Hearing What We Want to Hear
When I have a difficult decision to make, I usually run my ideas by one or two other people to get their input. I admit, though, in some cases, I have already made up my mind and am merely looking for validation. But at other times, I ask out of a genuine desire for guidance.
Our own motives can get in the way of finding good advice. So we must first identify our true intentions. Do you already know what path you intend to take or are you legitimately seeking further knowledge? What do you hope to gain from your peers when you seek their input? Have you selected specific individuals from whom to solicit advice because they fit certain criteria—or excluded others for the same reason? It’s natural to gravitate toward those who will tell us what we want to hear, but this isn’t always the wisest course.
Once you have established where you are coming from, it’s important to understand clearly where your advice-givers stand. Do they have your best interest at heart or could ulterior motives cloud their judgment? Are they biased about your situation for any reason? Do they fully understand you and your circumstances? Have they given you helpful guidance in the past? And most importantly, do they share your values and faith?
Even with all of the “right” cards on the table in front of you, drawing conclusions about difficult matters isn’t always straightforward. It is sometimes hard to know precisely what our deepest intentions are, let alone assess the motives of others. That’s why prayer is essential. Ultimately, the greatest advice giver is the Holy Spirit. God often uses our friends to direct us to the right path, but when we listen to counsel, we must always remember to put the Holy Spirit at the top of the list. As James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him,” (James 1:5).
Written by By Tonya Stoneman