tour guide or travel agent

By December 30, 2009Church

Regarding how Christ-followers tend to behave around non-believers, one helpful analogy is to explore the difference between a travel agent and a tour guide.

A travel agent is a paid expert who sits behind a desk and dispenses information.  They know all the right information (or can find it) about where to go, how to get there, what to do when you get there, and so on.  They might even have posters of exotic destinations on their office wall, even though they themselves have never been there.

But you don’t expect your travel agent to go with you to Tahiti or even Tacoma.

A tour guide, on the other hand, is a person that walks the path with you.  They wear the same gear.  You listen to them because they have been there before.  A tour guide can lead you around because she is familiar with the landscape.

Some Christ-followers see their spiritual roles as professional travel agents.  They can tell a non-believers all the facts about Paul’s missionary journeys.  Never at a loss for instructions, they easily dispense with advice about all sorts of matters — even those that they’ve never personally experienced.

What the spiritual travel agent lacks is authenticity.  Or street credibility.

The believer who becomes a tour guide, however, walks the same path as the non-believer.  Not that we become loose with our morals or compromise our convictions, but we are willing to strap on the same gear and go where they are — which is typically not in front of our desks.

A spiritual tour guide remembers the landscape of their former life and freely admits the wrong turns and detours that were a part of it.  Warnings have the ring of truth because we can point to the consequences in our own lives.

So … which is it?  Will you be a travel agent or a tour guide?