You’re As Wise As Anyone: Seek Christian Advice, Not Surrogate Decision-Makers

You probably know these verses from Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). And, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).

If you’re anything like me, it’s tempting to read these verses as saying, “Don’t trust yourself to make any decisions–God will tell the more spiritually mature what you should do, then those advisers will tell you!” 

That sort of thinking is rooted in fear, lack of faith, and (I dare say) laziness. You’ve probably known people who ask “what should I do” about the same decision, of ten different people, twice a week–and six months later are no closer to doing anything. You may have had the experience of–five or six times in rapid succession–taking two steps along a path of action, then losing your nerve when someone suggested this way was better and you couldn’t show any “but this is working” evidence in favor of your current direction. You may even have gone against all your instincts because a dedicated Christian friend urged that you needed that job opportunity or this program–only to see that venture end in disaster.

Much as we want to believe that some people are so close to God He would never let them make a mistake, even mature Christians can give wrong or inappropriate advice. Their vision may be blurred by concern that someone else “make well” or “be safe.” Or they may, in the face of a friend’s (or parishioner’s) desperate pleas for advice, resort to their “own understanding” because they feel pushed to suggest something even if they don’t hear God saying anything. 

It may well be that He isn’t. He may be waiting for the advice-seeker to ask Him directly. As the Bible says elsewhere, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Ps. 118:8-9)–even the ones He is using most mightily in other areas.

Strange how most of us are more than willing to trust other humans–who, in the end, are only human and also have limited powers of understanding–but are consumed with doubt that the all-caring and all-wise God will lead us on the right path. Almost as we make the first feeble attempts to pray for guidance, terror surges up: “I know I’ll hear wrong. I know I’ll make a mistake. I’m not important enough, not good enough, not accomplished enough to rate that much attention from God, that He’d keep me in the right direction for long. He won’t even speak clearly enough that I can be absolutely sure of anything!”

Can we, at least, take some first steps toward being sure that He actually cares? Can we stop regarding Him as an elitist who reserves clear guidance for a select few and leaves the others to stumble in the dark? Can we make a habit of reminding ourselves that “even the very hairs of [our] head are all numbered” (Mt. 10:30) and that that applies to us as much as anyone?

And can we accept that, foolish as it is to “be wise in our own eyes” (Prov. 3:7 and elsewhere), it is no less foolish to attribute the infallible insight that belongs only to God to anyone else–even to the wisest and godliest of humans? Can we accept that there are some areas, not least the understanding of our own natural bents and gifts, where God may actually have blessed us with wisdom superior to that of anyone else on our level?

I leave you with these words from James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, italics added). 

Trust God first, and you need no longer fear to trust yourself.

How About You? When have you found that trusting God to lead you, even in the face of the best human advice, brought you to a better place than you imagined? Leave a comment and share your experience!

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  1. Steve Duson

     /  March 21, 2014

    Wise words!

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    Steve Duson | Executive Director
    4803 San Felipe | Houston, TX 77056
    713-626-7990, x104
    http://www.interface-samaritan.org

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