Choosing Godly Counsel
MBC, November 10, 2013
Who do you go to when you need advice?
Most of the time, it’s a lot easier to give advice than to take it. We like to believe we have the wisdom to handle life on our own.
Most professional football players have great individual skills that make them successful at what they do. Although they possess great strength, agility and speed, there’s still one thing the offense does before almost every play – THEY HUDDLE. They get together and hear the upcoming play so they can all be on the same page when the ball is snapped. There is a great lesson for life to be learned by watching the huddle. If players of great skill need to huddle and hear instructions for each play, we also need the benefit of huddling with others to receive wise instructions before following through on the critical decisions in our lives.
READ Proverbs 20:18
10 years ago, people called Miss Cleo for advice. Even though Miss Cleo is out of business, people are still calling 1-900 numbers to get advice. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t see the commercials. But that is not the only place people go for advice. Some go to internet chat rooms, fortune tellers, palm readers, or even Dear Abby. The problem is that they are looking for wisdom in all the wrong places!
We need to know who to go to for help in making decisions and we need to seek godly counsel.
Four eyes see more than two.
To know the road ahead, ask those coming back. Chinese Proverb
Lisa Owens was facing knee surgery. She was a bit nervous about it, so she asked her boss, the veterinarian at the clinic where she worked if he had any advice for her. He was very comforting and without any hesitation he told her, “Turn your worries into prayers, get plenty of rest and don’t lick your incision.” – Reader’s Digest
Does decision making give you anxiety? Many people get stressed out over some of the decisions they have to make in life. One reason many people get stressed is they have only limited knowledge and experience about something.
While she was enjoying a transatlantic ocean trip, Billie Burke, the famous actress, noticed that a gentleman at the next table was suffering from a bad cold.
She asked him sympathetically, “Are you uncomfortable?” The man nodded.
She said, “I’ll tell you just what to do for it. Go back to your stateroom and drink lots of orange juice. Take two aspirins. Cover yourself with all the blankets you can find. Sweat the cold out. I know just what I’m talking about. I’m Billie Burke from Hollywood.”
The man smiled warmly and introduced himself in return. He said, “Thanks. I’m Dr. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic.” – James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 21.
God has not designed us to make decisions independently or with limited information. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t seek counsel during critical times in their lives.
WHY? There are at least three reasons why some people do not seek counsel.
1. Some think they don’t know anyone who could help them with important decisions.
2. A second reason is pride. Some don’t want to ask for advice because they see it as a sign of weakness. This is especially true of people in leadership roles. A great leader is not one who makes all the decisions themselves. A great leader owns their decisions once it has been made.
3. The third reason is that the person already knows what the advice would be and doesn’t want to hear it.
The folly of human nature is neatly summed up by the case of the middle-aged school teacher who invested her life savings in a business enterprise which had been elaborately explained to her by a swindler.
When her investment disappeared and the wonderful dream was shattered, she went to the office of the Better Business Bureau. “Why on earth,” they asked, “didn’t you come to us first? Didn’t you know about the Better Business Bureau?”
“Oh, yes,” said the lady sadly, “I’ve always known about you. But I didn’t come because I was afraid you’d tell me not to do it.”
READ Proverbs 13:20
We need to see that one benefit believers have is their place in the body of Christ where they can learn from one another and help each other make wise decisions. We can seek the wisdom of godly and wiser people who can help us see what we can’t see from our point of view. One of the primary tools God uses to guide us is the counsel of other believers. So, here are two good reasons to seek godly counsel.
1. We need counsel because we lack objectivity. We tend to look at situations from our own perspective and our own viewpoint. If a situation is close to us, we need the help of others who can see the blind spots we can’t. This is especially true in decisions involving relationships with friends and families, because they tend to involve our emotions and emotions sometimes cloud our vision.
2. When we don’t have enough information, we need counsel. The complexity of the decision may be over our head.
The best way to deal with any problem is to talk it over with three people you can trust absolutely. God, yourself and a friend.
READ 1 Kings 12:1-4
In our passage today, we find Rehoboam being crowned king of Israel. During the coronation festivities, the whole assembly of Israel pleads for him to lighten the burden of taxes and the weight of their labor. They wanted a lightened load. His father’s advisors told him to lighten the load. His friends advised him against it. He listened to his friend’s advice and then the trouble began. He chose the wrong advisors.
How can we know who the right advisors are? Let me suggest 4 characteristics of good advisors:
1. It should be someone who has nothing to lose by telling us the truth. We need to seek out those who are more concerned about telling us the truth than they are about preserving the friendship. Truth must always take precedent over preserving the relationship. Rehoboam sought advice from his friends and associates whose positions could be eliminated if the taxes and labor were lessened.
READ Proverbs 27:5 – better is open rebuke than hidden love
2. It should be someone who is where we want to be in life. We may seek the counsel of those who have experienced success in their marriage, relationships, finances, and spiritual growth. Too many ask people who are no farther down the road than they are.
Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties. – Aesop
Rehoboam should have heeded the advice of his father’s advisors.
READ 2 Kings 12:19
3. It is wise to ask more than one person if possible.
I not only use all the brains I have but all I can borrow. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
READ Proverbs 15:22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many = success
READ Proverbs 11:14 – In the multitude of counselors there is safety.
Rehoboam did seek two different groups, but only listened to one, and it cost him his kingdom.
4. It is best to choose someone you know and someone you don’t. This will ensure a balance in the information you receive.
Who would make a good counselor? Pastors, parents, spiritually mature believers. The president has cabinet members, a head coach has assistants, and a CEO has board members. Who do you have?
Once you find the right counsel, what are some questions you should ask when making a decision?
1. Are any of the options I’m considering unscriptural? It is easy to try to use Scripture for our own good. We must ask others if we are doing this. We may have missed a verse relating to our decision or we may have used a verse out of context in coming to our conclusion
2. What do you think is the wisest thing for me to do? Not every situation will have a clear right or wrong answer. You need to know all the facts and variables to get solid advice.
3. Am I reasonably prepared to meet the challenge?
4. What is the leading of the Holy Spirit?
WARNING – expect to hear from God when seeking counsel, but be careful not to take everything you hear as God speaking. This is why you need counsel from several sources.
Be open to God speaking to you through the counsel of others.
If the only counsel you ever heed is that which agrees with what you already think, you may not be as open as you should be to God speaking to others.
A man was on the golf practice course, when the club pro, Maury, brought an important-looking man out for a lesson. Maury watched the guy swing several times and started making suggestions for improvement, but each time the pupil interrupted with his own versions of what was wrong and how to correct it. After a few minutes of this interference, Maury began nodding his head in agreement. At the end of the lesson, the man paid Maury, congratulated him on his expertise as a teacher and left in an obviously pleased frame of mind.
The observer was so astonished by the performance that he had to ask, “Why did you go along with him?”
“Son,” the old pro said with a grin as he carefully pocketed his fee, “I learned long ago that it’s a waste of time to sell answers to a man who wants to buy echoes.”
J.F. Moore, Reader’s Digest.