Axioms…from my perspective

normally, i dedicate thursdays to giving some of my personal life axioms…truth that, from my perspective, is self-evident. sometimes practical. sometimes philosophical. sometimes whimsical. but truth, no less.

and i’m late, again.

also, i’m pretty long-winded today.  make sure you read all of it!

“pray for wisdom…seek wisdom…cherish wisdom…it’s how you will make it through life.”

the bible has a lot to say about wisdom…far better than i can say it:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  Psalm 19:7

Teach us to number our days aright,  that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.  Proverbs 12:5

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.  Proverbs 15:22

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.  Proverbs 28:26

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  Matthew 7:24

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  1 Corinthians 1:20-21

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17

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

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.   James 3:13

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17

these are awesome words!  but are we paying attention?

everyday, people are making decisions.  difficult, life-altering decisions.  ultimately, nobody can make those decisions but the people that have to make them.  in the midst of it all, though, god has provided two very specific steps in the process of difficult decision-making.

and people tend to struggle with both of them.

the first one is to pray for wisdom.  we blow this one up all the time.  most of our prayers are way too complicated.  it seems like we want to tell god all about our situation and then try to make sure he is fully in tune with what outcome we think would be the most favorable…instead of simply praying for wisdom…which god promises to give.

the second is to seek wise counsel.  this one is trickier, but ultimately the most practical.

it’s our nature to want to make decisions on our own.  to be independent.  to show that we can stand on our own two feet and prove to the world that we are adults and we are the controllers of our own destiny.  so most of the time, we just make the decisions.

but it is most often through wise counsel that god communicates wisdom…the same wisdom we have prayed that he would give us!

sometimes, we even ask some people to give their opinions about our situation…and we might even factor those opinions into our process.  but the seeking of wise counsel is totally different.

wise counsel are people who are older and wiser.  people who have been through things, made mistakes, and come out the other side with perspectives we can only dream about.

wise counsel are people who we trust.  people who can separate their own feelings from the realities our situation.  people who have our best interests in mind.  people who are deep enough and strong enough and godly enough to say the difficult things to us…when we need to hear them.

wise counsel are people who are saturated in the word of god and can see our situation in light of the growth and purpose of the kingdom of god.  people who are acquainted enough with the past…to be able to see clearly into the future on our behalf.

there are not many who attain the position of wise counsel in our lives…but we have to have them…and we are foolish if we don’t seek them out, listen and act on their wisdom.  it’s why god has given them to us!

when i was 24 years old, i faced the most difficult decision of my life.  i was being pursued by a church to be their youth minister.  i had learned the value of seeking wise counsel, so in my youthful obedience, i sought it out.  and out.  and out!

i solicited 60-70 different opinions about whether i should go to this church.  former staff members of the church.  former and current members of the church.  bible college professors.  close friends of mine.  and every single one of them said “don’t go”!! they said i wouldn’t fit…that it was a dysfunctional church…too traditional…too narrow…i would be miserable…they paid horrible…their priorities were all wrong…their philosophy of ministry was very different from mine…you name it!  and they were right on a lot of points.

on top of everything else, i did not want to go! there was nothing about going to this church that appealing to me.  and their consensus opinions totally reinforced what i was feeling.

but those people did not represent my wise counsel. they just represented opinions.  but the two people who i trusted the most…respected the most…knew me the best…and i had given the position of wise counsel in my life…well, they both told me i should go.   in spite of everything else that had been said to me, they, alone, saw the bigger picture. they had the courage to say the difficult things.  they pushed me to live by faith.  they made me face my fears and challenged me to make changes in my life.

and i listened to them.  not to the opinions of others.  not to logic.  not to the obvious.  i listened to the wise counsel that god had put into my life and commanded me (in scripture) to follow.

and their counsel was right.  i’m glad i listened to them and followed their advice.  i said “yes” to the church, and my life would never be what it is today.

so here are my questions for you:  do you have wise counsel?  do you listen?  do you trust god enough to speak through them?  if you don’t, why not?  what are you going to do about it?


2 thoughts on “Axioms…from my perspective

  1. Funny how when we are seeking wise counsel we typically seek out people that we are pretty sure they are going to fall in line with what we want. They will reinforce an idea that we have pretty much already decided in our minds. We aren’t looking for an answer. We are looking for affirmation.

    I’m lucky to have people in my life that aren’t afraid to tell me that I’m being an idiot. They don’t candy coat the situation. They see through my stubbornness and independence and tell me this is what is right.

    I’ve also been lucky enough to have others ask me for advice. I by no means think I was their wise counsel but, I do believe God gave me that opportunity to speak His word to them. It is humbling. It is difficult to set my feelings aside at times. The feelings of sadness, anger, joy, jealously, etc… are sometimes hard to get past. But you have to speak to that person honestly and let the word of God speak to them.

  2. Wisdom has come from some surprising sources over my lifetime. I learned the most profound lesson about grace from my small son who could see that a person I was struggling with might actually be acting out in great pain.

    I believe Luke is on target. We seek to talk with people who we think will mostly agree with us so we can feel good about what we’ve already decided.

    Sometimes we seek wisdom thinking we’re going to get mostly agreement just to find an opposite point of view. Then we feel justified to reject the counsel.

    Asking for wisdom and being open to what is said are both acts of courage and trust. It’s possible I should open myself up to more sources of wisdom, but I am most comfortable talking with people who love God with their whole being and who I know love me deeply.

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