Where Do You Go For Advice?
Ask my kids what my number one life rule is and they will tell you, “Don’t do dumb.”
I learned this lesson from a book about mistakes people made in their careers and the consequences of those mistakes. A common thread ran throughout each of their stories. They had big ideas and big dreams, but they didn’t have the self-discipline to pull back and see the big picture before getting into situations that created big trouble and, in some cases, cost them their livelihoods. If they had taken a little more time to evaluate the situation and receive wisdom from others with experience, they could have saved themselves a lot of grief. I summarized the book in those three words – don’t do dumb – and later realized that rule should apply to all areas of our lives, not just our careers.
The Bible offers us wisdom for our lives, too. A section of the Bible – including Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs – is known as the Books of Wisdom. King Solomon, who was famous for his wisdom, wrote some 3,000 proverbs, many of them about wisdom itself and how we can apply wisdom to our daily lives. Admittedly Solomon’s proverbs were a little classier than “don’t do dumb,” but that refrain rings true through much of what he wrote, too.
As I read Solomon’s wisdom, one thing that stands out to me is the influence and prayers of his father for him. King David, Solomon’s father, gave him some of the best advice and life rules a parent can give:
“Be a good and strong leader. Obey the Lord your God. Follow him by obeying his demands, his commands, his laws, and his rules that are written in the teachings of Moses. If you do these things, you will be successful in all you do wherever you go.” (1 Kings 2:2-3 NCV)
“Accept the God of your father. Serve him completely and willingly because the Lord knows what is in everyone’s mind. He understands everything you think. If you go to him for help, you will get an answer. But if you turn away from him, he will leave you forever. …Be strong and brave and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or leave you until all the work for the Temple of the Lord is finished. The groups of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the Temple of God. Every skilled worker is ready to help you with all the work. The leaders and all the people will obey every command you give.” (1 Chronicles 28:9, 20-21 NCV)
A parenting lesson I heard early on was to change our negative instructions to our children into positive statements. Rather than stating the behaviors we don’t want to see, we tell our children what they should be doing. Instead of saying, “Don’t run,” we should say, “Walk.” Instead of saying, “Don’t yell,” we should say, “Talk quietly.” David did this well. Instead of saying, “Don’t do dumb,” he told Solomon, “Accept God. Follow God. Obey God. Serve God. Ask God for help. Trust God.”
David took his advice a step further, too, when he reminded Solomon of all the people around him ready to help him. God didn’t give Solomon unattainable goals; He gave him teams to help him complete the work ahead of him. Solomon’s task was to build a Temple. Our task is to make disciples. We don’t do this alone; we do this together as the Church.
Where do you go for advice? What lessons are you teaching others around you? Who helps you along the way? My prayer is that we will heed – and pass along – David’s instructions to follow, serve and trust God, both independently and collectively. And, just for good measure, I’ll also offer this: don’t do dumb. - Kathy Raines, Minister of Administration