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Not knowing what you don’t know

She was wrong for him. She was needy and would not fuel his dreams. I wasn’t the only one who could see the disaster coming. A number of my friends could too. But John never asked me for advice. In fact, the clear signal he sent was, “This is what I’m going to do, so don’t get in the way.” &nbsp…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
She was wrong for him. She was needy and would not fuel his dreams. I wasn’t the only one who could see the disaster coming. A number of my friends could too. But John never asked me for advice. In fact, the clear signal he sent was, “This is what I’m going to do, so don’t get in the way.”
 
Years later, the relationship was claustrophobic and dysfunctional and fell apart.
 
I’m guessing you’ve been there too – how many times have you watched a friend’s situation that felt to you like a slow motion train wreck?
 
You knew what your friend should do, but she wasn’t open to your advice. So you sat there in silence and watched the inevitable catastrophe.
 
Your friend didn’t know what she didn’t know.
 
If only she could have asked you for counsel. If only she thought to ask you the question, “Am I missing anything?” Or, “Are there any questions I should be asking?”
 
This is a huge issue in discipling someone – do they know what they don’t know? Do they want to grow enough to ask for help?
 
You see their blind spot, but you wonder about whether they trust you enough for you to bring it up. You have the discernment, but not the authority in their life. And so, they plow ahead, steering for the cliff that you can all too clearly see ahead.
 
A little humility goes a long way. If I had a do-over, I would have sought out people with answers to questions I needed to  be asking a lot earlier. And I would have said, “Here’s my life, what do you see that I’m not seeing? What’s the most important question I could ask now?”

Comments (12)

  • “Here’s my life, what do you see that I’m not seeing? What’s the most important question I could ask now?” <<< youve hit a nerve! transparency, humility and trust all in one! AWESOME!

  • Yes, here is my life Seth, what do you see I am not seeing? What is the most important question I should be asking?

  • Thanks Seth…This is one of life’s hardest lessons both on the giving and receiving end of the equation. Blessings…

  • Those who have thanked me – your welcome. Wish I had this mastered.

    Joy, I’ll email you. Thanks for asking.

  • This is really good and straight to the point, thank you. Another question though, what about those who do not see what they DO know? However small in the grand picture of things, those who do not see that they DO know at least a little lack the confidence to take any step, in my opinion.

  • You’ve spoken my heart, Seth. It’s hard to watch the younger ones I love suffer unnecessarily. WE see their need to be discipled, but my prayer is that THEY see their need. I pray for God to close the generational gap in that we see they are worth our time, that we see their value and incredible potential, and pour ourselves out for them, and they seek out and stay with those who have walked further in the Journey, in humility and openness of heart. I agree with Melinda that there are times that we speak truth in love and warn “whether they listen or fail to listen.” (God to Ezekiel) I’ve got to know that I was at least faithful to do my part.

  • Kristen, you make a good point. It is a confidence issue. Then the question they need to be asking their discipler is, “What do you see in my understanding of my identity that I need to grow in?”

  • Even if we aren’t being given the authority to speak into a friend’s life where we see a train wreck coming, I think besides praying for them, there are some situations where even if they aren’t coming to us for advice, we can broach the subject in a way that makes them aware we might have some wisdom if they want it. Most will not want it, but there are a few who will but were just blind and didn’t know they needed to ask. Yup, you’ll have to approach in humility and be prepared for rejection, but if it’s a friend, I think we must do what we can to try and alert them to the danger. Again, I get it if they say ‘No way, I want no input’, than I would respect that, but they will at least know something was being offered.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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