Speaking of mentoring, I had a sailor come to me the other night with a really big dilemma. Obviously I won’t be talking about the dilemma out in the open like this, but suffice to say it was huge. How huge? Well, in 31 years of being on this earth, and 13 of those in the US Navy, I had never even come close to experiencing the guy’s problem.
I had a choice to make at that moment. I could do one of two things. Either I could immediately refer him to the chaplain or I could handle it myself. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I chose the second option…duh!
In all fairness, I had been praying about this meeting and thought that it would be an opportunity to witness to the sailor about Christ. About ten or 15 minutes into the conversation, however, I realized that it was neither the time nor the place. I had no idea how to relate his situation to the blood of Christ. It’s not that he didn’t need Christ, of course he did, he just needed someone to help him through that immediate situation first.
So I told him what I thought he should do, namely, talk to the chaplain. Since I had already given him some advice before my brain kicked in, I followed by telling him that he might not want to follow my previous suggestions on that topic.
“This is way above me, man,” I said. Inside, I was thinking, “I’m in way over my head!” It was the smartest thing I said that night. So I went back to my options and picked the right one…I told him to talk to the chaplain, a man I know as a strong believer and an outstanding counselor.
It’s not every day that I get to retrace my steps and back out of a potentially damaging situation. I could have really caused some damage to that guy had my advice been wrong. I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit nudged me in the right direction.
So what about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you knew what to do, but realized later that it wasn’t a good idea? How did you handle it?