We rarely ask our friends or family their opinions on how we could improve our lives. Honestly, we don’t really ask people for advice about our lives unless we know what they are going to say. It is a rare thing to ask friends what they think we should do in a particular circumstance.
We are quick to invite help into our lives when we are in our comfort zone of asking. Take waterskiing, for instance. When I’m skiing, I see and feel the things that I am doing wrong or need to improve on. When I get to the end of the course, I usually ask, “What did you see?” You would not believe the responses I get sometimes. If the person was paying attention, he will be sharp and quick to tell me, “Lean more behind the boat; don’t pull in with your arms; you’re giving up your angle.” The list goes on and on. I won’t always ask. Sometimes I will just look into the boat with a look of help me.
If the person riding in the boat says something like, “Well, I really didn’t see anything,” then I know he may not have been paying attention to my skiing. This is not a problem, by the way. Sometimes, I prefer when people are not watching me; I can stay focused on my task, and that is simply completing the course. Think about that statement just for a minute, “I prefer it when people are not watching so I can just focus on completing the course.”
We don’t like people watching us with the intent of giving us advice. This is especially true with our spiritual lives and our family life.
Has anyone ever told you how to raise your child? I have been told, and my response to them was not Christ-like. Has anyone ever told you, “You're wrong in what you are doing: you are hurting the body of Christ with that attitude, and your sin is causing problems?”
That’s a tough one, but these are statements we don’t often hear. I wonder why that is. I believe it’s the fact that some of us are bound by pride; some bound by embarrassment; and some are bound by fear. We may not want to know what others think about our inner lives. This is a very trusted area, and you shouldn’t go to everyone asking for their advice. Also, be wary of asking people for advice who have put their lives in tiny boxes and think you are wrong if you step outside of those boundaries. Just use wisdom in picking those people you can confide in for counsel.
There is a madness behind this story. I was reading in Jonah the other day and thought about this. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and it holds many principles of life. In chapter one, it says, “One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son: ‘Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer.’ But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get” (MSG).
What if Jonah had a friend whom he trusted and could have asked, “What do you think about this?” Would the outcome have been any different? Would he still have run from God? I’m not sure what I would have said to Jonah; maybe I would have agreed with him and told him to run because the people in Nineveh were crazy. Maybe I would have said, “Let’s pray and seek God on this; He will confirm this for you and give you the strength you will need in this task.”
The point I am making is in life you can’t always go it alone. God has given you friends for a reason; you may need an extra set of eyes and an extra set of ears for any given circumstance. So, give up that old prideful attitude; give up that spirit of embarrassment; and give up that fear of being told something you don’t want to hear. Remember, you are asking them for a word of advice, and it’s up to you if you want to act on their suggestions. But before you ask anybody for anything, ask God first.