Who’s Whispering in Your Ear?

Forest Gump’s mother had it right. Stupid is as stupid does. But sometimes we act stupidly because we listen to stupid advice.

A team of professionals surrounded the single father.

Everyone sat in his living room trying to understand why he continued to make unfortunate decisions for his son despite their best counsel.

Finally, I asked, “Is there someone else you turn to for parenting advice? Someone who isn’t in the room? Someone suggesting alternatives solutions?”

“Well,” he hesitated, “it isn’t a support group per se . . .” He glanced out the window.

Then, it dawned on me, “Is it the guys at the corner bar?”

He threw up his hands. “Okay, yeah. We help each other, you know. Those guys make a lot of sense sometimes!” He looked at our frustrated faced. “But now, I can see that perchance, the counsel they have to offer is ill-advised.”

Months later, I sat in another living room with a woman from a local church. A single mom with cognitive challenges, she explained how she managed her life with help from a team of friends and family.

“My dad tells me what to do with my bills and my money. If anyone tries to sell me anything, I have to talk to him first. My cousin Jeannie knows how to get the boys to do their homework and what to tell them when they ask me hard questions. She also knows the school calendar so they can’t trick me again into thinking it’s a day off when it isn’t. The old lady next door checks my refrigerator and tells me what food is too old to eat and which medicine to take when we’re sick. My Aunt Fern is ‘the enforcer.’”

“Enforcer?” I asked.

She looked sheepish. “Sometimes I’m not good at knowing if people are bad or good. Aunt Fern is the one I call when I think I got it wrong.”

There are many who think this mom isn’t very bright but she’s smart enough to surround herself with good advisers. One morning I arrived to learn that Aunt Fern had been around to practice her skills. The boys greeted me saying, “Our neighbor’s boyfriend got drunk and banged on our door last night. Mom let him sleep in our living room but then he wouldn’t leave. It’s okay now though ‘cuz she called Aunt Fern. That guy won’t be back.”

Ahhh, the enforcer. Got it.

During a local campaign debate last night, I heard a candidate say something smart. When asked why the voters should trust him, he replied, “I don’t have all the answers but I surround myself with intelligent people with records for integrity. Everyone in elected office has advisers and they rely on them. When you consider a political candidate, look at the people on his team. We’re only as good as the people whispering in our ears.

The ancient kings of Israel often rose

“In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” 2 Kings 12:1-2

or fell

“Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his undoing.” 2 Chronicles 22: 2-4

according to the counsel of their advisers.

Who whispers in your ear? To whom do you go for counsel? Where do you get your advice? Have you surrounded yourself with wise friends? What is their frame of reference when offering you counsel?

It matters.

You can be surrounded by the smartest fools and run an easy road to ruin or listen to only the simple truth and walk the narrow way. It’s harder and the whispers aren’t nearly as flattering but when the chronicles of your life are written, you want to be on the right side of history.

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  1. Another good one. Pricking up my ears and tuning them toward heaven. 🙂

  2. mary oksman says:

    This truly resonated with me. I have always encouraged my son with cognitive challenges to talk with me before he makes any decisions. This has saved us both a great deal of pain. I know this blog will not only help others with similar challenges but also those of us who often listen to other’s instead of first seeking God’s counsel. It was wonderful meeting you at the retreat, continued success.