Learning From Mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was young (teenager up to age 30) was failing to be teachable, especially in the area of taking advice. I remember my mom encouraging me once to learn from her mistakes. My response, “I want to make my own mistakes.” I know. Stupid.
I’ve since realized the immense value of learning from others, of taking advice forged in the depths of consequences. I see reminders of this value throughout the Bible, and they always encourage me to stay willing to receive advice from others.
Let’s look at a few verses in Proverbs 13 for insight into how taking advice is beneficial. By no means is this all the Bible has to say about taking advice, but it’s a good start.
“Pride leads to arguments. Those who take advice are wise.” (v. 10)
“People who despise advice will find themselves in trouble; those who respect it will succeed.” (v. 13)
“The advice of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.” (v. 14)
“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored.” (v. 18)
Notice the role pride plays in distracting us from receiving advice. Also, we are to respect advice but not necessarily follow every piece of it. Who we receive advice from is also important as is the realization that advice sometimes comes in the form of criticism.
When I combine these reflections with my experiences in receiving advice along with other Scripture on the topic (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15; 19:20; James 1:5), I realize the importance of listening to the advice that comes my way. It’s not always accurate, but it is always worth hearing out and storing for future reference.
As a young person, I failed to listen to the advice of those older than me and instead relied on my own feelings or on the advice of those my age who also acted mostly based on feelings. As a result, I ended up making the same types of mistakes that Rehoboam made (1 Kings 12:6-8). Age isn’t always important when it comes to the source of advice; however, experience does matter and can play a tremendous role in the value of advice.
Taking advice and learning from the experiences of others is just one example of how to be teachable. Being teachable also involves listening, asking for help, and pursuing wisdom.
Are you good at receiving advice from others? In what ways are you teachable? How can you become more teachable? I encourage you to spend time prayerfully considering these questions and determine to cultivate a teachable spirit.