Get a second opinion

Have you ever tried to start a new project without really know what you’re doing? It’s probably not the smartest idea, honestly, but I know folks who have done it anyway. Leaped into a commitment that was much larger than they expected. But if they would have dug a little deeper, they would have discovered what they needed to know.

That’s the funny thing about taking risks in life. They don’t have to be blind risks all the time because there’s bound to be someone else who’s had the same thoughts and experienced the same problems you have, and if you can find that person, you’ve got access to a treasure trove of information. But what if you don’t like what they tell you? You can’t exactly jeopardize your dreams just because one person thinks you’re nuts for trying it, do you?

Flamingos at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Flamingos at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 15:22.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
    many advisers bring success.

I like to go things alone. I’m independent and stubborn, and I like to figure things out for myself without anyone’s help. I have this internal drive to prove myself capable, and for some reason it seems to me like accepting advice or help from anyone else negates any progress I’ve made along those lines.

No, I’ve never claimed to be bright.

That’s why sometimes I struggle with this verse in Proverbs, because more often than not, whenever I go looking for advice about a decision I need to make, the people I talk to discourage me from taking it. Or they don’t understand what I’m trying to accomplish. So rather than being disappointed about what I want to do, it’s easier to just not ask and struggle through the process alone. Maybe that makes me independent, but I think it probably makes me more idiotic than that.

Asking for advice is essential, whether you’re taking a risk or not. Nobody can get through life without wise counsel from someone who’s already walked that road. I mean, you can try to get through life without wise counsel, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll end up in heaps of trouble, and your life will be a lot more complicated than it needs to be. But you need to be careful where you get your advice.

Advice needs to be based on the Bible. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking relationship advice or work advice or child-rearing advice or business advice. Whatever advice you need, needs to be based on Scripture because that is the source of wisdom, so if you are getting advice from somebody that contradicts what the Bible says, you can feel free to ignore it.

But you also need to get a second opinion. Maybe that sounds harsh, but don’t put all your trust and focus in one person. Get the advice of more than one godly man or woman in your life when you need to make a decision. If they all tell you the same thing, then it’s a good chance that’s the way to go. If they all tell you something different, then you probably need to do some more praying about the decision you’re going to make.

God created us all with different perspectives, and He put us where we are in life to give us different experiences. Having a group of advisors with varied history, varied life experience, varied ages, varied everything is valuable, as long as the one thing they share is love of Christ and love of Scripture. If you have a group of people to get advice from, you’re more fortunate than you realize; you’re blessed. If you don’t have one, find one. Cultivate relationships with wise people. Learn to recognize wisdom and strive to integrate it into your life, and when you find a wise person, don’t scorn their advice. Listen to it. Consider it. Compare it to Scripture, and make your decision.

Some advice is discouraging because it contradicts what we want, but wisdom recognizes that getting what we want isn’t always what we need.

So if you’re the type who doesn’t like advice, consider learning to like it. It will probably save you heartache and frustration in the future. And if you’re the type who asks for advice, just make sure the person you’re listening is wise according to the Bible and the Spirit, especially if you’re hovering on the edge of a life-changing decision. But don’t just ask one wise person. There is more than one wise person in the world, and even though perspectives may vary, wisdom doesn’t.

Is there such a thing as too much advice? Maybe. But it’s probably better to risk too much advice than to press forward with too little.

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