At one time or another, every one of us has been the recipient of bad counsel from a fellow Christian. It can be a tough thing to swallow advice tainted with inaccuracies, hurtful words, or false assumptions. We all know what our default response is to such counsel. We might get angry at their intrusiveness, be discouraged by their hurtful tone, or even be judgmental toward their judgmentalism. But is there a way to receive bad counsel in a such a way that is beneficial, not only for you, but also for your fellow Christian?
By ‘bad counsel,’ I am not referring to false teaching or heretical counsel which rejects Jesus Christ and his Word. This counsel must be utterly rejected. I’m referring to counsel delivered by a Christian brother or sister that might come across as judgmental, hypocritical, ‘legalistic,’ or insensitive. I understand that there is a time and place to lovingly confront such counsel, but how can we actually benefit from it? Here are four ways that you can make the most of a less-than-ideal counseling situation.
Elias Keach was a 17th century pastor’s kid - the son of the respected Baptist minister, Benjamin Keach. Benjamin Keach was known for introducing hymn singing in Baptist churches, writing a catechism, and preceding the pastoral ministry of Charles Spurgeon. But Elias didn’t adopt his parents’ religion. Forsaking their beliefs, he left London to go to the American Colonies in 1689. In this new environment, he became known as the son of the famous Benjamin Keach, which brought him great admiration and respect. Taking advantage of this, Elias would wear clergy outfits, posing as a man of God. Although he played the part well, his heart was far from God.
Back in 1978, Jim Jones brought the members of his People’s Temple to Guiana, South America and instructed them to commit suicide. 780 of them drank poison kool-aid following a false prophet. I pastor in Indiana and recognize that Jones’s roots actually travel back to my state. Jones was actually born in Indiana and started his cult there before moving it to California. Such tragedies make national headlines, but unfortunately it is unlikely that many who are following false prophets and false teachers today will be warned by the headlines.
Here’s a statement that will probably make most pastors and church members pause: Children’s ministry may be the most important ministry of your church. D.L. Moody once said, “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
Certain life experiences often deepen the richness of certain Scriptural passages.
I’m a first-time father. I’m absolutely loving it! One of the things I love the most is watching my wife care for my beautiful daughter. And if there are two qualities that encapsulate my wife’s relationship to our new baby girl, it would deep affection and personal sacrifice. Taking care of an infant is literally a one-way street. The mother gives and gives and gives with zero reciprocity from the baby (other than the frequent “deposits” she so generously presents us). The baby can literally do nothing for the mom, and yet the mom gives her time, her energy, and her body to nurture and care for her child.
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