Proverbs 11: 14-15
14For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
In the individualistic society we live in, it is not only easy but natural to fall into solitary decision-making. It’s so common to feel like we have community because we have multitudes of good acquaintances—people we say hi to in passing, co-workers we have long small-talk chats with, and followers that we respond to on social media. However, the absence of depth breeds the absence of advisors.
This verse in Proverbs clearly describes the consequences of a lack of advisors. Leaders without advisors trust in their own perspectives and world views and, without the input of others, can make decisions that destroy their realm of influence. This means moms can make over-bearing or too-loose restrictions on children. A teenage girl can enter into a damaging relationship where no accountability keeps an eye on her behavior, and her friends follow suit. The pastor of a church can begin to make decisions that cease to meet the needs of the congregation at large. Even making personal life decisions without the influence and wisdom of God-seeking friends can send a life into a downward spiral that is not easily recovered. Examine your community; if you were to make a decision today that dishonors God, is there anyone in your life who would notice?
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
Just as a leader needs trusted advisors, he should also keep watch over who he takes responsibility for. Everyone needs the love and guidance of Jesus, but as shepherds over a flock, a leader must keep watch for wolves disguised as sheep. There will be some who enter your realm of influence to destroy the good happening there; be filled with love as you lead, but keep your eyes open to the plot of the enemy.
13Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, but those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod.
The most vivid modern-life scenario I can think of this verse is high school. Thinking back, I can remember some teenagers who had maturity. They asked questions in class, read outside of school work, or did community service of their own volition. They were students whose worlds did not focus on their own personal advancement; they had a better understanding of the world around them and usually sought out more insight than they already had.
Then there were other teenagers who couldn’t care less about wisdom if they tried. They did just enough school work to get by or never listened to the perspectives of others, and they certainly didn’t make the wisest of choices.
Students who possessed understanding were the ones whose words counted. Maybe they said little in class, but when they did make a comment, everyone’s ears perked up and heard what was said. People who lived in foolishness at some point suffered consequences of their lack of wisdom. They submitted themselves to the equivalent of a beating by a rod—embarrassment and pain.
14 Wise people treasure knowledge but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.
I expected this dynamic of the wise and foolish dwelling together to disappear into adulthood. Surely with age, everyone would become understanding of each other. This is not the case, however. With every new arena of life comes a fresh crop of people who love wisdom mixed in with those who do not dare seek understanding. Proverbs nudges us again and again to treasure, value, crave knowledge and understanding in order to be truly wise. If we do not, our words will be considered those of a babbling fool.