Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
I don't know about you, but I don't always do too well at accepting advice. This is especially true of unsolicited advice. So the other day when a church member began to offer his insights on how I could improve my ministry, it was hard for me not to get angry. As he explained the benefits of restructuring my ministry after the pattern of his ministry, I felt myself grow defensive rather quickly.
I stood smiling and nodding politely but I was beginning to seethe on the inside when the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the many biblical proverbs which state that fools hate correction and reject advice. In that moment God graciously placed this question on my heart, "Is this person trying to hurt me or help me?" Immediately I knew the answer. The person I was speaking with was a friend who cares about me. It was a man whom I respect and who was legitimately trying to help. I realized that I was being defensive because of my own insecurity not because he was attacking me.
So I stopped nodding politely and determined to start actually listening to what my friend was saying. I wasn't sure that I agreed with much that he was saying, but I determined to hear him out anyway. I told myself that I could think through and pray over his suggestions later to determine whether any of them should actually be enacted in my ministry. For now, my goal was to simply hear him out so that I could see if there might be some gold nugget of wisdom in there somewhere.
To be honest, I left that conversation thinking I disagreed with my friend and that I probably wouldn't apply any of what he had said. But I also left the conversation wondering if I was wrong. "Maybe I have missed something," I thought. Now just a matter of weeks later, I am getting rather close to implementing one of my friend's suggestions. If I had allowed my defensiveness to cause me to stop my ears to my friend's advice, then I would have been the living embodiment of the stupid man in Proverbs 12:1 who hates correction. Instead, thanks to the Holy Spirit's gentle rebuke and a good friend in Christ, my ministry is about to be improved. He and I still don't exactly see eye to eye, but because I was willing to listen to his advice my eyes were opened to new possibilities I otherwise would not have considered.
Ask God to help you be more like the wise man or woman who is secure enough to accept advice, rebuke, correction, and instruction. You don't have to accept every piece of advice that comes your way, but at least be wise enough to listen to it. Only a fool thinks he is always right.
For further reading...
- Proverbs- How about a book of fatherly advice?