I can’t say I’ve always paid attention to advice others have given me. In fact, I’ve probably not paid attention more often than I’ve heeded advice from others. I can tell you, though, of times when I’m glad I listened, including previous thoughts I wrote a few years ago and the list below:
- “Pay attention to the books you read, the friends you keep, the Lord you serve, and the music you listen to.” My pastoral mentor actually learned most of these words from his mother, as I recall—but I’ve never forgotten the first time I heard him say the words. It was particularly the last phrase—“the music you listen to”—that pushed me to evaluate.
- “I’m not sure that’s the best ministry move for you.” I was sure it was, but someone I trusted was sure it wasn’t. He knew the situation much better than I, and his advice proved right in the long run. I’m glad I heard him.
- “Don’t let your emotions get ahead of your brain.” I can be zealous, impulsive, and impatient all at the same time—a dangerous combination. I’ve often remembered these words from a deacon who loved me enough to be honest with me.
- “You’ll regret it later on if you don’t go to seminary.” No believer influencing my life at the time had gone to seminary, so I saw no need to make that commitment. Now in my 25th year as a seminary professor, I thank God I listened back then.
- “I want you to do whatever it takes to go with me on this mission trip.” I had traveled overseas, but not on a trip to share the gospel and make disciples where the gospel had no hold. My world has never been the same since I followed my colleague’s advice.
- “Speak and write to communicate clearly, not to impress people.” I thought I had to ‘wow’ listeners and readers, but my pastor/professor friend challenged my thinking (and my ego). He reminded me that we who communicate accomplish nothing if others don’t understand us. I can only hope I’ve heeded his advice over the years.
- “You need to lose some weight.” That’s a loose paraphrase of what an older minister told me (actually, he said, “Man, you’re getting chunky!”), just before he challenged me to take better care of myself. I’m glad he did.
- “Don’t give up—just keep praying.” I needed that advice when I grew weary of praying for decades for my parents to become believers. God graciously saved them both, but I still remind myself of that advice as I pray for others.
What words of advice have proven most helpful to you?