Several people in my life hold me accountable to God’s truths. These are a variety of people—some are family members and some are friends, some are similar in age to me and some are older. Helping me manage my time, pushing me to reach my potential, calling me out when I appear to be straying spiritually, and praying with me and for me are just a few of the ways that some of the closest people in my life help to keep me accountable.
Such a process isn’t always comfortable or easy for me or them. However, these people are invaluable to me. And I hope I am the same for them. I can’t stress enough how critical it is that you surround yourself with people who will keep you accountable.
Here, the quantity of people is not as important as the quality. This role cannot simply be filled by close friends or peers doing what they normally do.
I am talking about the kind of accountability that isn’t satisfied with yes or no answers—accountability that goes beyond “I’m doing fine” answers, accountability that will look you eyeball to eyeball and ask you the tough questions about your life. Such counsel may not be easy to find. But I am confident that if you search for it, you will find it.
No matter the season of life, every person needs godly counsel from someone. Do you have this person in your life today? If not, begin praying for God to lead you to this person. As you do, keep these four truths in mind:
1. Not all counsel is godly.
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
- Proverbs 30:5-6 (NIV)
Sometimes, even those with the best of intentions can mislead you by misquoting or mistaking what the Bible says. I have learned that there will almost always be a peer, professor, or co-worker who claims allegiance to God but offers counsel contrary to that claim. As you receive counsel from others, always use Scripture as the gauge by which you test such counsel to determine whether it is of God or humans. Simply put, if a person’s suggestions, recommendations, or condemnations aren’t in sync with God’s, then such counsel is wrong, no matter how popular, culturally relevant, or accepted the person.
2. Not all counsel needs receiving.
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.
- Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)
You can’t always control the counsel you hear, but you can control the counsel you choose to take in and act upon. Pray that God will guard your heart from hearing, receiving, and retaining ungodly counsel.
3. Some counsel will require humility.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
- Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
The older I get, the more I seem to meet people who have more life experience, more wisdom, and more discernment than I. And though their counsel has often left me humbled, it has also brought to my attention areas of my life that need addressing while equally pushing me to be a better person.
4. Godly counsel is second to God’s counsel.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into your glory.
- Psalm 73:24 (NIV)
The writer of this Psalm understood that no counsel was more real and relevant for him than God’s. Likewise, God desires a real relationship with you. Godly counsel from another Christ-follower is so important. However, such counsel can never supercede your commitment to daily time with God. His counsel will guide you and grow you in ways far beyond the wisdom of any other.
Jeffrey Dean Smith is a husband, father to Bailey & Brynnan, author, and the Senior Pastor at Donelson First in Nashville, TN. If you are in Music City, meet Jeffrey and enjoy iced tea on the front lawn each Sunday at 10:30a.