He was exactly right. The right person in that position might have saved my ministry there.
At the time, I answered something about the money not being available. While that was so, we could have juggled assignments and found the money from all the vacant positions had I been willing to go that route.
Looking back at the endless problems that followed my inauspicious beginning at that church, I wished later we had done that. Why didn’t we? Clearly, I was so stressed that I did not recognize a great suggestion when it came.
Stress will warp one’s judgment and cloud his thinking.
I rejected sound advice because I was too stressed to think clearly. My mistake.
I should have had a few good advisors whom I could run this by.
Question: How can we make sure the counsel we are getting is solid?
Here are three suggestions, not in any particular order …
1) Have a few trusted friends to whom you can go and who will tell you the truth.
Ideally, you want to bring them all together (if the issue is of sufficient weight) and let them interact with one another. Therefore, try to find a trio of wise counselors in your area. Pray the Lord to lead you to them.
2) Search the Scripture on the subject.
You are not looking for some sterile sentence to jump out at you and say “here is your answer,” but for the Holy Spirit to show you His answer through the Word. Often, it’s a verse you would have never thought of applying to this situation, but its counsel is perfect and seems to have jumped off the page at you.
I am not suggesting you tell the church, “God told me to do this.” Just do it. Not everyone, even the most spiritual, will agree that this particular verse applies to your situation. But you are not offering it to them for approval. The Lord did that just for you. Now, go ahead.
Don’t be surprised if the Spirit leads you to fast while you are praying and seeking His answer. Fasting while praying can help to clear our minds and focus our hearts.
3) Listen to your wife.
(The obligatory note of explanation to that: As we have said here repeatedly, articles on this website are primarily directed to pastors with my frame of reference, being the SBC where all preachers are male. Women pastors are welcome to use anything of value they find here, but we will appreciate their understanding of where we’re coming from. And honestly, I’m not sure the husband of a woman pastor would have the same take on these things a male pastor’s wife does.)
God knew what He was doing when He matched us up.
Margaret Henderson McKeever and her man Joe are in agreement on ten thousand things. And we see contrary on another five thousand! She doesn’t see some of my best cartoons as funny, doesn’t get the point of some of my jokes and thinks I should not wear a striped tie with a checked shirt. I read most of these articles to her before posting to see what I’ve left out, overdone or gotten wrong.
She has no hesitation in telling me. (Smiley-face goes here.)
And that’s why I read them to her. The last thing I need is a spouse who thinks I hung the moon, that I can do no wrong and that every word out of Joe’s mouth is inspired. I need someone with a different viewpoint, who feels I can do better than I usually do and who has not the slightest hesitation in calling me down when I’m out of line.
That’s why I could never have been a Catholic priest. (Well, OK, one of a thousand reasons!) I need a wife. (And have one, thank the Lord!)
So, when I need advice, I turn to the Lord, call on my counselors and listen to my wife.
And then, I still have to make the decision myself. I have no hesitation in going against the advice of mentors and spouse, deacons, and even the entire congregation if I’m certain a direction is of the Lord. I’m trying to think of such an instance, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. Even if it did, that feels like another article altogether.
God help us to be wise in knowing His will and forthright in doing it, to be humble in working with others and gracious to those who disagree with us.