Esther and Advice

This post continues a series looking at various issues raised by the book of Esther. I’d love your feedback in the comments

I’ve noticed that several commentators pick up on the fact that king Xerxes can’t seem to do anything without his advisers. He is an indecisive man, and his reliance on advisers leave him open to being manipulated. But hang on a minute. Isn’t there wisdom in seeking out advice from other people?

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Prov 15:22 (NIV)

Here’s my advice on how to take advice…

1. Choose advisers wisely. Rehoboam is the classic example of getting this wrong. Instead of listening to the wise advisers of his father, he followed his friends advice (see 1 Kings 12:8) and the kingdom spectacularly imploded. It’s not enough to take advice, we need to take it from the right people. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” (Ps 1:1) This means seeking out advice from those who are spiritually mature, who know God’s Word and who are not prone to flattery or promoting their own agendas.

2. Take responsibility for your own decisions. Just because somebody you respect gave you advice doesn’t mean you can abdicate responsibility for your own decisions. Sometimes after hearing advice we may have to graciously and firmly refuse to take it. And once we’ve made our choice, there is no place for blame shifting. “Each of us must give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12).

3. Take time. There may be rare occasions where we have to instantaneously make a decision, but most of the time it should be possible to delay a decision until we have heard the advice of others and prayed about the situation. Xerxes had the bad habit of making decisions while drunk. We are repeatedly called in the scriptures to be “sober-minded” (e.g. 1 Pet 1:13), to be those who can think clearly about a situation, using the principles of God’s Word and sensitive to the leading of his Spirit.

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