Consultations can answer questions

Saturday, March 8, 2008

From the moment we wake up to the moment we finally drift off to sleep, we make decisions. Daily decisions that navigate a course between the simple and complex. Decisions on such questions as "what do I wear?" or "What should I have for breakfast?" or "Do I really need a second piece of 'death by chocolate' cake?" "What can I do to know my children better?" "What must I do to save my marriage?" "Should we call hospice for mom?"

We come to the decisions related to simple questions fairly easily. I need to wear a sweater, it's cold outside. Eggs and coffee for breakfast. And no, I really do not want or need that second piece of cake. How, though, do we look at all the complexities that life often demands of us and come away with a clear decision that we can look back on and not regret? Proverbs 15:22 offers this advice: "Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed."

Consultation in this proverb is not unsolicited advice but it is advice that finds its roots in an ongoing, familiar conversation. Consultation here implies not just random fortune-cookie advice but a conversation with a trusted friend. Surrounding yourself with friends with whom you can not only talk about the latest headlines but also the deepest and most complex needs of your life. Men and women who you can trust to speak into your life honestly, openly and in your best interest.

Consultation helps you think through your decision. There is just something about talking about a decision that you have internally been analyzing. Even if the trusted confidant is unable to provide any type of advice or recommend any course of action, at least talking out the problem helps clarify the issues. They can ask questions that you have not thought of that might just help you look at the decision you have to make from a different angle or in a different light.

There will always be armchair coaches: People who know exactly what you should do, and they eagerly offer up advice that for some reason they feel you want. While their advice may be helpful, this proverb is leading you to surround yourself with people you trust and who will be honest with you. With many counselors, plans succeed.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father and serves as the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jackson.

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