Asking People for Advice: Yes or No?

Joyce Meyer has a saying, “Don’t run to the phone; go to the throne.”  She was speaking mainly to women about this because when we women have problems we usually talk to our family and friends about it. We want their sympathy and advice. Joyce says to go to God first, and not only that but to perhaps not to share those problems with other people. God is enough and will comfort and guide us.

To me, this seemed like good advice and I’ve been trying to do this. I have found out that God indeed does comfort and guide. He puts Bible verses in my mind about the problem I have. I feel heard and understood by him in a wonderful way. And I’m glad not to share my gloom and doom attitude with my family since it usually makes them feel sad or mad. It can be hard dealing with a family member who is naturally fearful.

But there are other voices that say we should have spiritual mentors and go to them with our plans and problems. I listened to a podcast of someone who said she thought she had a great plan for this year, but every mentor/spiritual advisor told her not to do it.

When Joyce was called by God to be a preacher, no one thought she should do it either. Her church kicked her out and her family didn’t believe God called her. Only her husband supported her after talking with God about it. At the time there were no women preachers, or very few; most churches would not allow it. But I believe God did call her and she has helped millions of people through preaching, writing and charity.

I was talking with God about this, feeling confused on what is right about the subject. He asked me to think on what Jesus did. Well, Jesus didn’t ask other people for their advice on where to go or what to do. He took his marching orders from his father. He is our perfect example of what we should do.

Then I thought of Paul, who was converted on the road to Damascus. This is what he says in Galatians 1:15,16

“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not rush to consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to the apostles who came before me, but I went into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Only after three years did I go up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas, and I stayed with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.”

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says this:

“Having once obtained a firm inward apprehension of Christ as the Messiah and Saviour, the Apostle then comes forward to preach Him among the heathen. But that firm inward apprehension was not to be attained all at once, and it was in seeking this that “the Spirit drove him” into the wilderness of Arabia. First comes the instantaneous flash of the idea upon his soul (“to reveal his Son in me”); then the prolonged conflict and meditation, in which it gets thoroughly consolidated, and adjusted, and worked into his being (during the retirement into Arabia); lastly, the public appearance as a preacher to the heathen upon the return to Damascus.”

So Paul did not seek men’s advice or teaching, which is interesting. Most preachers go to seminary to learn how and what to preach.

When Paul was preaching in Berea, the Bible says, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  Acts 17:11

Now Jesus was a spiritual advisor to the disciples. There is that to consider. He called them, he taught them and he trained them. Paul advised Timothy and other Christian leaders. Elijah took Elisha under his wing.

I think I have come to the conclusion that before we listen to any person, we should study the Bible deeply and we should spend much time in prayer. There are false teachers and false prophets. I believe God will let us know as we study and pray whether what someone is preaching is right or wrong. And if you are called by God to go somewhere or do something, keep praying until you are sure, and then do it.

One thing too about humans. Even if they are right about many things, they can be off the mark in some things. Preachers disagree with each other. They interpret the Bible differently. And not because they don’t love God or study, it is just another way Humans are not perfect.

George Whitefield and John Wesley disagreed about Calvinistic points, but Whitefield, to the very last, was determined to forget minor differences and to regard Wesley as Calvin did Martin Luther, “only as a good servant of Jesus Christ.” He asked Wesley to preach his funeral sermon.

“On another occasion a censorious professor of religion asked Whitefield whether he thought they would see John Wesley in heaven. “No sir,” was the striking answer; “I fear not, for he will be so near the throne, and we shall be at such a distance, that we shall hardly get a sight of him.” 

The Collected Sermons of George Whitefield.

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