Proverbs 11:14 – Help! Which Way Did They Go?

Help! Which way did they go?

Proverbs 11:14 – Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.

A cartoon comes to mind of a man wearing a hat with two bills and a confused look on his face. The caption reads, “Which way did they go?” Leadership is easy. Taking the right path or listening to clear advice is yet another thing. Everyone seems to have an opinion. What is right, or more importantly what path should a
leader take? Just because we think we know the correct course of action, does not necessarily make it the right path.

The Hebrew word for advice – “ya’ats” found in the Old Testament – seems to make clear the human need for discernment in decision-making, but even then, they were not always clear paths. Good advice came from Jethro (see Exodus 18:19) for his son-in-law, Moses, whereas Ahithopels gave horrible advice to the king’s son (2 Sam 16:20). Sometimes advisers may seem prophetic, while at other times too easy and foolish. What is a leader to do?

If we have been observant with our national political climate over the last several years, we have seen a great rise and fall of political advisers (or even the last six months). Having never been the president of the United States (POTUS), I cannot even imagine how difficult it must be to sort out the preponderance of advice they must receive on a daily basis. A leader must weigh their adviser’s words/rhetoric and ultimately listen to their own desires and plans in decision-making. As Christians, our hope is that leaders would illustrate Godly values and have
compassion on society.

Having said that, have you noticed both in our modern world as well as the Old & New Testaments, there is often a contrast between the will of God and the plans of humans? Last night, I watched an episode of the new PBS series on Viet Nam. I found it remarkable how faulty the decisions of five presidents were, in part by either the lack of, or ineffective advice they received (and sometimes no advice). Good advice is essential to good decisions.

Some of the greatest presidents in modern history came out of that era and yet, from the prospective of the future, we can see how ineffective or poorly communicated advice was in their decision-making. It is easy to second guess the past and even easier to question the present since the responsibility of POTUS is not on our shoulders. Again, I cannot possibly understand the pressure laid upon the POTUS except by the rate that their hair turns gray.

Admittedly, I have argued (through the television) with every president over the last thirty years, Democrat and Republican alike. There is not one president that I totally agreed with, and if I can be totally honest, I have questioned the lack of empathetic intelligence with their advisers. Perhaps your attitude toward past or the present president is not unlike mine.

The apostle Paul might have encouraged us to go down a different avenue, just as he told the church in Corinth: “Now I encourage you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Agree with each other and don’t be divided into rival groups. Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose.” (1 Cor 1:10)

While watching the documentary, I sensed the division between communism and democracy, US/Russia/China, North and South Viet Nam, North and South Korea. Are we reliving our past? It seems like, as I was watching history unfold, I was witnessing it play out on the present world stage all over again in the evening news broadcasts. Posturing, bantering and rhetoric seem to be
unraveling the fabric of nations all over again. I would encourage us to search for common ground and listen well, but mostly remember we really do care for those persons who may not agree with our point of view.

Does it feel like we need some prayer time? Let’s close with this old favorite, first appearing in The Spectator on March 8, 1711, by Joseph Addison:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.
Father, unto thee I pray,
Thou hast guarded me all day;
Safe I am while in thy sight,
Safely let me sleep tonight.
Bless my friends, the whole world bless;
Help me to learn helpfulness;
Keep me every in thy sight;
So to all I say good night.

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