Be Careful WHO You Listen To!
Quick fixes – Instant Answers – Microwave mentality. It seems that Christians have the same problem that non-Christians do when it comes to seeking advice and wanting answers to their very real problems. But the real problem becomes worse and the danger can become more serious when we fail to use WISDOM in making right choices - especially when those choices involve 'WHO' we listen to and take council from. And it compounds when we begin to solely rely on others to 'hear from God for us' instead of 'hearing God's voice' and seeking His council' ourselves, when we listen to everybody else, BUT HIM.
One way to help us in making wise choices is found in the Scripture when it tells us in Proverbs 11:14; "Where there is no counsel (guidance, wise leadership), the people (nation) fall; But in the multitude (abundance of, many) counselors there is safety (victory)."
Notice the EMPHASIS, 'abundance of, many, multitude of counsel, wise leadership, guidance', NEVER in just 'one' person. No matter how POPULAR that person may be, or even how they may have just EMOTIONALLY STIRRED OUR SOULS with their PRESENTATION, PROGRAM, PRESENCE or POWER. Always in a multitude (abundance of, many) wise counselors
HOWEVER… Sadly today there seem to be more-and-more individuals who are involved in ministries who honestly believe that because of their particular POSITION, TITLE, MINISTRY, EXPERIENCE or SUCCESS that this somehow qualifies them with 'supernatural wisdom' in 'giving any and all' the advice they need on ANY and ALL subjects. And the scary thing is People Blindly Follow them and Unquestionably Listen!!!
Now, no Physician is an 'expert' in every aspect of the entire vast field of medicine. No one who holds a 'Doctorate' knows 'all there is to know' (though both of the above may be more than proficient in their respective fields). No TEACHER can teach every subject. No QUARTERBACK can win an entire game by himself. And certainly just because someone is an ACTOR means they have a 'qualifier' which makes them wise in 'all other areas' of government or environment – maybe socialism, but that is another article…
Also, on a more personal level. I am a Critical Care Paramedic and have served our Lord in the area of Emergency Medicine for over 30 years. There ARE A LOT of things I can do in the pre-hospital environment in saving lives that even nurses and some doctors cannot do. Things that blow a lot of people's minds. The list and qualifications may impress or inspire even you. And, as a Faculty Member for The American Heart Association® I instruct and certify Doctors, PAs, RNs, Respiratory Therapists, Paramedics, EMTs, First Responders, etc. in the fields of Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Basic Life Support, First Aid, as well as in Advanced Medical Life Support and Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (just to name a few). But though I am very efficient in many areas, I do NOT know it all NOR would I dare to act or claim such. NOR does it make me more knowledgeable than those I work alongside or instruct. I am simply part of a T.E.A.M. A T.E.A.M. where Together Everyone Accomplishes More' Together, we all provide LIFE-SAVING SKILLS for the best of an individual, or individuals, in our fields when and where we are most needed.
God also has a T.E.A.M. It is called M.O.W.C. – Multitude of Wise Counselors. At NO TIME does He have an indispensible, all-purpose Solo Act, Star Quarterback, or Super Paramedic who knows it all. The same is true in MINISTRY. (See 1 Corinthians 8:1-3).
There are and always will be reoccurring times in our lives when we need support, instruction, guidance and council. Wisdom from others who have been where we are or may have experience and insight for us. People who can walk alongside us.
The PROBLEM occurs when you have that Paramedic/Doctor/Teacher/Pastor/Minister who becomes UNTEACHABLE, or KNOWS IT ALL, who is 'GOD'S GIFT TO (you fill in the blank). For some reason that seems to be occurring more and more in the area of 'Christianity'. Those who are MISUSING their position. People who have become 'proficient' in one or two areas and/or have a Type A or charismatic Personality, now take on the mantle that they are 'all-knowing' in all areas of the Christian Life because of (they feel) their POSITION, SUCCESS, PRESENTATION, POWER, or MINISTRY. AND people are enamored by them and will seek them out almost in a cult-like fashion.
So what do we do? Since no 'ONE PERSON' knows it all or can advise us in all areas, how then do we AVOID by-passing God and His M.O.W.C. T.E.A.M. (Multitude of Wise Counselor Together Everyone Accomplishes More) and stop consistently placing our All-Star Guru of Christianity up on that Proverbial Pedestal of Worship, Adoration, and Unquestionable Loyalty and Information we placed them on?
The answer is pretty simple.
1. Seek your Abba Father's Voice FIRST Answers don't always come as quick as you may want or be the answers you desire or even be what you want to hear. However, God's wisdom is ALWAYS better. And in the midst of our darkest hour, or in the middle of our desert, sometimes God simply wants us to draw into His presence and shadow, next to His Bramble Bush to rely and rest on Him, to hear HIS voice, to TRUST Him and realize that He will guide and sustain us 'one more day'. Day-by-day, moment-by-moment. The desert is where He may want us to be at this time. The key is to walk WITH HIM and TRUST HIM – He WILL make our path or direction clear.
2. Don't Just Look For and Embrace People Who Will Always Agree With You. We're like that. If several people, over a period of time, will give you wise council independently of each other, and most of the time it may be the same, then it might be something to consider. However we MUST realize two things:
1st. There MAY be a time that everyone will have the same advice and it still not be God's will for you to do what they say. Your decision will not contradict or compromise God's Word, and yet, He MAY lead you separately from what others may be thinking. Case in point – Paul regarding God's will for him going up to Jerusalem.
2nd Also there may be times you may reject the council of others because it is not what you really want to hear or do. In reality, you've already made up your mind independent of Scripture or The Holy Spirit's speaking to you. You are just looking for someone to confirm and speak into you what you've already decided and what you want to hear with no intention of hearing God's voice on the matter. Only you can be honest enough with yourself to decide if you are in this DANGEROUS position or not.
3. Be Slow to: (1) Give Advice and (2) Receive Advice.
First, in giving advice: Realize that when we 'Give someone our wisdom or answer' in order to try to help them fix their situation, or tell / direct them in their next step may actually be working AGAINST God. You and I may not be fully aware of what God is doing, or trying to do in their life, and many times we usually just hear 'one side' of the story. It's not that we are 'not' to share, but be slow to speak when we do so.
In fact, personally I have found the more mature, intimate, and Christlike men and women of God become, enjoying His presence, etc., the less quickly they are to even 'give advice'. Often you will hear them respond in ways such as, "What is God telling you? You may just need to wait and hear from Him." [Maybe the reason some of us don't do that is because WE want to be THE ONE they obtain the wisdom from, the one they look to and adore as GOD'S MAN or WOMAN for them or 'for the hour', thus usurping God's place in their lives. [As John Maxwell would say, "Just a thought."]
Second, in Receiving Advice – BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LISTEN TO! God instructs us to seek WISE COUNCIL from a VARIETY and MULTITUDE of people. But in our choosing, there are some things we should know and do. For example:
AVOID 'Know-it-alls' Nobody knows everything. The Scripture recounts this numerous times throughout Its pages. Think about the following...
If you need FINANCIAL WISDOM, then you should seek wisdom from God's Word and council from someone like, Dave Ramsey or Crown Ministries, NOT from someone who cannot handle their money.
If you need PARENTING ADVISE you should seek wisdom from God's Word and from someone with a track record of raising godly children. You would certainly NOT seek so-called 'words of wisdom' from someone who has never had nor raised a child of their own.
If you need help in your MARRIAGE? Again, seek wisdom from His Word and from people who have weathered the storms, honored our Lord, and truly love each other – people with a strong and loving marriage. NOT from a single individual or from those with poor marriages.
God's WILL – seek wisdom from many people in a variety of areas who have heard His voice and seen His hand. Learn first to follow His REVEALED will, moment-by-moment, then listen to others, and then ask what is He speaking to your heart. Certainly do NOT listen to someone who may receive some type of BENEFIT from what they may "share" with you."
LEADERSHIP – Always avoid the council from someone who is worshiped, demands respect, and is constantly being served by others, simply because they lead a large organization, are well known or are popular. Jesus told us how to determine who a true leader is – it is one who SERVES those working alongside him or her. NOT for show, accolades or recognition, but as John The Baptist said, "He must increase, and I must decrease." Or Jesus when He said, "esteem others better than yourself" plus "he that will be first among you will be last." Needless to say, the list can go on-and-on.
4. Test Their Words Is what they are saying really lining up to God's Heart, His Revealed Will and Word? If not, then DON'T listen to them.
I remember one time a "brother" 'felt led to admonish me' regarding several things 'he just knew' were not in my life, things that he felt were short-comings. His motive? Who knows – maybe it boosted his ego or made him feel superior or more spiritual in doing so. Whatever his reasons, what was interesting is that 'what he shared with me' was WRONG on ALL counts even though he was convinced he was right. Go figure, and yet he said, "The Lord told him these things." It makes me wonder which lord he was listening to? Needless to say his council did not mean very much.
5. Watch Their Reactions This is where THE MOST DANGER LIES. If you ever have someone, in any spiritual capacity and one of the following occurs, AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE.
If someone ever 'gives you advice' and you not do exactly 'what' they said, or 'how or when' they wanted you to do it? If their response is that they: 'write you off', judge or condemn you, demean you, speak or look down to/on you, talk about you to others, get angry with or are loud and 'in your face', posture around or against you, yell at you, act more spiritual or more holier-than- thou, justify what they are doing by saying they are 'tough loving' you, or you may hear hints and warnings about "others" who 'failed to head their advice and wisdom", make you 'jump through hoops, fill and meet their agendas to be 'truly accepted' by them, if they try to manipulate you or are spiritually abusing you, or even accuse you of 'questioning their authority', then RUN AWAY FROM THEM as fast as you can. DON'T stay there. FLUSH them and their so-called wisdom from your mind, heart and life and simply follow, love and enjoy God and embrace the loving admonishment from His Word which states that…
"…in the multitude (abundance of, many) counselors [e.g. brothers and sisters with no hidden agendas, no hooks, people who truly are Christlike, and will love and admonish you like Christ selflessly] there is safety."
In other words, Love and Enjoy Him and find HIS M.O.W.C. T.E.A.M.