In modern Australian culture, the pursuit of personal happiness and satisfaction has become one of the most highly valued aspects of life. An important component of this pursuit is that nobody other than you can tell you what you should do. Only you know what is right for you: “if it makes you happy, no one else’s opinion should matter”. To suggest that another person has done something ‘wrong’ is greatly offensive. We live in a ‘community’ where each person goes their own separate way.
In contrast, a key theme in the book of Proverbs is that wise people will listen to and learn from instruction, advice and discipline (for example Prov 13:1, 13:18, 15:10, 15:31-32, 16:20). In the book of Proverbs, listening to wise teaching and correction from others leads to wisdom, success and life, whereas ignoring wise advice leads to failure, shame and death. Our own personal happiness and opinions should not be driving our actions. Rather, we are to listen to and live out biblical teaching.
In January this year I commenced a new job as a neuropsychology registrar. As a part of my registrar training I am required to have a supervisor. It has been challenging at times to receive one-on-one training and instruction from a senior colleague, and hear feedback about my performances. At times I am tempted to think that I am a capable person who does not need this level of instruction; I can even find myself feeling frustrated when I receive corrective feedback. But I know that this training is a God-given opportunity to hone my skills so that I can serve God in this marketplace to the best of my ability. Proverbs reminds me to remain humble and submit myself to instruction from others who are wiser than me. “Advice” is not a dirty word, it is a pathway to wisdom!
This year at GWAC we are exploring Authentic Community. Living together as God’s people goes beyond just celebrating together, it includes honest accountability. As we seek to live in this counter-cultural community with one another, Proverbs encourages us to graciously give and receive biblical correction and advice.