When Is It Okay To Go Against Wise Counsel?

Wise people seek wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15, 19:20). They don’t make decisions in the dark but instead invite those who are spiritually mature to weigh in on those decisions. They allow godly people who love them to share their honest opinions, and they seriously and thoughtfully consider these opinions.

But as valuable as human advisors are, they are still human. They’re fallible. They have biases. They have blindspots. They’re not omniscient. There may be times when it seems God is leading us to do something that our trusted advisors might counsel us not to do. What are we to do? Is it best to always assume that they know better than we do?

When Abram left his home in response to God’s call and wasn’t sure of exactly where he was going to end up or when he was going to get there, people likely questioned the wisdom of this decision. They probably thought he needed to come up with a better plan, to have things “figured out” a bit more, to wait on something more concrete than a “subjective call.”

When puny little David flung himself to the frontlines of war to attempt to take down a massive, deadly warrior, the mature had to have thought him foolish. Maybe they admired his zeal for the Lord, but surely they thought his ambition was out of proportion with reality.

When Paul was headed back toward Jerusalem, a city full of Jews who thirsted for his blood, a prophet warned him that he would be bound and imprisoned. Paul’s friends (including Luke!) begged him not to go. Surely they thought there was a better course to take — a course that wouldn’t endanger Paul, limit his ministry, or perhaps even put an end to his ministry. Yet Paul replies, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Abram, David, and Paul did what you and I will likely have to do at some point in our lives: act against the counsel of those we love and respect. When that day comes, we shouldn’t do it in a spirit of rebelliousness or spiritual arrogance (i.e. “I hear from God more clearly than my counselors do!”) We should do it because, after weighing counsel and considering the risks and potential pitfalls, our consciences are irrevocably bound to a conviction that this thing, this decision, this direction, is of God. We will have no choice but to take hold of the plow the Lord is setting before us and give ourselves to the work to which we believe He’s called us.

And hey, maybe we’ll discover later on that we were wrong. But even so, I don’t think fear of potentially being wrong should stop us from pursuing what we presently believe is God’s will. Why? Because God works all things for the good of those who love him and who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8: 28)! If God turns even our sins on their head and causes them to serve our ultimate good, how much more the possible missteps we take in thoughtful faith? Obviously Romans 8:28 isn’t a license to live recklessly in the name of “trusting Jesus.” But if we’ve pursued God’s will thoughtfully, having weighed counsel and considered the risks, and are still persuaded that God has called us to this thing, I believe we should move forward with confidence — not in our ability to discern God’s will 100% correctly — but in the God who orchestrates the future and promises to make it all work for our good.