Wednesday, August 8, 2012

So many voices, so many choices ...

No matter what you do, regardless of how good it may be, someone won't like it.

That reality motivates people in different, negative directions. For some, they work all the harder to try to please everyone all of the time. The result takes us back to that old saying:

"You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time."

Others withdraw from sharing their lives or seeking advice in an effort to avoid the scrutiny, opinions, and judgments of others. But then they are criticized for their aloofness!

Scripture gives us some direction about seeking the opinion of others in what, to some, seems to be contradictory terms.

First, we read in Proverbs 15:22, "Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success." But in the previous chapter, we read in Proverbs 14:15, "Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps."

In one verse, we are encouraged to seek out counsel, but in the other, to be careful who we listen. The combination of those two verses is wise counsel, indeed.

Many fail because they don't listen to anyone but themselves. On a host of topics, there are a vast army of people who know more than you and I do. For example, it can be wise to seek counsel about your taxes or finances; with regard to health issues; about that knocking sound coming from the engine of your car; or for directions when you're driving cross country. There are a lot of people out there who know a lot that we don't. Seeking their advice can benefit us.

But, it's knowing who to listen to that is important. We shouldn't believe everyone because not everyone is right. Listening to the advice from everyone who offers it --- or from everyone we seek it from --- can lead us into more trouble than we could get into on our own!

 At the end of the day, we have to take all the counsel we've received and prudently, carefully consider our steps. In other words, we still have to make our own decisions and have peace with ourselves about them.

That's where a little wisdom and courage merge.  It takes both to acknowledge you don't know everything, and seek wise counsel. It takes courage to weed out what advice you will accept, what you won't, and then "own" your decision.

A good way to filter all the counsel you receive for reliable, applicable advice, is to strain it through God's Word. Any counsel that conflicts with the Word of God is not reliable and should be discarded. What remains may offer insights worthy of consideration.

Finally, before you launch out in pursuit of wise counsel, remember where to start:

"The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you'."
Psalm 32:8

The first stop on the route to seeking wise counsel is with God. He desires to be your primary Counselor, and offers to "... guide you along the best pathway for your life." How could you pass up such a great offer?


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