Listening to Real Advice is Hard
There is a story in the bible about a king that would like to go off to war. He is a cocky and boastful man—already rich but wants to get richer—and he likes to be affirmed in what he already believes. He calls upon a bunch of prophets and puts the question to them of whether or not he should lead his people out to war (everyone involved knows that he wants to hear that yes, in fact, he should go to war because he is so powerful and wonderful he is going to win etc. etc.) The prophets duly say what the king wants to hear. Except for one. It is a bit funny because before he even speaks the king is saying “I hate that guy, he’s a downer, he never says what I want to hear.” Instead of listening to the one telling truth the king goes to war and it is a calamity.
I wonder how often we do this.
For instance, I used to know a financial planner who said his career was really annoying because for the most part clients had made up their minds about what to do/how to handle their money before meeting with him, if he happened to agree then he had their business and, if not, then not. It was sad he said, because most people were making foolish decisions and going with whatever “Expert” they could find that would agree with them. I don’t think it existed yet, but crypto might be an example of this, if you have already decided crypto currencies is the way to go you will find financial advisers who agree.
We can do this with our diets, vegan, fire engine 2, Mediterranean, paleo, raw, flexitarian, eats only berries and bananas…once we have made up our mind how to eat we will find experts who confirm our choice.
In the age of the internet part of the challenge is that we can find so-called experts on just about any topic and then find some that agree with us. This can make decision-making much more difficult because the easy route is to do just that. The hard route is to reflect upon what people we might disagree with are saying and give their concerns real consideration.
In the spiritual life this is true as well. I am part of a few “spiritual” groups on Facebook and the sorts of workshops and promises made in them are astounding, healing bowl sounds, fairies in the forest we can talk to, inner animals to be re-connected with, whatever your jam is there is someone in my city ready to encourage you (and take your money). I suppose it is hard to be told how to live, we are all stubborn. It is also hard to be told of a difficult route we must take. Save money slowly over time and invest carefully, eat real food and not too much, trust in the goodness of Jesus rather than you own, take care of others, humbly approach the world. These are all great if you happen to already like them, but the majority do not and the prophets and profits are out there to lead us astray by confirming what we already believe and want to be true.
What experts are you listening to and why? When is the last time you heard advice that sounded hard but you took and ran with it? How did that go?