When was the last time you got really great advice? Did you recognize it when you heard it? For me, sometimes good advice doesn’t sound like advice. Sometimes it just sounds like conversation or a story, but recently a very good friend of mine actually sat me down and had a good long chat with me. And he gave me advice.
For-real advice. That doesn’t happen to me very often, probably because I don’t shut up long enough for people to tell me stuff.
I appreciated what this friend had to stay to me enormously because he’s one of those people who I really respect, but I had no idea how valuable that advice would be a few days later. I actually got the chance to put his advice into practice.
Today’s verse is Proverbs 19:20.
Get all the advice and instruction you can,
so you will be wise the rest of your life.
The world is full of people with advice. Have you noticed that? Everyone has an opinion about something, even the things that don’t matter.
An example? I was looking for a grammar rule I couldn’t remember. Do you capitalize after a colon or not? And surprise, surprise, everyone had a different idea and ten sources to back them up. Nobody agreed (but this is English, so I guess it’s not a surprise).
Everyone has advice. So whose advice do you go with? And how do you judge what advice is sound and what advice is cuckoo? Obviously what the Bible says is truth, but if you talk to different people they’ll apply that truth in different ways in their lives. So how do you know what’s right and what’s wrong?
Because maybe you’ve got a friend who has given you great advice in the past. That’s awesome. But maybe you’ve got other friends who have given you advice that didn’t work out so well. Or maybe you’ve even got friends like Job had, those cruel people who were so determined to blame Job’s suffering on him.
I’m not sure I know the answer to this. I just know what I have learned.
Lots of people have given me advice before, but the advice I take has to fulfill two main requirements. One, the advice he’s giving can’t contradict Scripture in any way. Two, the person giving the advice has to be a mature Christ-follower with a history of wise choices. Then, and only then, will I consider taking his advice.
Will I listen to advice from people I don’t know well? Sure, I’ll listen. Because I’ve learned amazing things from people I don’t know well. I’ve been blessed enormously by people I barely know. I’ve gotten to see God work in my life thanks to strangers. But when it comes to my own life, my own personal walk with Christ, it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to change what I’m doing just because someone walks up to me and tells me I need to do something different.
Advice is important. Nobody is smart enough to make it through this life on their wits alone. We all have experiences and we all have learned things along the way that can help others around us, and we should share and we should listen. The more you listen, the more you learn. The more you learn, the wiser you’ll be.
Job’s friends aside, God has put people in our lives who are worth listening to. And listening to them might mean the difference between success and burn out.
So pay attention. Get all the advice you can find because the truth will probably be in there somewhere.