When a word from Scripture is spoken by a counselor at that particular moment when the parishioner is able to hear it, it can indeed shatter huge walls of fear and open up unexpected perspectives. – The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen
We all counsel. Someone asks for advice and we provide it. It makes us feel good to think that someone thinks enough of us to value what we might have to say.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22 ESV)
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. (Proverbs 27:9 ESV)
The Bible even encourages us to seek counsel from others. How could the discipline of silence make my counsel better? Sometimes the question we’re being asked relates to something we have extensive experience with. A few words from our experience could be very helpful. What about the situation where both we and the person seeking our advice are in over our heads. My tendency in that situation is to speak more and not less.
I want to help. I want to fix the problem. I can’t fix it. Only the other person cooperating with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will make things better. Is there a word from God that will speak into their situation? The challenge here is to be silent and listen. It is too easy to pull out our favorite memory verse and use it as the all-purpose fixer. For some reason Romans 8:28 comes to mind. I must not be afraid of silence.
I have a couple of men that I meet with on a regular basis. I’m slowly learning through those relationships to listen better. Often, the greatest insights and specific actions come not from my advice, but from being willing to sit in silence and give the Holy Spirit room to work. Just as amazing is when the passage of scripture we’re looking at speaks directly to their situation. It wasn’t chosen with any knowledge of their situation.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
We keep coming back to the need for less of our words and more of God’s Word.