I should have been a wrestler

Published 10:30 pm Friday, January 4, 2013

My kids are just plain full of advice for me. (“Sure dad, you should totally rock that Captain America shirt. It doesn’t matter at all that it is two sizes too small.”) If it weren’t for indifferent or self-serving advice from them, I’d have none.

The most recent advice was, perhaps, more practical in nature. The other day my 4-year-old son, who embodies the true spirit of boyhood in everything he says and does, told me, out of nowhere and in between bites of his dinner, “Dad, you should have been a professional wrestler.”

The only reply I could muster was a hearty “Thanks!” I would love to be able to see the inner workings of this little boy’s mind to understand what prompted such advice. Perhaps it’s my lack of brawn, which suspiciously suggests muscles of youth past. Perhaps it’s my sometimes-exuberant personality, which easily could have exploded from behind a Nacho Libre mask.

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Have you ever received advice like that? Advice about what we should have done, regardless of how well it might have applied in the past, isn’t very helpful.

Even the best advice about what you should have done isn’t very relevant unless you’ve got a time machine in your garage. The best advice warns you of a ditch before you fall into it, rather than telling you that you should have avoided it after you are covered in mud.

This lesson applies both to those who offer advice and to those who receive it. We all have counselors. We all have trusted friends and relatives that we go to with problems, concerns, hopes, goals, and dreams. When we seek counsel it is wisest to seek the counsel of one who makes us weep rather than one who makes us laugh. The best counselor tells us the truth about ourselves and our circumstances. He is a poor counselor who flatters for the sake of a return visit from the one seeking counsel.

On the other hand, even the best counsel is useless if it falls on closed ears. It has been well said that there are none as blind as those who refuse to see; and usually the better the advice is, the harder it is to take.

The truth is that every person has a story to tell and a lesson to teach. Donald Trump may have much to teach about amassing wealth but a humble, uneducated old woman who raised five kids on a maid’s salary probably has more to teach about the value of a dollar.

Maybe I should have been a wrestler instead of a pastor. Perhaps then I could force people to take good advice. Alas, it was not to be. All of us must be humble enough to take advice, courageous enough to offer it, and along the way trust that God will give us the wisdom to know how to do so. Sweet is the fruit that comes from taking in the good lessons and observations of others.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20)