“A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15)
A couple years ago I asked for a meeting with my elders. I wanted to discuss my path to pastoral ministry and what I was missing. Was it my character? Was it my ability to teach or preach? Was I not doing something I should be doing? These were all good questions to ask.
We met one night after the church-wide Wednesday Bible study. Long story short, it did not go well. While I was anticipating encouragement, I was met with correction.
I went home frustrated, discouraged, and tired—but I knew I was in the wrong. I knew the correction—the rebuke, even—was warranted. And though I was very upset by the conversation, I listened to their exhortations and words. They were words which stung, but every Christian needs to be stung now and then because we’re still sinners.
It would have been very easy for me—natural, even—to ignore the correction and go my own way. That was what the sin in me wanted to do. It wanted to ignore the rebuke, turn a cold shoulder, and believe I was right in what I thought. But I knew I couldn’t do that if I wanted to be in step with the Holy Spirit. I would’ve been a fool.
And yet, this is the way of the world. We are seeing the ending of the Book of Judges playing out before our very eyes:
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
(Judges 21:25 ESV)
Everybody does want they want. No more understanding, no more listening. The culture relies on its wisdom—a wisdom they believe to be infallible. But it is not so.
God, however, calls Christians to listen. We must listen to counsel, attend to advice we receive, and be willing to hear correction. As we must admit, we are not perfect. Therefore, it’s all the more wise—as the Scriptures tell us—that we listen to those whom God has placed over us.
But our natural instinct—our flesh, our sin—tells us not to. And we live among a people of a society that hates having people over them. As we all know, the autonomy of self reigns supreme. We are in charge of ourselves—nobody is our boss.
But if we want to be wise—with wisdom from the Lord, not this world—then we must be eager to hear counsel from others. We must be “all ears” to advice even when it goes against what we want. For we are fools if we believe we are always right.
As finite, sinful people we are going to be wrong a lot of the time—in whatever situation. If we are yielding to the Spirit and focusing on obeying the Lord with a joy-filled heart, we will welcome counsel from others. This is why it’s so important to be discipled. Find somebody in your local church who you look up to. Ask him or her to disciple you.
Be quick to listen to counsel. Of course, we must also be wise about who’s counsel we’re receiving—some counsel should be ignored. But when it’s from someone who you trust, be willing to take correction or advice.
You’d be a fool if you didn’t. We all would be.