Have you ever wanted to prove how wise you were and ended up making a decision that was unwise? I have. I have wanted to protect myself, at least I thought that is how it would play out. I wanted to protect my pride.
Here is a recent example. As my career is shifting and I am focusing more on writing and speaking, and more on ministry I have had to review several contracts from people I am looking to help me with services outside of my wheelhouse. These contracts have been for services to help launch my writing, to get my books and my message out, to market my books and my speaking and to coach me.
I have taken these contracts at face value, believing in the words written in black and white and the people delivering them. Of course, not everything pans out as we believe it will or the way we intend. However, God brought to my attention a flaw in my thinking that needs to be adjusted. And I wonder, am I the only one who struggles with this sense of needing to protect my pride so much I become unwise.
The flaw in my thinking is that I keep the contract to myself, because if it goes wrong, only I know about it. “Because I am in charge” I will make the decision about what I think is best, and therefore I do not vet the contract with others who may challenge me. I happen to have a person living in my home, perhaps this person is my husband, who possesses a strength in playing the devil’s advocate. He challenges me. When it comes to these contracts, I don’t want to be challenged, I don’t want to have to build my case for why I should sign on the dotted line, I don’t even ask his opinion. I become unwise.
My unwillingness to ask for his opinion should be a great sign that I should not move forward without some serious questions, some “proof” or some adjustment to the financial implications. I can’t take the contract at face value, but I want to, and my pride wants to be right.
Here is the underlying thought process I go through – as crazy as it sounds:
“If I let ________________ (fill in the blank) give me advice on this, then:
- I will be challenged to think differently, and will be asked to build a case.
- I won’t get my way. Sometimes, I just want it to be easy.
- I may choose to move forward in spite of the advice and end up regretting the decision.If I make the decision and it doesn’t go well, and no one was consulted, then no one knows I made a wrong choice.
- I don’t trust their advice because I don’t trust their motivation. Do they have my best interest in mind?
- I won’t be able to stick to my “right now” timeline. I will have to slow down and think through the opportunity more in depth.
These are all fears. Fear that if I let someone challenge me then my picture of how the situation will pan out has to be adjusted. My picture, or even my dream of how every detail will fall beautifully into place will have to be surrendered. If I step outside of my comfort zone and let someone else have a say in how I move forward, then I will be accountable to the outcome, and it may be an outcome that isn’t what I thought or wanted.
Instead of owning up to these fears, what I have been doing is living through these contracts and decisions in isolation. Believing “well if they fail, I am the only one who will know.” And of course that allows for my pride to remain intact and unscathed.
BUT NOW…I am challenged by the scripture.
Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of the fool seems right in his own eyes, but the wise man listens to advice.”
Wow. Ouch. I have been acting as a fool when I have chosen to make decisions in isolation. And so of course I am now jaded about contracts, and things not panning out the way they are portrayed in contracts because I did not listen to the advice of anyone – wise or unwise.
Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
To this point I have been hesitant to let the contract leave my fingers and be seen by even one set of wise eyes, but to think about letting an “abundance of counselors” look it over is a whole new level of discomfort for my little pride I so want to keep protected.
I admit, asking others for help – no matter what it is – feels weak. I want to be confident in my own ability to make sound decisions. Yet my confidence is rooted in my own ability, instead of being rooted in the wisdom of God, found in the counsel of other followers of God. My confidence has been misplaced.
Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
Perhaps the work of my hands is lagging in blessing because my confidence has been placed in my own ability to make wise decisions instead of trusting God, through sound counsel, to lead me to an even better place that I could have ever hoped or dreamed of.
We can trust and put our confidence in God because he has our best interest in mind. His plan and his path may not be the timing or the route we would have chosen, but it will be the one with greater impact, greater wisdom and ultimately greater depth of relationship with him.
So Hope Seeker, I ask you, where is your heart on this topic? Are you living in fear of how things will pan out? Have those fears kept you from seeking wise counsel? Are you leaning on your own wisdom, and placing confidence in your own ability and understanding? Or are you looking to others for wisdom, guidance and looking for those to challenge you to make the best choice, not the easy choice?
These are not cozy, warm and fuzzy topics to consider. The topics of pride and fear make most of us wriggle in our seats with discomfort, probably because they hit a little too close to home, and it is hard to admit to ourselves that we are prideful and live in fear.
My prayer for your today is that you would start by simply asking God to show you where in your life you are prideful. I pray that you ask him where you are living and reacting out of fear. I pray you ask God to show you what areas of your life you have not asked for counsel but need to because you have been trusting yourself to “have all the answers”.
See wise counsel. Face the fear, and the pride and live more fully in the loving arms of Jesus.