Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 28

“This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.” – Jeremiah 38:4 

Have you ever had the frustrating experience of being ignored when you tried to offer advice to someone in an effort to protect them, warning of something you know to be potentially harmful?  Or perhaps you were the one who ignored the warning and suffered the consequences.  Most of us have.  An example might be a mother warning her small child to not touch the burner on a hot stove.  (I did that once when I was four-years-old, and I still remember those painful burns on my fingers.)

Once I recall getting crossways with one of our hiring managers who was insistent on recruiting a certain individual who was well known to me for having a long history of creating turmoil and conflict.  Yet, despite my warnings the manager hired him anyway, assuring me he could control the guy’s behavior.  A couple of years passed, then one day I received a call from the manager admitting that I had been right and apologizing for not heeding my advice in the first place.  Had I not been guilty many times myself of failing to heed someone’s warning, maybe I would have been tempted to rub that manager’s nose in a big “I told you so.”   But the truth is, I appreciated the manager’s humility and courage to admit his error, which I believe spoke volumes about his integrity.

That little episode from my corporate career is not so different from that of the Prophet Jeremiah during biblical times when he tried to warn the people of Jerusalem, “Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine and plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live.”  But instead of believing Jeremiah and heeding his warning, some of the officials demanded that he be killed.  “This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin,” they cried out to King Zedekiah, then threw him into a muddy cistern where he would have died except for another official – a foreigner – who convinced the king that Jeremiah’s prophecy was in fact true.

Sometimes I think it is hard to hear the truth when the truth is not what we want to hear.  That manager did not want to hear that he was making a bad hire, so he ignored my warning.  The people of Jerusalem did not want to surrender to the Babylonians, so they ignored Jeremiah’s warning.  Thus has it often been with some of my own bad decisions, ignoring the warnings because I did not want to hear it, then suffering the consequences.

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