This is the third in our series of blogs from Graham Hooper, author of??Undivided ? closing the faith-life gap?. ?You can check out our previous interview with Graham?here.
?The way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice? (12:15)
In a large machinery repair workshop where I once worked, the foreman had posted this notice in large print on the wall:
?To ask is not stupidity. Not to ask is?.
It was there for the benefit of the workshop apprentices who may have felt reluctant to show their ignorance about a particular system or procedure. It was there to encourage a workplace culture of learning and to discourage an ?I know more it all? attitude, which in an engineering workshop is not just unhelpful, it can be downright dangerous.
Proverbs is very strong on the wisdom of a willingness to listen and learn. ?Listen to the words of the wise (1:5), listen to your parents (1:8) and learn to reverence God (1:7). Then discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you (2:11). It is only fools who despise wisdom and instruction (1:7).
There seems to be a disease which afflicts some people who get promoted into senior positions, in politics, business, academia or even in the church! The visible symptoms are that the new leader no longer thinks that anything worthwhile is happening unless they are doing the talking! I shared a dinner table recently with a business leader who talked a lot and then played with his iPhone while anyone else was talking. It was obviously discourteous behaviour, but it is was also a symptom of such an overweening pride that the person in question no longer thought he could learn anything of value from those he regarded as the lesser beings around him. So he was no longer willing to even offer the simple courtesy of listening.
This all stems from a false view of leadership. Certainly good leaders give clear directions and instructions and need to explain their plans clearly, but a wise leader is also always ready to listen, wanting to learn more and humble enough to take advice and even a rebuke from anyone:
These three Proverbs sum up the importance of being willing to listen, to learn and to respect the views of others:
- ?A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions? (18:2)
- ?He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise? (15:31).
- ?Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD? (16:20)