“Think of ways to encourage on another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back is drawing near (Hebrews 1o:24,25).”
I don’t know what prompted me to do it: seek advice that is. I am a typical male. I hate to stop and ask for directions.
It could have been the Corp of Cadets at the university in my town. With school back in session, the campus is full of these young men and women.
The other day I passed some of them at an exercise station, the kind with balance beams and wooden bars. As I walked by these students, about 10 of them were in a circle. They had their arms around each other and were yelling some kind of chant, moving their bodies up and down in unison.
I got the point of the cheer. It was designed to develop and show their comaraderie and unity.
I chose to see some counsel because of a family matter that couldn’t get resolved. It concerned a path one of my kids wanted to take.
So about three days ago I got the idea to send some Emails around to some men I trust. One was a mentor of mine. Another was a high school principal. The other Emails went to my pastor and an elder at my church in charge of the high school group my child is a part of.
Within a couple of hours these fellows had all responded. What impressed me also was the consistency of their advice. Although their suggestions differed somewhat, their comments were more like shades of the same color.
Their counsel tended to agree with my wife’s view of things, even though I had not brought her ideas up specifically in my request for advice. While I agreed with my spouse generally, these men gave me some specifics that helped sway my view toward hers.
As we met with child and discussed the pertinent issue, I spoke out the written suggestions of my counselors. With input from my wife and kid, I made a decision.
All seem settled, that is until I heard my wife and child heatedly discussing the issue again in another room a few minute after our discussion. So much for my effective leadership!
I was quite flustered and basically just delegated the whole thing to my wife to solve. (Men: I wouldn’t recommend this as a conflict resolution strategy.)
During the last three days since there has been an edge of contention in my household. The argument finally came to a head this morning as I was trying to sleep in. (It’s Saturday.)
Again my wife and child were having a loud discussion. Forget trying to sleep.
I came upstairs and got involved in the battle. I wasn’t much help. Indeed, in my pre-coffee state I just added fuel to the fire.
Finally, some thing occurred to me. It became clear as day that my wife’s spirit was just flat out against the whole approach I was taking. Even though I was trying to be conciliatory and my wife was willing to compromise, it was clear that no matter how I framed the issue, she was not comfortable with how things were going.
It was after comprehending how she was feeling, I made a decision that from my perspective was completely in line with with what was in her heart. What was interesting to me was how, within the next hour or so, I had this complete sense of peace about me. In addition, my wife had the same spirit.
We were both in unity. We both were positive we were making the right decision regarding our child.
None of this would have happened if I had not chosen to ask advice from some other guys. Their thoughts acted as a catalyst to bring my thinking around to that of my wife. It took three days, but at least I finally was open minded and made the decision that seemed to be the best one.
The wise man of Proverbs tells us that healthy counsel is very valuable:
Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry. Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer. They revive the spirit of their employer. (Proverbs 25:11-13).
This same wise man writes that involving my wife in the decision making was a smart thing to do to:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11)
This sage closes this thought by reiterating how effective it is in a conflict to not be a loner.
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
My adult son and I have been watching the Little League World Series. I am intrigued by how, whenever there is a home run, the entire team of the boy who hit it greets him at home place and enthusiastically celebrates.
To me. the peace my wife and I gained, a rlesult of a decision borne from our teamwork, was to me a home run. And it was a sign to me that our success was a sign of God’s pleasure.
He was at home plate jumping up and down with us. If those counselor friends of mine had been here, they would have been patting us on the back, too.
It’s this kind of fellowship I ought to be engaging in every day. In addition, in the times we live in, and with the difficult contests of life sure to be ahead, it’s essential to be a part of a community of saints like this.