Hate to admit it, but here’s one of my favorite jokes: King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That means he could’ve honestly looked any of them in the eyes and said, “Honey, you’re one in a thousand.”
Rim shot aside, the “joke” was on Solomon. All these wives and concubines ended up being his great downfall – and ultimately, the downfall of Israel. How could this possibly have happened to the wisest man ever? Pretty simple. Unlike his father, David, there’s very little (if any) record of Solomon surrounding himself with good counsel during his reign as king. Counselors who would have questioned his actions. Counselors who would have warned him of the consequences. Counselors who would have declared God’s sure word. But these voices were noticeably absent in Solomon’s court. He must have figured he owned the market on wisdom.
So, where do you go for counsel? Who are the wise counselors in your court? How do you respond to their words of wisdom? In a day and age where we’re just one click away from a flood of worldly thinking and values, we desperately need access to good kingdom counsel. Godly guidance that can stem the lies and confusion and seduction that aim to steal His destiny for our lives.
In this first of a two-part series, I reveal six things you need to know about getting good counsel in your life.
1. Good counsel does grow on trees.
I’m talking fruit here. Make sure to look for the right fruit when deciding who to go to for counsel.
- Wisdom: Look for someone who exudes a deep-hearted knowledge of God’s kingdom ways. This is far, far more important than a Sherlock-level IQ or a dozen wall-hanging degrees.
- Impartiality: Look for someone who has no dogs in the fight – who will be able to give you unbiased, unreserved feedback. (Steer clear of those who have their own plans for your life or who have a vested interest in the issue at hand or who might tend to protect you to the detriment of others.)
- Commitment to God’s Word: Look for someone who loves and lives and believes the Word of God.
- Life experience: Look for someone who speaks from years of living his own counsel – who has a reputation for walking his own talk.
2. There’s safety in numbers.
In Proverbs 11:14, Solomon wrote, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Wish he would’ve walked his own talk in this one. That said, this remains an important key to getting good counsel. An abundance of (good) counselors can lead to better, clearer, surer counsel, and protect from any bad bits that might creep in. So don’t just lean on the wisdom of one or two, get a gaggle of guidance instead. (This principle is especially important when dealing with bigger issues or decisions in life.)
3. Your biggest decisions can be your biggest temptations.
One of the most baffling things I’ve seen through the years is the number of major decisions that get made without true counsel. The same people who readily get advice on which breakfast cereal to buy or where to get their hair cut, often shy away from seeking wisdom on such significant issues as who they should marry, what career path to pursue, which church to attend, or whether to homeschool their kids. Hello?!
I think I finally figured it out. Many people are threatened by the possibility that someone else (think counselor) would have even a hint of influence or control in these major areas of their lives. They don’t want anyone to be in a position to mess with their own personal dreams or desires in life. Breakfast cereal? No problem. Marriage partner? No way.
To the outsider looking in, the absurdity is obvious. Not so to the insider under threat. Their unwillingness to seek godly counsel in these major areas of life is most likely a sign that they haven’t yet fully yielded their lives to God. Not a very good prescription for living the blessed life.
I want to encourage you, please don’t ditch the idea of counsel “in the big things” because you’re tempted by the desire to retain control of your life. A yielded life is a life lived under the blessing, protection, and favor of a good, good God who has good, good plans for your life. Godly counsel will lead you smack in the middle of that amazing place.
4. Prepare your yes before walking through their door.
Before you go get counsel about something, make sure you set your heart to receive it. That means listening with an expectant, trusting heart to the counselor’s view of your situation. That means being more than willing to follow any suggestions they might offer. That means having an attitude that leans toward submission instead of one that wants to wait and see.
A shopping mentality for counsel (“If I like it I’ll toss it in my cart”) can put you in position to miss out on the very best counsel. Because the very best counsel often challenges our thinking, demands tough change, or takes us out of our comfort zones. Things we don’t naturally like. So get your heart ready before you receive counsel. Look forward to the kind of guidance that will make a real difference in your life. And know that God’s favor and blessing is all over that kind of attitude.
5. Be fair with the facts.
Make sure and tell the counselor everything they need to know in order to give you the best counsel. (Try not to hold out on any of the relevant details, no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable it might make you.) If possible, jot down a few notes before you even go see the counselor – some of the most important things you feel they need to know. The counselor will, of course, ask you lots of questions, but the better prepared you are the better counsel you’ll receive.
6. Their counsel is not your cop out.
Receiving counsel from someone should never be used as an excuse not to own the responsibility for your decisions in life. “The counselor told me it was okay to marry her, and now look at the mess!” Where some people are afraid or feel threatened to receive counsel for major life decisions, others are actually relieved, feeling that the counsel somehow gives them a free pass from taking full responsibility for the decision. Guess what? It doesn’t. I encourage you to recognize counsel for what it truly is, and be grateful for its place in your life.
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
(Be sure and stay tuned for the second part of our series, this one looking at six things you need to know about giving good counsel.)