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Acting on Bad Advice

Back in 2016, Jimmy Fallon asked viewers to tweet examples of bad advice they had received. Here are just a few I pulled from the hashtag #badvice.

Here are two things I’ve learned in my nearly 50 years of living:

  • Not all advice is equal. Being entitled to your opinion doesn’t make it right.
  • Getting older is automatic; wisdom is not.

As we continue our series on Old Testament characters, today’s story is about a King who acted on bad advice. The end result was not only disastrous for him on a personal level but also led to the Israelite nation being divided into two kingdoms. His name is Rehoboam and he is the son of Solomon, the grandson of David. He would reign for only 17 years.

Our story is found in 1 Kings 12:1-20. It’s at the beginning of his reign and Rehoboam is asked to compromise on the use of forced labor (Solomon had forced his own people to work for free). When faced with this offer, Rehoboam does a few things right.

First, he doesn’t make an immediate or impulsive decision. Instead, he seeks out advice. His mistake isn’t found in seeking advice – it’s a matter of which advice he will follow.

In fact, it’s not wrong to seek advice. It’s always wrong to follow wrong advice.

Rehoboam was 41 when he took over. Solomon had reigned for 40 yrs. He had the opportunity to learn from his father and his father’s mistakes. So, the first the people he approaches are the men (the elders) who had assisted his father.

The elders are the seasoned, spiritual leaders who had worked with Solomon and learned from him. They had seen him lead well … and not so well. They had experience leading a nation and understood the backstory.

But then Rehoboam does something I see often when I do pastoral counseling: he goes advice shopping. That’s when you keep going from one counselor to the next until you find one that agrees with you.

Rather than listen to the advice of the elders, Rehoboam went to his friends – the people he had grown up with and who had the same life experience as he did. They told him to drop the hammer and to not back down.

Unfortunately, Rehoboam listened to the wrong advisors and it led to internal strife and eventually the splitting of the kingdom.

What do we learn from this story?

It is hard to rise above the level of your friends.

The truth is, we become like those people that we surround ourselves with. If you surround yourself with negative thinking people, you will find yourself becoming more negative. If you want to be more Christ-like, then surround yourself with people who are trying to follow Jesus.

It’s one reason the Bible consistently talks about need for good relationships. It’s also why we emphasize being in a small group of Christ-followers. The need for good relationships is at the heart of our Stephen Ministry

Seek out people who are where you want to be in life and faith.

The business world calls this mentoring. The Bible calls it discipling.

If you want to stay married and work through difficult seasons, seek out a couple that has been married for 40 years and not 40 days. Ask the more mature couple how they handled hard decisions.

If you want to raise good kids, talk to parents whose kids you admire.

If you lack wisdom, ask God.

While Rehoboam does well by not making a snap decision and by seeking out advice, it appears he failed to do the most important thing: ask God. Here’s the promise God makes to you …

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5).

Whether it’s picking a college or who to marry or a new job … God wants you to make a good decision. It is not in the character of God to want you to make a bad decision.

But here’s the thing: God will help you make a good decision, but he won’t make you make a good decision.

The unfortunate part of this story is that I don’t believe Rehoboam had to make this bad decision. God provided him with wise counsel through the elders. Then he left it up to Rehoboam to choose.

My prayer for you is that you will surround yourself with good people and seek the wisdom of God.

Experience and Background

  • Professor at Warner University
  • masters in business administration (mba)
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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