Often times, when the church is meeting and living together as a family and functioning as the priesthood of all believers, families and brothers and sisters will ask the body for wise counsel for a difficult situation or decision.
The ultimate goal of the request is to find the Lord’s mind together.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22 ESV
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15 ESV
Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive counsel (friendly reproof and warning). Ecclesiastes 4:13 AMP
Sometimes the need for counsel will be shared with the whole church. Often, the situation will be shared with a few other trustworthy brothers and/or sisters to provide help.
The local body being approached should take these requests seriously and determine a plan to address the situation together. Sometimes the nature of the issue is sensitive, and therefore some discretion is required to protect the dignity of the person(s) needing help. Simply treat private information as such and avoid gossip.
A great deal of humility is needed, whether you are giving or receiving advice.
I’ve made the following observations in my experience:
10 Things to Consider When Giving or Receiving Advice
1. Recognize the difference between an emotional decision and the wise thing to do. Find the balance.
Stressful situations can easily drive you towards panic mode and cause you to make knee-jerk decisions based on fear and anxiety. These are often less than optimal decisions. Pressing “pause” and taking the time to consult with others can help us see that there is a better way out. Forming a plan around this helps bring the stress levels back to a manageable level.
2. If we discern the wise path with the mind of Christ, we can trust Him to help us deal with emotions so that they do not overwhelm us.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Set your mind on things above. Even in the most difficult times, Peace and Rest are living inside of you.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22 NLT
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NLT
3. Realize that debt can impede the Lord’s will in our lives. It makes something or someone other than Christ our master.
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24 NLT
Many situations in the body are financial in nature. I really believe that debt entangles us with the world systems and keeps us from following Christ in complete freedom. I’m not saying to never have financial debt, but try to minimize it as much as possible and think long and hard before taking debts on.
4. Sometimes the Lord gives specific direction, but He often gives general direction and leaves us to determine a path forward in His wisdom.
5. Consider your responsibility to the body as though the body was your family (which it is).
Irresponsible decisions can damage the body. Take your time and give weight to the counsel of the body.
6. Realize that someone who asks for the wisdom of the Lord through His body may not hear what they want to hear. This is actually a safeguard against making emotional decisions.
7. If the body takes the request seriously, the focus is really on finding the Lord’s mind in the situation. It would be irresponsible for the body to provide validation to someone that may not be acting in their best interest.
8. Realize that all of our decisions are interconnected. No single decision is made in isolation from the other areas of our lives.
Making a decision in one area may add stress to another area of our lives. Consider all of the potential areas that a decision may effect.
9. Determine a strategy to accomplish the Lord’s will for your life. Find the path that orients you in the direction He is leading.
I’ve found that it is helpful to take a step back when making decisions and ask the Lord where He is leading you in general. Make sure that your other life decisions support this direction, or you may not be available as Christ desires.
10. Remember that God’s wisdom and ways are beyond ours.
Don’t approach a decision with human wisdom. While our experiences may be quite helpful, first discern what it is that the Lord wants. I’ve found that He often has a unique answer in many situations. He gives us His Spirit so that He can reveal and express His ways through us.
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