“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2, NIV)
Have you ever known someone who loved to hear the sound of their own voice? Or a person who never really seemed to listen, but always cut you off with their own story or advice? How about someone who always seemed to know exactly how you felt and what you were going through, even though they never took the time to actually understand your situation?
I’ve known many, many people like that in my life. And, if I’m honest, there are times when I’ve been one of those people! If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of such a person, you can testify to the truth of Proverbs 18:2. A person who doesn’t really care about you, but just wants to hear himself wax eloquently, shows himself for a fool. He may think he’s wowing you with his wisdom and brilliance when in reality he’s making a donkey of himself because he won’t shut up.
Everyone struggles with pride in one way or another. All of us have opinions, but we need to remember that sometimes our opinions don’t matter. Sometimes what someone needs is our attention, not our advice. Our care, not our solutions. Our prayer, not our opinions. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is the gift of being understood, and being loved in the understanding.
My prayer for the week is that God will give us each an opportunity to listen, and that he will nudge us through the Holy Spirit when we need to stop talking and start understanding.
“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10, NIV)
Have you ever known someone who was always asking for advice, but never taking it? Have you ever been someone who frequently asks for advice, but rarely takes it? There have been times in my life when I was desperate for advice. In those seasons, I drank in wisdom from older, more experienced people who’d already been through whatever I was in the middle of.
There have also been times in my life when I was pretty full of myself. I thought I knew what I was doing and didn’t want advice. When a well-meaning person offered me a word of wisdom, I only pretended to listen. My face was interested and attentive, but my heart was smug and prideful. I can always tell when I start getting this way by how I react to unasked for advice. If I’m annoyed, there’s a good chance I’m complacent and arrogant (even if I’m hiding it well).
What I have discovered, often the hard way, is that most advice has something of value I can take away. There are plenty of times when someone gives me advice I don’t want to hear. In fact, that may be the majority of the advice I’ve received throughout my life! But it’s often when I don’t want to hear it that it has a valuable nugget of wisdom for me.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received came from Dr. Green in a class at Moody Theological Seminary. He said (paraphrased), “You will leave Moody with a Master of Divinity–a higher level of theological education than most people you’ll meet. But, don’t think that you know God better than anyone else in your church–you don’t. You may have read books and written papers, but there’s a whole lot more to knowing God than that. You can learn something from every single person you meet. Never forget that.”
My prayer for this week is that we will each receive some advice with humility and grace.