Taking Counsel

The Bible has a lot to say about seeking and listening to advice. We are encouraged to do both, although I would say there is an asterisk that belongs here. And the fine print in God’s Word says that we want to seek and listen to godly counsel, and wise advice. Not just any old recommendation from just anyone will do.

Yet even when we know that people in our circle are wise and godly, it may still not be the case that you would take just any kind of advice on any and all topics from those folks.

For the very same reasons we ought to seek counsel – our own limited knowledge and understanding, our own hearts being deceitful above all things as Jeremiah 17:9 says, et cetera – we should not suppose that even the truest and best of fallible creatures in our circles are always reliable on every topic.

As Gandalf tells Frodo, “Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

Abundance of Counselors

All the same, we are encouraged to seek counsel and to heed it. Among the many admonitions in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, we find Proverbs 11:14.

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

But here in this passage with this talk of an abundance of counselors I spot something. What advantage would be found in getting advice from several different people? Simply put, when you ask for input from several different people with different perspectives, temperaments, attitudes, dispositions, and biases, you can fill in gaps in the knowledge or wisdom which any one source might be susceptible to.

We all have blindspots and limitations. That is why we should get advice. But that is also the exact reason why even the counsel of our individual advisors should be qualified.

If I ask advice from three to five of my closest confidants and either all or most of them give the same recommendation despite their different angles, I am more secure. And if I ask for counsel from several friends and family members and they all say different things, I may glean there is more than one way to skin a cat.

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