The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.
There are several items to consider from this verse. First, as people, we are not an island of one. We live with others and are not isolated from the rest of history. Many who have gone before us have many life experiences that teach those who come after them. Second, to listen to advice, one must first ask for it. Sadly, due to the human heart’s pride, we do not seek advice from others easily. Third, when seeking advice, we must do so from others who are wise and discerning and are firmly rooted in the Word of God. Fourth, as we seek advice, we must be willing to listen to it even if it conflicts with what we desire to do. Many people seek advice only to confirm their own desires and wants. That is not advice-seeking. Fifth, listening requires doing. More is needed to hear advice. We must be ready to act on it.
To refuse to seek advice is to be a fool. To seek advice from the wise and discerning and not heed it is to be a fool.
As a pastor, I am often in a position to give people advice. Sometimes, it is sought, and sometimes, it is offered unsolicited out of concern for those charged to my care. Sometimes, people listen. Often, they do not. I have learned many things as a pastor, and one (of many) seems clear: Many people do not want to be shepherded. They are like the fools described by Solomon. They are not interested in being corrected, advised, or rebuked. Of course, it isn’t that a pastor is infallible. Certainly not. Yet, the pastor does have the faithful operation of the Spirit of God, enabling him to function in his office as that ordained man seeking to guide the sheep. I know many people who refuse to listen. They know better. They are fools. I have lost count of the times I have advised people only to watch them refuse to listen and fall into grievous sins and circumstances. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Of course, pastors are not immune to being fools. They need advice from others who have gone before them. They must listen to those men who have faithfully pastored churches over the long haul. They should heed the direction of the wiser and more experienced among them. No, pastors will not always agree, but they should be willing to listen carefully lest they become a fool as well.