“It is better to ask the way ten times than to take the wrong road once” (Jewish Proverb).
MOST OF US SUFFER FROM A LACK OF GOOD GUIDANCE. Like the pioneers of yesteryear who migrated to California in covered wagons, we are passing through unfamiliar (and often dangerous) “territory” these days, and without guidance, we are apt to get lost. Frequently, we’re like the fool who says, “I don’t need to consult a guide. I can figure this out myself.” And so we err, often needlessly.
When we do seek guidance, however, we tend to make two mistakes. First, we consult only our peers, those who are close to our own age and socio-economic bracket. These people may sometimes give good guidance, but because they are our peers, they probably don’t know much more about life than we do. To get better guidance, we need to find someone older, or at least someone who looks at life from a different angle than we do. But second, the only people we ask for guidance are those who are likely to tell us what we want to hear. We may say we’re seeking wise people, but who are those whom we consider wise? Isn’t it usually those who think the same as we do?
Both of these difficulties illustrate that there is a strong personal element to guidance. If we’re honest, we’ll have to admit the truth of this statement by John White: “Deep in your heart it is not guidance that you want as much as a guide.” When the path before us is uncertain, we need not only facts and information; we need a friendly person who will guide us by leading us and supporting us.
Ultimately, we should want our guidance to be based on truth. Whether we’re giving guidance to others or seeking guidance for ourselves, our desire should be both to advise and to do what is right. And truth’s guidance would be more clear to us if we listened more honestly to our conscience. Conscience is not an infallible guide, of course, because our conscience may be misinformed. But more often than not, our conscience will give us helpful guidance. The problem is, we don’t listen. And not even the best guidance can help the “deaf.”
“Everywhere, O Truth, dost thou give audience to all who ask counsel of thee, and at once answerest all, though on manifold matters they ask thy counsel. Clearly dost thou answer, though all do not clearly hear” (Augustine of Hippo).