Best Advice . . .
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I have received a lot of advice in my lifetime - some of it valuable, but most of little consequence.  The most valuable advice usually comes from people of great integrity and even greater wisdom.  They may not have known how powerful their advice actually was to me, probably because their wisdom was ingrained and spilled out of the depth of their character . . . so much a part of them they didn’t feel that what they said was all that special, but it was.

One man’s advice came to me during a critical time where  I felt as if I was being attacked in a particular situation.  In the darkest part of that conflict I found myself having lunch with Dr. Paul Benefiel.  I respected him greatly.  I found myself unloading onto him about the situation I found myself in.  He listened carefully, nodded as if understanding me and supported me personally.  He could have advised me in any number of ways, but after I waxed on about the conflict and the personalities I felt were driving the conflict he sat back and said, “Dave, don’t ever create mental enemies.  Those people are most likely good people like you are.  They just don’t agree with you.  Don’t project on them what they are not.” 

It stunned me.  At first it felt like he was ‘taking their side’ in the situation.  But he was actually teaching me an extremely important lesson of grace-filled, servant leadership.  People will not always agree with what you say, or follow your great ideas.  That doesn’t make them ignorant or a negative influence on the situation.  It simply means they think differently than you.  Dr. Benefiel was helping me understand that people who think differently than I do are actually helping you think more clearly, to see things from a different perspective.  He was helping me to become a more mature Christian leader by not taking disagreements and conflict so personally.  He wasn’t helping me to have a thicker skin, but a larger heart.  “Don’t create mental enemies.”  Instead, choose to see others through the eyes of Jesus.  Choose to listen to contrarian thoughts, learn from others most unlike you because they see things much differently than you and that can save you from yourself.  Great advice from a wise man.

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