Counsel is a special gift of advice that can enable a young person to avoid some of the poor decisions and mistakes of their elders. It is absolutely necessary, because poor decisions and mistakes have consequences that affect the lives of others beyond those who just made the poor decisions and mistakes. Sometimes the consequences are very extensive and can last for a long time. Most of us can probably think of at least one example of a poor decision that affected a wide circle of individuals, perhaps even for generations.

Wise Counsel often comes from elders

It is the older generation of men and women who have the opportunity and the responsibility to share their wisdom with the young generation. This is how children and youth learn. This is how progress and improvements in living are made over a span of time. This is how any bad cycle of severe consequences from poor decisions and mistakes is broken or halted. It is the elders who must tell the children and youth “No!” or “that is not a good idea” when these children and youth seek to implement some dangerous or poor course of action.

Parents are usually the first set of elder counselors that anyone has in this process, and they may have this particular role and responsibility for years without much assistance from anyone else. It is nice if grandparents are around, because they can provide even a bigger frame of wisdom from a longer span of years than that which would come just from the recent generation of the parents.

Wise counsel is not always well received

Of course children and youth are not always going to like to hear “No!” or any other negative directive in regard to what they want to do. Other children and youth and even older individuals in their circles of friends may be encouraging them to make a bad decision. Children and youth like to argue that the changes of time over the course of years invalidates the wisdom of their elders because the situation is different now than it was then and the decision that they seek to implement will not have the same consequences that it had years before.

Not all elders are wise all of the time

Some elders even seem to believe that time changes situations so that what was a poor decision years previously may be okay now, that the consequences of a chosen course of action were not as bad as they initially seemed to be. And some elders are very good at rationalizing their poor decisions and minimizing the consequences of their mistakes. Some elders still do not like to hear negative comments from others, particularly if it comes from someone in the younger generation. And most of us elders can be overly influenced by our emotions, if we are not careful.

Wise counsel is more thoughtful than good advice

A person can probably get a lot of “good advice” about which lottery tickets to purchase, but the best “wise counsel” that he or she might get from a mature friend is to “go home and pay off your credit card”. What is often passed off as “good advice”, like what one might get at a casino, is probably too often only foolish opinion.

Wise counsel will come from individuals who know the difference between…

  • what is ultimately good and what is just currently popular,
  • what is really valuable and what is just cheap,
  • a smart investment and just a quick profit,
  • what is earned and what is only borrowed,
  • what is achieved by hard work and what is just lucky,
  • being happy and just having fun,
  • what is beautiful and what just looks attractive,
  • what is ultimately right and what may just be legal,
  • what is really a generous gift and what is a selfish token,
  • a sincere apology and a weak excuse,
  • what is true and what is just a matter of opinion,
  • what is to be hard sought and what is to be tolerated,
  • when help is appropriate and when it should be withheld to encourage one to struggle,
  • love and lust,
  • what is really dangerous and what may just be somewhat risky,
  • what is worth fighting against and what one should run from,
  • what is a legitimate source of hope and what is a technique of mass marketing,
  • a real miracle and a magic trick,
  • what is wise and what is foolish,
  • what is a blessing and what is a temptation,
  • what can last forever and what is only temporary

The source of wise counsel and its superiority

Solomon, the ancient king of Israel who was reputed to be the “wisest man who ever lived”, felt that guarding “the course” of one’s life is one of the benefits that wise elders can give to youth of the next generation through the gift of wise counsel. Solomon had many things to say about the importance of youth listening to the wise advice of their elders, but he also had some important things to say about the blessings of wisdom to those who have this resource in their lives. He wrote that wisdom “is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold…is more precious than rubies”. And he added, “Long life is in her right hand…. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is the tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed”.

The need for wise counsel

There certainly cannot be any doubt that the youth and a significant number of adults in the United States, and probably many of them in the rest of the world, need the benefits of wise counsel in the course of the lives that they are pursuing and the decisions that they are making and considering. Many of the very basic foundations of social order in the United States as well as in other countries of the world are being drastically changed or severely threatened. It may be too late to save some social structures from collapsing because of years of poor decisions that have been made in their development, but it is never too late to give the gift of wise counsel to those youth and children and others that you can reach.