Why We Avoid the Wise

Have you ever avoided someone you knew had good advice for you?

Maybe it was a personal trainer who told you to cut back on your sugar intake?
But you love Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream and you refused to stop eating it?
But you didn’t want to lie to the person you were paying to help you.

So, you quit. And then when, or if, you went to the gym, you made sure you didn’t run into him, didn’t speak to him, avoided eye contact.
Why? Because he’s a vindictive and judgmental person?
No, because his advice was sound. It was helpful and precisely what you needed to reach your goal.
You just didn’t want to take it. So now you have to break up with him and walk the long way around the personal training desk to get to the cardio machines.

Maybe it was your financial advisor who kept pressing you to save for retirement.
Or your sponsor who wouldn’t relent when it came to challenging you to complete your 4th step.
Or your counselor who encouraged you to take a deeper look at the root cause of your anxiety.
Or a friend who recommends you fight harder for a healthy work/ life balance.
We all have them. Smart, kind, intelligent, well-meaning people that we avoid.
Because we know they’re right, but we’d rather keep doing what we’re doing.

The scriptures say it this way: “Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise” (Proverbs 15:12). Even when we know we’re wrong and the path we’re taking will likely end in defeat, we’d rather be careless, than be corrected. This is the hard-headed, stiff-necked, cold-hearted foolishness that will sabotage our pocketbooks, parenting, partnerships and blood pressure.
Sure, you get to be the unchallenged Master of Your Destiny, but you’re still a slave to the impulses you can’t, or won’t, wrestle down.

There is another option, however. It’s listed in the same chapter, just a few verses later. It says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31). You can walk towards the people, and the counsel, that makes you better. Or you can walk away from them. One path leads to wisdom, the other to disappointment.

And standing still doesn’t count. Because the whole “not making a decision is still making a decision” adage is true. We either walk towards wisdom, or we don’t. Sure, leaning into wisdom is uncomfortable. It requires us to use self-control and sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term wins, but it really does get us to where we want to go.


Craig Custance