One-on-One with Jesus, part 6: Advice from Jesus!

Luke 6:39-45 


Have you ever felt a check in your spirit about the character of a certain spiritual leader?

How to pick a leader! 


Following the leadership of a trusted pastor, minister, priest or other spiritual leader, can be the most inspiring and encouraging relationship one can have in life? Conversely, following a spiritual leader who turns out to be untrustworthy and self-serving, can be a painful and distressing experience.  


Personally, I have experienced the extremes of both situations. Extreme in that I have had relationships with pastors who have given me much joy; men who have encouraged me and challenged me with pure love and sincerity of heart. Consequently, I have encountered pastors who have been extremely untrustworthy and whose motives are selfish and self-serving. Such leaders have caused much pain. 


What about you? 


Here in Luke 6, Jesus is having a sit-down mentoring session with His newly appointed disciples. These are the special men who will eventually become trusted leaders and carry on Jesus’ ministry after He ascends back to heaven. Jesus is giving some serious advice about leadership…especially, advice about leaders who should be identified as untrustworthy. 


I am now, after many years of experience, a much better judge of character than I was when I was younger. When younger, I would often be enamored with the zeal and charisma of a spiritual leader and overlook the personal character flaws of the ‘bigger than life’ pastor.  


Jesus is warning his disciples about the character or false teachers! 


Jesus uses five brief analogies: 

  • The futility of the blind leading the blind 
  • A pupil is only as good as his teacher 
  • A speck and log in the eye: beware of a judgmental attitude  
  • A tree is known by its fruit 
  • Spoken words reveal the heart 


It’s no secret. Even a casual reader of the gospels understands that Jesus taught extensively about the dangers of the religious elite of His day. He not only taught his disciples to resist them but Jesus also confronted the Pharisees head-on without mincing words. Jesus has nothing but compassion for sinners who come before Him in humility and repentance. But arrogant, self-righteous sinners, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, did not find compassion from Jesus. Instead, He condemned their self-righteous arrogance and condemning attitude toward the people. 


Jesus warns about false teachers. He warns us because they can be deceiving! They can be tricky; they can seem good when they are actually bad; they can seem spiritual when they are actually evil; and they can appear like sheep but actually be wolves. 


They are blind! 


If you fall into the trap of following a false teacher, you will first be following a man or woman who portrays visions of God but actually is blind. To be blind and not realize or acknowledge your blindness, and then to lead others in your blindness, is the worst kind of blindness. 

Isaiah wrote about the dangers of false teachers in his day: 

For those who guide this people are leading them astray; and those who are guided by them are brought to confusion. 9:16. 


They are limited 


Another danger of following false spiritual leaders is that they cannot lead you beyond who they are. Jesus said, a pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. Luke 7:40. 


Why do you follow a spiritual leader? Certainly, it is because you hope they will lead you closer to God and help you grow, mature, and improve yourself. But false teachers cannot take you where you want to go because they are not able. The old saying is true; you leaned your ladder against the wall and after climbing to the top, you realized you leaned it against the wrong wall. 


They are hypocrites 


The very essence of being self-righteous is that they see themselves as superior. Beware of those who quickly point out the sins and flaws of others. They have 20/20 vision when looking at the speck in others but they are blind to the log in their own lives. 


They are rotten to the core 


It’s disgusting to cut open a piece of fruit and find rot hidden in the core. False teachers can’t hide who they really are. Jesus said, for there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. Luke 6:43. 


Be wise and peel back the outer layers of your spiritual leaders. If they are true, they will accept your inquiries and questions about their true intentions and purposes of their ministries. If they are false, they’ll scold you for your doubts and ridicule your appeal for sincerity and transparency. Be wise, be discerning and be aware. 


Father God, we ask for your wisdom and your guidance in the area of spiritual leaders. Who we follow determines our destiny. May we follow with wisdom, discernment and humility. Be our guide in this most critical area. Amen