One of the qualifications for God’s guides for His people in our journey to discover truth is that he is an “elder.” His beard is gray, his tooth is long, and his tread is worn. Therefore, he has had plenty of opportunity over the years to have left an easily-followed trail of specific sins behind him (a second qualification), and he has continued to live long enough to finally recognize those sins and repent for them (a third). Repentance is not an occasional, infrequent act to him; it is a way of life.

Full disclosure: the previous paragraph is the story of my life in this my seventh decade. I have been a college campus evangelist, a high school chemistry teacher and basketball coach, a church planter and elder (the office), a family counselor, an author, and a conference speaker. I have worn these multiple hats over the years while laboring with the distinct handicap of being a certified, card-carrying member of the only collective group Jesus ever had harsh words for—the Pharisees.

So, as a result of being a Pharisee, I am always an eager “teacher,” the one who knows, but never a ready “learner,” the one who doesn’t. I have a persistent proclivity to subconsciously think I know better than the Holy Spirit what you should do with your life.

Thus, over this almost 60 year period, I have had innumerable opportunities to burnish those three leadership qualifications for being a guide, as did Paul. His understanding of them grew from first seeing himself, in AD 56, as “the least of the Apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9), then, in AD 60-61, “less than the least of all the Saints” (Ephesians 3:8), and finally, toward the end of his life in AD 62-63, the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul’s progressive awareness of 1.) the depths of his sin, and 2.) the absolute certainty of God’s permanent and total forgiveness of it all constitute genuine spiritual growth and the indispensable credentials of a Christian life guide.

I pray that God will continue to convince me, as He did Paul, of the reality of both of these absolute, inviolable truths as He makes me, with Paul, “sufficient as a minister (guide) of the new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Come and join me on this journey of discovery as He does the same thing with you!

Robert Andrews has been married to Jill Joiner for 49 years and they have three children and 10 grandchildren. They currently reside in Spokane. Washington.