Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (Proverbs 19:20)
Theme: If not You, then Who?
Over the next two days we will turn our attention to the Discipline of Counsel. Throughout the Bible, there are numerous instances where seeking and giving good advice are encouraged. To enhance our effectiveness in advancing God’s kingdom we should practice giving and receiving good counsel. Many of us fall short in this area though because we don’t create the right environment for receiving and giving counsel. Today, we will consider the right environment for receiving counsel and tomorrow we will consider the right environment for giving good counsel.
Many years ago, I was sent on a course by the company I work for. One of the exercises on the course was about receiving advice. Each participant gave a presentation and then received feedback on their performance from the other participants. However, there was a unique twist to the exercise. Whatever the feedback or advice was (and sometimes it was harsh), the person receiving advice could only say two words. Thank you! In real life, this response will not always be practical because you may need to clarify the advice for example, but the purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate how much more willing others are to give candid advice if the environment is a receptive environment. I have used this lesson to very good effect in business over many years. When I apply the lesson, I am openly thankful for even negative feedback. Ultimately, I will benefit from an environment where others know I really want their advice, even if it is something I don’t relish hearing. To be clear, it doesn’t mean I always have to use the advice I receive, but I must graciously receive it.
The value of this lesson shouldn’t come as a surprise when we consider that the Bible clearly points us in this direction. In our passage for today, notice the first word, “Listen”. It is really important and it comes from an attitude of humility. And, you didn’t even have to pay for an expensive course to hear this lesson 😊.
Please read the short passage above and respond to the question below.
Do you believe you typically create environments (e.g., at home, church, work or school) that invite advice and feedback?
March 22, 2021 at 3:53 am
I always believe that seeking advice from my Christian friends, and leaders at church, especially mentors is crucial to my journey in this life. I agree with what you’ve explained in our topic for today that “ It doesn’t mean you always have to use the advice but must graciously receive it.” I often heed advice from Christian friends but I also try to see what would be the consequences, pros and cons if I follow the advice, and of course I pray for it. The final decision would still be my choice. Usually Christian friends’advice would mean it’s based on God’s word. That is so encouraging for me.
A situation just happened this week end on a Sunday afternoon.. If you remember, I shared here in previous lesson some days ago, about me having a hard time forgiving my three closest friends in Japan and some leaders of my church due to something that was kept secret from the church family, and it has something to do with Covid 19, the very reason for the world to shut down. Anyway when I was asked to have a meeting with our pastor this last weekend to discuss the issue and my point that leaders of the church is not only responsible for one individual, but for the whole group, my mentor/ friend from ladies bible study group advised me not to take my husband with me in the meeting since he is not a believer yet. I thought I need someone to just sit with me while discussing the issue with my pastor and I want someone to be with me because there were things that were said and done and I was really hurt by the action of some friends and one deacon. I was also unhappy about how it was kept secret from the pastor and the church family.
I didn’t follow the advice of my mentor (to not take my husband with me). I actually think it‘s kind of discriminating when she said “ don’t take him with you because He is not a believer.” I thank her for her advice and just told her, my husband is willing and happy to sit down and just listen to us discussing. I also explained to my mentor that this situation is actually a good “ testimony” for my husband as I want him to be saved. He should see that Christians and especially church family can agree or disagree. For me I want him to see Christians can make mistakes and we may argue, lay down every thing on the table, and try to resolve issues with prayer and Holy Spirit’s guidance. Praise God the meeting went well. Things were clarified, apologies were made as realization of mistakes and flaws were acknowledged.
On our way home, my husband said to me in the car, my intention was actually good, it’s just that my impatience and anger resulted into miscommunication. He also said to me that we have a good pastor who really loves all of us at church. I’m married to my husband for 33 years, and he knows me well so, if I listened to my mentor who advised me not to take my husband in the meeting, he would have missed that chance to see that Christians are not perfect, we make mistakes but we try to build each other and move forward. As for me, I’m still healing my wounds. I felt much better after the meeting. I still care for my friends who have wronged me but I know I have a God who will never fail me. I also believe I have hurt my friends too for my outrage and with exchange of words that should not have been said. They apologized to me and I’ve done the same, but since the issue happened, I haven’t seen them and attended church service physically as I was telling myself, I will wait till I can feel thatI I’ve truly forgiven them. My pastor gave me an advice that if I want to continue serving the Lord at church, I have to forgive and move on. I must say, I should take that advice seriously and start all over again with my relationships with them. Every day I asked for God’s forgiveness especially I also need to forgive myself for being angry.
As for my mentor’s advice, later on, she explained to me that the reason for her stopping me to go to the meeting and let my husband be a witness to the discussion was because she thought it would be better if everyone in the room are all Christians. I made her understand that for me, my husband is my best friend who knows me really well. In fact, for 33 years of being married to him, I know he understands clearly well, about God’s gift of salvation , because he had seen in me and in our adult kids how God has blessed and provided for us all these years. It’s not easy to witness to a Japanese, let alone a government official whose work has to some extent , align with the Buddhist and Shinto traditions of Japan government, one way or the other.
I’m sorry, my answer to this question became very long. Sometimes it’s easier for me to answer questions by citing my experiences in life as example to convey my point. But maybe, I tend to go off the topic as I get carried away by my wish to share my story in a precisely. It’s hard to really make a long story short. Thanks every one for your patience and time to read my long comments this time.
March 22, 2021 at 8:09 pm
No need for apologies Aurora. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
March 22, 2021 at 8:42 am
Thanks Aurora I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for being so authentic …
March 22, 2021 at 9:50 am
Thank you too Ayana. I made some typing mistakes again. I mean “ sharing my story precisely”. At first I typed,” in a precise way” but then I decided to just use the word precisely but forgot to erase “ in a”. Sorry I should have checked again before posting.
March 22, 2021 at 11:40 am
As I reflect on my life in the sphere identified I will say that I have created an environment to invite advice and feedback. Sometimes the feedback received from different sources might conflict and I will need to make a decision that will not be in accord with a particular perspective. However, overall have benefited greatly from the counsel of others.
March 22, 2021 at 1:18 pm
I would say no I do not typically create environments that invite advice and feedback. This is because I am isolated from a Church family. I do not attend church because I felt discouraged by the one I was attending near my home in Baltimore and I have not been motivated to find another one. Doing this study has provided a little spark of incentive to find a new church because I am seeing how much I am missing. I do have a couple Christians in my life from whom I seek advice but I understand this is inadequate. Mistakes can be costly and can cause you to miss God’s will for your life – some opportunities are gone forever. I heard that yesterday in an internet sermon. This also gave me food for thought.
March 22, 2021 at 8:49 pm
Typically, I have no problem accepting advice and discipline. Note the operative word “typically” but there are times when I am hesitant, depending on the advice or situation, and I don’t think it’s out of arrogance but rather out of “experience teaching wisdom.”
Imagine a real scenario where as a department at a school, you are asked to provide feedback on the sequence in which certain topics should be taught, and at which grade level, in a foreign language. Each teacher must provide feedback and I happened to be the only dissenting voice, very respectfully and calmly. The Vice Principal and the Head of the Department who conducted the meeting and both of whom taught the subject, were at first in agreement with all the other members of the department. I was the lone voice in the wilderness and when voting time came everyone was on the same page, except me. Then the Vice Principal who herself was an excellent Spanish teacher asked me to share with the department why I disagreed and why we should teach certain topics in the sequence and at the grade level I suggested. I gladly did!
I was both happy and surprised when she said, “You know, teachers, I hear what you are saying and maybe because for years now we’ve been doing it that way, we didn’t bother to change anything but I think Mrs.Oliver is right so let’s give it a try and see how it works.” The feedback from staff at the end of the term was tremendous & thank God, though initially a few persons reluctantly changed their approach and timing, the department literally applauded at the end of the school term when we did our “post mortem” as we jokingly used to say after exams, and both the Vice Principal and the HOD (Head of Department) verbally expressed their thanks, noting that we would “go along with Mrs. Oliver’s suggestion as the students had no problem learning those topics in second form and they did a great job on their End of Term exam. ”
As for discipline, my greatest challenge is this course: “Forty Days of Discipline!” 😂😂
March 22, 2021 at 10:22 pm
Thank you for sharing this Sister Sharon! I couldn’t help but noticing that the Vice Principal created a healthy environment by genuinely listening to a dissenting voice.
March 24, 2021 at 9:16 pm
You are welcome. Great observation.
March 22, 2021 at 10:24 pm
I really have not given this much thought but I take advice better now as I am older.
I also ask people for advice but this is because I want to know what other people think.