Have you ever gotten bad advice, the kind that actually cost you something? You look back and wonder why you trusted that advisor. Chances are you won’t go back to them again.
Have you ever given bad advice? It’s painful when our best efforts end up causing pain or loss for someone who trusted us enough to seek our counsel and act on it. Sometimes the trust is broken forever, even though they knew we meant well.
We trust those we believe to be competent and to have good character; they know what they are talking about and they have our best interests at heart. If either (or both) of those assumptions prove mistaken, trust evaporates. Of course, incompetence is easier to forgive than evil intentions. But either way, we probably won’t go back for more.
Have you ever given bad advice to yourself? What does that do to trust?
It’s funny how many chances we give ourselves to get it right after getting it wrong so often. For some reason our trust in ourselves is more durable than our trust in others. We are amazingly loyal. Perhaps it is just too frightening to imagine that we are unreliable, even though part of us already knows it is true.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 contrasts two sources of advice:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 14:12 is even more sobering:
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
Have you ever thought of the media as advice? That’s really what it is. Advice about what to buy, what to want, what to fear, what is cool, what is right, what to think, how to position yourself for the future, and of course, who to trust. We are being advised all the time.
Advisors who are far from competent, and who we can be sure have only THEIR best interest at heart chatter at us all the time. I often hear people express amazement at the terrible decisions we see being made all around us. But it’s really no mystery. Bad advice.
The media has a knack for making us think we are sophisticated and wise, and that we are the ones making the decision.
Filtering the constant barrage of advice coming our way every waking hour is a daunting task. But nothing will determine the course of our lives more that the advisors we choose, and the ones we reject.
I would like to encourage all of us to consider seriously our own fallibility and the high price of taking bad advice and giving bad advice to those who are counting on us.
The following exercise will take a lot of courage, but I believe some of you will try it. Pay attention for a few days and calculate the ratio of time you spend consuming media, from all sources, compared to time you spend actively seeking God’s counsel in His Word and prayer.
If that is too frightening, try this. Ask yourself what you would like for that ratio to be for me, your pastor.
I’ve lived long enough to distrust myself, and the advisors I would naturally chose. How about you?