Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 12 and 14:21-31, 2 Chronicles 10-12, Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 24:6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 119:24, Ecclesiastes 4:13, Proverbs 13:20, Matthew 7:24, 1 Corinthians 15:37, Psalm 32:8, Job, Proverbs 11:2
Guiding Question: Whom does God want us to choose for advisors and mentors?
Optional Introductory Activity: Show students a clip of a movie like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mary Poppins or Pinocchio where one of the characters is mentoring or giving advice to another character. Ask students why the person was giving the advice and whether or not they believe the other character should take the advice. Have them share why they believe the character should or should not have followed the advice that was given to them.
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) The Bible has quite a few stories where one decision a person makes changes everything for them and sometimes even for others around them. Can you think of any examples?
King David’s grandson Rehoboam is one of the clearest examples in the Bible of a person having a clear choice and making the wrong one. The repercussions of his poor choice impacted not only him and his family, but the entire nation.
Read 1 Kings 12 and 14:21-31 (You may also want them to read 2 Chronicles 10-12.) What was the choice or dilemma Rehoboam faced? Who were the two groups of people giving him advice? What did each group advise him to do? Whose advice did he take? Why should he have followed the other advice instead? What happened because he took the wrong advice?
Rehoboam actually did a few things right before he went down the wrong path. What do you think Rehoboam did that was wise? Rehoboam realized he had a choice to make and that choice could have a great impact on his life and the lives of everyone involved. Often the first mistake we make is underestimating the importance of a choice. In fact, sometimes we so underestimate the importance of a choice that we fail to even realize we have a choice!
Choices have consequences. Sometimes the consequences of a choice are so small we don’t even realize it. Whether I choose green beans or peas in the cafeteria line at lunch generally has little real impact on my life. Other choices have consequences that may not appear until a long time after we make the initial choice. If, for example, I consistently eat unhealthy foods, I may think there are no consequences until years later when I start having health problems from making poor food choices for many years.
In situations like Rehoboam faced, the consequences of making the wrong choice can be huge. Sometimes we can recover from those consequences and sometimes we have to live with them for the rest of our lives – just like Rehoboam. The tricky part is sometimes we put a choice in the wrong category. We think the possible consequences are minimal when in actuality they could be huge.
That’s when it is helpful to have advisors and mentors – to help us know how serious a choice is and which option is the best. Rehoboam did the smart thing by asking for advice. It actually was also not a bad idea to get advice from more than one person. The mistake he made was in taking the advice from people he probably shouldn’t have asked for advice from in the first place. Why would Rehoboam’s young peers not have been the best place for Rehoboam to seek advice?
Rehoboam’s peers had no experience in ruling a country. They hadn’t been advisors for a king before. Most likely to have been considered a peer of Rehoboam, they didn’t live the life of a “regular” person that was hurt by Solomon’s policies, but were wealthy, privileged young men who may have benefitted from them. They just didn’t have the knowledge and experience to give helpful advice. Their advice also showed how selfish they were, which means any advice they gave was possibly ungodly, for their character did not reflect godliness.
Rehoboam was not the first person to take bad advice. The first person was, Eve. Read Genesis 3:1-6. Who gave Eve advice? What was his advice? Why do you think she listened to Satan’s advice, rather than obeying God?
Satan is the father of bad advice. He wants to make sure we always hear bad advice, in hopes that we will follow it and sin or reject God in the process. Since we can’t have an actual conversation with Satan like Eve did, what are some ways Satan can use to make sure we get some bad advice when we are trying to make a choice? Satan can use our thoughts, other people – even the things we read and listen to as a way of making sure we hear some bad advice at times to confuse us.
Job’s friends are a good example. Satan made the bad things happen to Job, but it was Job’s friends who were giving him bad advice. I’m fact, at the end of the book, God tells Job’s friends (42:8) to sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams and have Job pray for them so God would not deal with them for their folly.
Often our mistake is not that we take bad advice, but that we don’t need advice at all. Satan makes sure we think everyone who could give us godly advice has some sort of flaw that would make their advice worthless. In fact, it’s just a twist of what Satan said to Eve when he told her she surely wouldn’t die if she ate the fruit like God had said. He convinced her that God wasn’t as smart as the two of them and shouldn’t be heeded.
God knows this can be a problem for everyone. So, there are quite a few verses in the Bible that encourage us to seek godly advice. Read the verses and see if you can summarize them in a sentence or two. Proverbs 19:20, 11:14, 24:6, 12:15, 1:7, 13:20, 11:2, Ecclesiastes 4:13, 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Who do you think can give us the best advice? Read the following scriptures and see if the answer they provide is different from yours. Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 119:24, Matthew 7:24, Psalm 32:8.
Obviously, God is the perfect mentor because He is Truth and Love and knows and wants what is best for us. Thankfully, He has put a lot of His wisdom in the Bible. Constantly reading and studying the Bible can help you make better choices more consistently. Prayer is another way to ask God for His help when you have a decision to make.
God uses scripture to help us know His will for our lives, but He can also use circumstances and people. In fact, that is one of the purposes of the church…to give us people who know us well and love us enough to give us important godly advice…even if it’s not always what we want to hear.
Skills Activity: If possible have several adults from the congregation who would make good mentors for the Bible students in your class. These could be short term or long term mentorship relationships. Potential mentors should understand before attending class any expectations you have for their mentoring. In many cases, you may also want to provide some training for potential mentors.
Review the main points from the lesson. Ask students to list the qualities they would want in a mentor. After they have listed all of their responses, ask the adults if they have any other qualities they would add based on their experiences.
Explain to students that sometimes a person will give you one bit of advice or mentor you for a specific reason and then you may not see them very often after that experience. Other mentors will become like a trusted family member whom you will ask for advice for many years. Neither is right or wrong, they are just different and can both prove helpful.
Ask the adults to share a few experiences when they had someone give them godly advice and it really helped them. You may want to prepare them ahead of time and put a time limit on each story. Depending on your Bible students, you may also want to have them share a story of a time when they didn’t seek or take godly advice and regretted it later.
After the discussion, have each adult briefly share their interests, talents, ministry experience and ways they believe they could possibly help students in either a short or long term mentoring capacity.
Explain to students that finding a mentor or advisor is almost like dating. You want to find the person who is best equipped to give you the help you need. Not everyone has the same gifts and experiences, so while they may all give you godly advice, some of that advice is more informed and therefore helpful.
Encourage students and adults to have private conversations for the rest of the time. This may be conversations where they begin to get to know one another and build relationships or in some cases, students may already have questions for their potential mentors. Encourage both students and adults to continue finding time to have these conversations and finding mentors and advisors to give them godly advice when they need it.
Application Challenge: Review the points from the lesson. Who are some people who would give you godly advice if you needed it? What are their areas of expertise? Is there a decision you are facing that godly advice would be helpful? Choose some adults from your church and contact them for their advice. Compare their answers to scripture to make sure it is in line with God’s wisdom.