Wise Counsel

Recently, I made a bad decision that will cost me quite a bit of money. If you know me at all, you know I hate wasting money. Before making the decision, I consulted with someone who was an expert in the field. I did my part to steer clear of trouble, or so I thought. What I forgot was a pretty basic yet profound principle.

Proverbs 11:14 says it best:

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

There is so much revelation in this one verse of scripture, but I want to focus on three words: multitude of counselors.

The mistake I made is not uncommon among young or inexperienced people venturing into a new arena. I took the advice of only one expert who benefited from my decision. This professional opinion represented only one perspective, one side of the argument and ultimately failed to take all things into consideration.

A few weeks ago I went into a store and tried on a dress. One of the sales associates was wearing the dress and started to rave about the fit, style and comfort. I tried it on and decided that it wasn’t going to work for me. When I came out of the dressing room, she was shocked that I didn’t like the dress and insisted I try on a smaller size. After trying on the smaller size, coming out of the dressing room to twirl around to her cheers and applause, I stood by my decision. Yes, I may have looked great in the dress but this sales associate didn’t know who I was. She didn’t know that I was a happily married wife, mother of an impressionable little girl, a pastor and middle school leader. My clothes are not just a personal decision (she was single and ready to mingle). I had other things to consider than just the look and feel so it was important that I have a multitude of counsel.

Let’s take buying a home as another example. When you are buying a home, it seems pretty obvious that you should hire a real estate agent. Even real estate agents often hire someone else to sell their home or help them purchase a new one. They understand there are inherent biases or emotional connections they themselves will carry. But, if you only take the advice of the real estate agent, you will miss out on wise counsel that gives you a better understanding of the broad impact of your decision. The real estate agent stands to benefit from you purchasing the home and will lend you the counsel that ultimately benefits themselves. If however, you heed the principles shared in Proverbs 11:14, here are some other people you would want to consult.

1. Your financial advisor– this person knows not only what you are looking for in a home, but also what you can afford to pay. They are able to consider your income and expenses, understand your financial goals and help you make a good financial decision. They usually don’t stand to gain or lose anything by lending you this advice (except if this purchase will significantly reduce how much you are able to invest). Your financial advisor has a different perspective than your real estate agent, but your wise counsel shouldn’t stop there.

2. Lender (if you need to borrow money)- When a lender approves you for a purchase, generally they only know the financial part of your story. Besides that, they stand to make a LOT of money over the long-term. You may feel like you are getting a good deal but they will make money off of your decision. I remember several years ago being “pre-approved for a car loan for 35 thousand dollars. Thankfully, I had done my research and knew how much I could afford to pay monthly. The car payment on that kind of loan would have been a strain on my family and have set me back from my goals of saving money and paying off debt. But back to the house example. Don’t just take the word of your real estate agent or lender, there are more things to consider.

3. Your pastor- I can hear you asking, what does your pastor have to do with purchasing a home? Let me explain. When you purchase a home, you make a long-term commitment to the property, your finances, your family and yourself. Your pastor may have insight into how this purchase will affect other areas of your life. Perhaps you only want to purchase a home to prove someone wrong. Maybe you recently went through a divorce and don’t know what the financial impact will be. Or perhaps you want to quit your job and go back to school full-time. Or maybe your children just moved out to go to college. While some of these things may not disqualify you from purchasing a home, they will impact when, where and the type of home you decide to purchase. While your pastor may not be an expert in real estate, he or she can provide valuable insight into your life. Your real estate agent, lender and financial advisor all provide counsel from various perspectives. Your pastor generally has nothing to gain or lose from your decision.

The list of “experts” to consider in this home buying process could include many more including: contractors, inspectors, relatives (if you have aging parents), education systems (if you have school-aged children), neighbors, crime reports, etc.

Ultimately, your wise counsel should come from God. Make sure to surround yourself with those who know God and can provide wisdom as needed. Don’t be prideful or ashamed to ask when you need help. Everything from our daily decisions to major moves should be thoroughly vetted. I am learning to trust God and build a circle around me to help me carry out His plans.

The Amplified version really breaks it down nicely.

Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.

Take the time to seek an abundance of wise counsel, in the end you will Win!