So, does the reality that God’s truth speaks authentically in the heart of every person mean we should get rid of all spiritual teachers? Should I resign? Is it time to hang up my preaching robes and head for the golf course?

Perhaps not. There may still be a place for particular people to be set aside with the specific task of offering spiritual teaching, as long as we do not take our function too seriously and as long as we keep always before us the true role we are called to fulfill.

The role of the spiritual teacher is not to impart something to the student that the student lacks. The teacher’s only function is to remind us of what we have always known and to call us back to the inner truth and spiritual wisdom that dwells at the heart of our being.

The job of the spiritual teacher, preacher, counselor, guide, or mentor, is to say, “Listen to what you know within yourself to be the truth. Heed the voice of truth that speaks in your own life.”

Jesus promised,

13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)

This promise has been fulfilled. The “Spirit of truth” dwells in our hearts leading us to truth and light.

Paul declares that

10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received … the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. (I Corinthians2:10-12)

The Spirit is our teacher. The Spirit dwells within the student imparting the wisdom, knowledge and guidance for which our hearts long.

Spiritual teachers may be able to deconstruct some of the myths that clutter our lives making it difficult for us to hear the truth that speaks in our heart. But no human teacher can manufacture the truth, or tell us anything we do not already know.

The role of the student is to be discerning, listening deeply for the resonance of truth already known.

Paul balances acknowledgement of the truth that can be conveyed through a human vessel with the need for the student to practice discernment instructing his students,

20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good. (I Thessalonians 5:20, 21)

Nothing is to be accepted uncritically simply on the basis of the authority of the teacher. No student is ever to surrender the responsibility to hear and discern in their own heart the teaching they hear in the external words of the teacher.

When external words align with inner truth, the life of both teacher and student are moved along the road towards a place of authentic and deep knowing.

Perhaps the preacher does not need so much pity after all. The presence of God’s Spirit at work in every human being is deeply liberating for both teacher and student. It means the preacher’s job is no longer so difficult. The work of truth in another person’s life does not depend upon the teacher’s great skill or dazzling eloquence. The teacher needs only to be open to the truth that speaks within their own heart and then share that teaching in confidence that the truth will work in the student’s life as the Spirit guides.