“And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men…” (1 Kings 12:13-14).
If I’ve learned anything throughout my many years of watching youths, it’s that generally they seek advice from the wrong sources. That’s not a hard and fast rule—certainly there are exceptions. But that’s exactly what those few instances are—exceptions to the normal rule. Most of the time, young people seek advice from other young people. And this usually means they are getting advice from someone who invariably has no more experience than they do in whatever field they seek instruction. It makes no sense. And yet, it’s a pattern that has continued to repeat itself generation after generation after generation.
One of the common themes we learn from Solomon’s proverbs is the importance of listening to those with more experience than you have—specifically your parents. Solomon writes “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22). This too has exceptions, but generally it is a teaching which should be followed. And yet, most kids—even the best of them—prefer to seek advice from their peers rather than their parents. And again, these advice-giving kids have no accomplishments which remotely suggest they are worthy of offering such guidance.
There seems to be a natural inclination to believe Mom and Dad are fuddy duddies. It’s as though the previous generation just got here by blind luck. Youthful hearts—as a result of the Fall—naturally rebel against their elders, even in minor things. Somehow Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and surely church leaders just don’t know how to keep up with the times. The people that really have it going on are those who have accomplished little to nothing in life and, as a result, have nothing to show for it. Those are the ones we are told we need to follow—and even promote to positions of leadership. That makes about as much sense as believing you can perform an appendectomy after watching a YouTube video.
In the postmodern world of the West, the media helps drives this thought. It is a foundational belief of most media outlets that the past way was wrong, and we have a new way of enlightenment today. News channels employ the youngest and brightest and most attractive. And these good-looking youths in media are easy to follow because they took speech class—and perform well in front of a camera or behind a microphone. But listen—a strong public-speaking voice doesn’t equate to good, Biblical counsel. Some of the most corrupt individuals throughout history were good public speakers and performed well in front of a crowd—that’s how they got to where they were.
Solomon had warned his children to listen to those with experience—specifically Mom and Dad. And yet in the above text, his son Rehoboam, chose to listen to the young men, rather than the more experienced “old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive” (1 Kings 12:6). As a result, the nation of Israel was divided, and the kingdom was torn away from the dynasty of David. And, it has remained that way for centuries. These young men had no experience in leadership whatsoever. Nevertheless, there’s something attractive about the advice of a bold, outspoken, zealous youth—certainly over the drab advice of the elders. And though this defies all logic, the same choice is made billions of times around the globe every single day.
Young person, seek the advice of those who have helped to plow the way before you. Your peers simply haven’t done the work. They haven’t sweat and labored nearly enough to regard their advice as superior to those who have spent decades working their way through life—and have many accomplishments to show as a result. I realize that the young leader has wild ideas coupled with great enthusiasm. I know his promises are grand—and he probably even believes them himself. He may even mean well. But Biblically, you need to seek advice from those who have gone before you—not those who started their journey when you did. Seek out godly Christian leaders who have put in time and effort and have done much for the Lord for many years. Follow their example. Match their endurance. It’s difficult to keep a young fire ignited. Many young church members will ultimately walk away from leadership. Seek Biblical counsel from one that has endured—one whom God has used for many years past. This is the doctrine of the Bible.
Todd Bryant is the Lead Elder at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Northport, AL. He has pastored there since 1998. For more more information on the church and links to audio sermons and apps for electronic devices, visit www.sovereigngrace.net