“Well in my opinion …” We’ve all heard those words many times before. We all know opinionated people, be it in our family, friendship or work settings. We all know people who are more than ready to offer their opinion on anything and everything – from politics to parenting – from their way of doing things to how we could shed some weight or improve some aspect of our life.
A wise old boss of mine used to say: “There will always be those ready to give you their opinion, but don’t chase opinion, seek wise counsel and good advice.” Brian Houston says: “Opinionated is like marinated. We are soaking in it.”
Yes, we are!
We live in a world of opinion overload. Much of our media has moved from news reporting to opinion sharing; much of it done in an arrogant, insulting tone that is intentionally aimed at creating community divides.
And all too often in our personal lives we can be negatively swayed by opinionated voices, someone we have become too prone to listen to, someone always willing to offer us their opinion, but with no regard for its impact on us.
I’m sure within the next 24 hours, after reading this post, be it in the staff room, the lounge room, the gym, the bus stop or school pick up you will engage with someone who will offer you their personal opinion on matters that they ultimately know little about. There is 100% guarantee of this happening on our social media feeds.
Mike Barnicle writes: “We live in a culture where everyone’s opinion, view and assessment of situations and people spill across social media, a lot of it anonymously, much of it shaped by mindless meanness and ignorance.”
Yes, in a world where we are bombarded with information; where we are saturated by media options, where we spend much time on social media and where many people are so quick to offer their opinion we need to be very careful about the voices we are listening to.
There will always be people ready to offer us their opinion. But wise people the Scriptures remind us are not quick to listen to the opinionated, but rather they seek out wise counsel, good, sound, helpful and trusted advice from people of integrity.
In Proverbs 12:15 we read: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who listens to counsel is wise.” And in Proverbs 19:20: “Hear counsel and receive instruction that you may be wise.”
I’ve learnt that these wise words make such a difference in life. I know the mess I can get myself in when I try and please others too readily, act irrationally or listen to the opinions of others whose motives are poor or who want a quick fix or an easy win. In contrast, I am so thankful for the difference wise counsel brings to life – good advice from trusted people.
I was chatting with a colleague a few weeks back and they were sharing about how they had intentionally needed to make the tough choice to limit contact with a life-long close friend.
“He is in a very negative space and he was constantly speaking negativity and discouragement into my life. He was always criticising, always telling me what was wrong with other friends … always quick to offer his opinion … always quick to highlight deficits in my life … he was sucking life out of me.
There it is. Hear that sentence again: “He was sucking life out of me.”
I’ve learnt that wise counsel and good advice do just the opposite – they speak life into me, they strengthen me, they encourage me, they fuel the soul, they make me a better person.
And yes, even when such counsel may be challenging or difficult to hear, if I know it is coming from someone I trust and respect, someone I have invited to speak into my life because of their example and integrity, then I know the motive behind challenge or correction is always for my good. Their wise words are about building me up, never pulling me down; they are always seeking to expand my capacity, not box or limit me in my potential.
Here are three simple, but ultimately life-transforming questions to ponder this week:
Who is speaking most into my life? [People and platforms]
Who should I be listening to less?
Who should I be listening to more?
Yes, they are simple questions, but what a big difference the answers make in our everyday world, where the voices we listen to have such a big impact on our sense of worth, beliefs, attitudes, priorities and relationships.
I’ve found listening to less voices rather than more is vital.
I’ve learnt people who authentically reflect the character of Jesus to me are certainly worth listening to.
I’ve learnt I need to actively seek out wise counsel from trusted people who want to see me grow.
Ultimately, I’ve learnt that I need to listen to what my “Abba Father” says about me as a love and valued child of his.