Proverbs 19:20, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”
Recently, after ending a revival meeting on the Eastern seaboard, the pastor was driving me back to the airport to catch the first flight back to Detroit (6a.m.). During that very early morning drive, he asked me if I had seen anything that he should stop doing–or something he should start doing–to be much more effective in his ministry. He then shared with me how he had asked the same question during the early years of his church of a dear friend of mine Dr. Shelton Smith (the editor of the “Sword of the Lord”) and Dr. Smith had told him to pave the parking lot, and then explained how important first impressions are, even before visitors get into the building or in the service. I remembered from the meeting that week, in the first service of our revival meeting, making a mental note of how sharp the parking lot looked. That question about advice, and then ACTING ON IT, said volumes about that young preacher and his desire to do something far and away from the average enterprises mostly seen in this hour for ETERNITY! Someone once said about advice, “Neither give advice nor salt until you are asked.” And Benjamin Franklin, a father of our country stated, “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” My experience has been, Mr. Franklin was HALF RIGHT.
Here are 3 touchstones to advice found in Proverbs 19:20.
A benchmark for advice is understand. I know that’s extremely basic, but it still needs to be stated: pay attention to both WHO you ask counsel from and WHAT advice they offer you. I’m extremely careful who I put on my “counsel cabinet.” Like mine, yours should have those who are obviously SAVED, SEPARATED, SPIRITUAL, and STRAIGHT SHOOTERS. When getting advice, ask questions if you don’t really comprehend what is being said, take notes (a 3x5 card is perfect for this), and ask for Bible examples, and even examples from your trusted advisor, of what is being presented to you. What profit is counsel that you really can’t wrap your mind around? UNDERSTAND!
“…and receive instruction,”
A benchmark for advice is utilize. If you have 0% intention of plugging into your life the practical information that is going to be given you, don’t waste both your time and the time of that individual whose instruction you really could care less about. Here’s an easy illustration of what I’m trying to say: don’t ask the car mechanic, “When should I change the oil in my car?,” when your last two automobiles had to be hauled off to the junkyard because you already had that information but never took the time to go to the garage and get the oil changed at 3,000 miles. It’s an amazing thing: counsel unfollowed is always counsel unfulfilled. UTILIZE!
“…that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”
A benchmark for advice is unfailing. There are BLESSINGS and BENEFITS that will only be brought to light tomorrow, if you clearly UNDERSTAND and UTILIZE the counsel that was given for your life and ministry today. Every truly successful individual will be quick to tell you that most of their present achievement is the direct result of the practical advice from their past. Babe Ruth had a hitting coach, Dr. Tom Malone had a trusted mentor in Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., and you will know another level of achievement by what you do with advice. UNFAILING!
So the question needs to be asked: when it comes to counsel, will you follow the Bible blueprint of Proverbs 19:20?