I didn't have to wonder what he meant. The boys had been, well, boys, and I had, well, yelled. Nothing new. What felt different was that I was ready for advice. I didn't bristle or feel defensive. I think it is fair to say that I took it all in without too much objection.
Advice has never been easy for me. Who wants to be corrected, reigned in, or told to come back to shallow water?
A few days later, I returned to my Bible and where I had left off in Proverbs. I was not surprised to feel like God was following up on the parental conversation:
"He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded." Proverbs 13:13"
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24Scorning instruction (or advice) has never been good for me; yet isn't that our nature? It is mine. I've never enjoyed constructive criticism. I like to get it right, all by myself. Yet, it was so much easier, less stressful and less of a struggle to simply say, "Yes, I'd love some advice. What do you think?"
Then there is the familiar "spares the rod" verse - so frequently misinterpreted and misunderstood. My dad's advice did not include any type of corporal punishment; he said I should stick to two or three simple rules, and enforce them swiftly. One strike = one strike; not one or two passes and then, okay, there's a strike. His method involves being consistent. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of patience. It takes a lot of love.
" . . . but he who loves (his son) is careful to discipline him."I am sure that my dad's advice was the result of deliberate thought and prayer: what words to say and when to say them. I am also sure that my surprisingly open heart was the result of my frequent prayer: "Lord, help me with these boys." I meant for God to reveal wisdom to me, so that I would know what to do, without bothering anyone or appearing less than perfect. Turns out, I needed a less comfortable, but more effective, mode of delivery.
How do you take advice?