Laslett John Pott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
We all need advice from time to time. We need people in our lives that can speak into dilemmas or challenges we must confront to give us insight, a different perspective, or direction. Proverbs talks a lot about the importance of having advisors and asserts:
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Prov 19:20).
In Managing Oneself, Peter F. Drucker states that some people need advisors to force themselves to think, “then they can make decisions and act on them with speed, self-confidence, and courage (pg 20). That’s me. I often need someone who knows the right questions to ask to help me order my thoughts and priorities without necessarily trying to give me “the answer.”
But how do we know who to listen to? How do we recognize someone who we can trust to give us wise counsel?
I have many friends with stories of pursuing their dream of business ownership. Many of those stories portray success and accomplishment, inspiring onlookers to follow their own dreams and entrepreneurial spirits. Others, however, are stories of loss, betrayal, and bitter disappointment. Some have lost their business, been thrust into uncontrollable debt, or found themselves in prison for illegal activities their partners conducted unbeknownst to them. These stories can be terrifying and make us ask, “Is there any wisdom for choosing a partner that will protect my investment and ensure the greatest opportunity for success?”
Of course, there is risk. Starting a business takes risk– everyone knows that the risk-takers are usually the rain-makers, but some risks may not be worth taking in the long run– like choosing a poor fit to partner with in your new venture. Another term for this kind of partnership is yoking.
Who will you “yoke” yourself to when attempting a big venture?
If you have been around the church for a while, you have probably heard the New Testament caution, “Do not be yoked with an unbeliever” (2 Cor 6:14), which is most often applied in the context of dating and marriage. That is HUGE and I cannot underscore enough the importance of this in the context of personal relationships, but I believe this has a much broader application than most Christians know or practice.
A few nights ago, I had trouble getting to sleep…I mean TROUBLE! Everything was wrong…the room was too warm, my pillow too hard, the covers too heavy, and my mind- I just couldn’t shut it down. It was speeding into overdrive imagining every possible thing that could go wrong. Yes, that old frenemy “fear” had come to visit.
Loic Djim- Unsplash
I’m not sure why I was so anxious that night- it had been a great day— but as I was winding down, I started to feel uneasy. “It’s too much….” The day was too much, my commitments were too much, the news was DEFINITELY too much…and before you know it, I was laying in bed tossing and turning to the sound of complete chaos in my mind while watching precious minutes speed by.
I tried praying– that’s what most Christians do (understandably) when we start to panic, but I couldn’t!! There was so much noise in my head that I could not organize a single, coherent sentence!!
Everyone today seems to be offended by something or by someone…it is the latest victim-mentality of the 20-teens, or whatever we’re supposed to call this decade of the 21st Century. You know how it goes, you do or say something, whether audibly or digitally, something that might reflect your unique feeling, opinion, or perspective on something, without considering if every. single. person. within range would agree with you, and BOOM! Conditions are ripe for offense.
Caleb Woods Unsplash – no alterations
A few weeks ago my toddler and I were having lunch with friends. You know the sitch- we’re talking, laughing, eating our weight in chips and salsa, and the child decides she no longer wants to sit quietly like the perfect little cherub. I feed her chips, one of those brilliant squeezy-pouch applesauce concoctions, and all the chicken from my soup, but she wasn’t having it. Like a fighter pilot in a tailspin, she searched frantically for the emergency ejection button to her highchair, to no avail. She let out a howl here and there, but this was not what an experienced mom like me calls a four-alarm tantrum…nothing requisite of a “trip to the bathroom” or an early departure– she was moderately irritating if I had to be honest.
Do you question what it takes to grow in wisdom? Do you find yourself doubting that YOUR life could reflect and amplify godly wisdom or wonder if you can experience the peace and blessings of being on the right path?
Moses sought a “heart of wisdom” in (Ps 90:12) and Job’s friend Elihu believed that God shows a “regard for all the wise in heart” (Job 37:24.)
So what does our heart have to do with wisdom?
Most of us think of wisdom as being associated with intelligence, experience, or discernment, not something that goes deeper, to the very heart of a person.
This Sunday is called “Sanctity of Life Sunday.” It was enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1983- the official proclamation can be found here.
National Archives, Michael Evans photographer
His words were heartfelt and haunting: “These children, over tenfold the number of Americans lost in all our Nation’s wars, will never laugh, never sing, never experience the joy of human love; nor will they strive to heal the sick, or feed the poor, or make peace among nations. Abortion has denied them the first and most basic of human rights, and we are infinitely poorer for their loss.
We are poorer not simply for lives not led and for contributions not made, but also for the erosion of our sense of the worth and dignity of every individual. To diminish the value of one category of human life is to diminish us all. Slavery, which treated Blacks as something less than human, to be bought and sold if convenient, cheapened human life and mocked our dedication to the freedom and equality of all men and women. Can we say that abortion — which treats the unborn as something less than human, to be destroyed if convenient — will be less corrosive to the values we hold dear?”
Now we stand at the 44th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision and it is estimated that since that historical ruling, 59-60 Million children have been aborted. But who knows the millions MORE that have been performed before these procedures were legalized and tracked?
We live in a culture of more. More things. More food. More fun. We strive to get more in nearly all aspects of our lives. More education. More responsibility. More money. Even things that are beneficial drive us towards getting more of something. More muscle. More focus. More time. And the more we get, the more we want. Yet we are never satisfied... never actually content.
I walk around my home and I see too much stuff…clothes, toys, books, knickknacks. Every Saturday I clean out the fridge and dispose of leftover foods from the week that we either cannot or will not eat, yet head to the store to buy more groceries. My bi-annual trips to donate unwanted households to our local charity have become monthly in an effort to curb that choking feeling when I look around at unnecessary stuff and struggle to breathe. The more I get, the worse I feel.
This 2016 political season has been hard on all of us. Most of us never anticipated just how nasty it would become through the campaigning, debates, and the daily onslaught of media coverage. My stomach is sick and I can only imagine yours is too.
It is our great honor and responsibility to vote for the next president of our nation. But I am left wondering how in the world do I vote for any of these candidates? Their views and plans are so diametrically different and it seems that each candidate, will give America a massive pill to swallow whether it is regarding healthcare, immigration, the economy, or dealing with enemies at home and abroad. We are indeed, a nation divided.
And unfortunately, so is the Church.
She thought everything was fine…except that they HAD been drifting apart for a while now….and their time together was awkward and sort of dull….and he had been struggling at work and starting to question himself….and so what if it had been a long time since they were intimate. They were “fine,” she thought. “He’s just in a bad place” she thought...
No matter how often I hear these stories, (and being in ministry, we hear of this quite often I am sad to report,) I still find myself stunned and wonder, “What? Them? No way!”
From the outside, most of us never see something like that coming, but I believe there is a common thread in every story of infidelity. There may be a common denominator we can find to possibly avoid those same devastating results.
In light of recent terror attacks in Pakistan (over Easter), Belgium, Mali, Paris, the downed Russian Jetliner, and countless reports of atrocities by terrorist groups worldwide, we may hear our children asking questions like, “Are they coming here? Will they come for us?”
These are natural questions for our kids to ask and if we are honest, we too are wondering the same. Most adults understand that there are gaps in our security and people both abroad and even within our borders who wish to do us harm.
We remember 9/11. We remember Fort Hood…Boston…San Fernadino. Of course there have been others and sadly, we can expect there to be more.
But who wants to get into all of that with our kids? You want to reassure them right? You do not want to feed their fears. You want to give them (and others) peace of mind and hope that although there may be battles to fight, and we may take a few hits, that ultimately we have a greater weapon and will prevail.