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How Not To Be Your Own Worst Enemy Part 3 | "Listen"

You want what you want. But what happens when doing what you want leads precisely where you didn’t want to be?

  1. What is one topic for which you feel confident giving advice?
  2. Do you prefer to make decisions alone or with the support of others? Explain.
  3. Which of the following thoughts, if any, make it difficult to ask for advice? 1.) You already know what they’re going to say. 2.) It’s nobody’s business. 3.) You don’t need anybody’s advice.
  4. Are you ignoring someone’s advice? Is it worth ignoring or have you created a narrative that allows you to reject it?

NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.

You may be familiar or maybe not, but maybe familiar with this phrase, “genetic fallacy”. Genetic fallacy. It’s also known as the fallacy of origins or some people refer to it as the fallacy of virtue. I’ve never really heard of that one before, but genetic fallacy is usually how you hear about it. And if you remember back from school what a fallacy is, a fallacy is an error in reasoning, something that doesn’t make any sense. It’s an error in reasoning, for example, here’s a famous one. Dogs have four legs, my cat has four legs, my cat is a dog. No. Okay, so, how about this one? Bill lives in an enormous apartment complex, Bill must have an enormous apartment. Yeah, okay, those are fallacies, right?

Well, the genetic fallacy is a fallacy, but it’s a different kind of fallacy. This is a fallacy that discounts the… When somebody discounts the reliability of information based on the source rather than the merits of the information. Let me say that again. The genetic fallacy is when you discount the reliability of information somebody gives you advice or somebody gives you information and you discount it based on the source rather than the merits of the information. So for example, if I came in here today and said, “Hey, this morning, I saw a report on CNN that… ” about half of you would be like “CNN, uh-uh.” [laughter] But if I got up here and said, “Hey, this morning, I saw a report on Fox News that… ” the other half of you would be like, “Fox News, uh-uh.” That before I even got to the information, you already suspected the information because of the source. Or maybe you’re more in this camp, if somebody walked up to you this week and said, “My preacher said,” you’d be like, “What could your preacher possibly know that could help me?” Right?

So it’s easy to discount information based on the source of the information rather than the merits of the information. But you know this: Advice, advice in particular, should be judged on the merits of the advice, not the source. If not, if not, if you fall for the genetic fallacy, which so many people do, you might become your own worst enemy. Your own worst enemy. Now, this is, as you may know, this is part three of this series. We’re wrapping the series up today, “How Not to Be Your Own Worst Enemy.” And we’ve all been our own worst enemy and we can all laugh about some events in our lives where we were our own worst enemy. But we’ve also seen people do it up big, right? You’ve seen someone undermine a marriage and became their own worst enemy. They became their own worst enemy financially. They became their own worst enemy academically. Became their own worst enemy professionally.

But when you see somebody do it up big, you think exactly what I think. You think, “I would never do that. I just would never do that.” And maybe you won’t, and hopefully you won’t, but here’s what we’ve said every week, you have the potential to do it up big, you have the potential to become your own worst enemy. And the reason we know that’s true is because you have participated in all of your bad decisions. You were there for all of them. As we said the first week, you were the mastermind behind some of your worst decisions. And the reason that’s a big deal is a single bad decision, right? A single bad decision is always the first step toward becoming your own worst enemy.

That every habit, every bad habit has the first time. Every pattern has a first line. Every journey has a first step. So, in this series, we’re talking about three preemptive habits that if you’ll develop these habits, you will set yourself up not to ever be your own worst enemy in a small way, laughable ways, or in a big way. Now, the reason we’re talking about this is that this whole idea of not becoming your own worst enemy, it’s really not even about you. Because you know this, maybe you know this from the family you grew up in. When you become your own worst enemy, you’re not the only person that’s hurt, right? If you blow up your finances, if you blow up your life, you’re not the only person impacted. The shrapnel of you blowing up your life impacts the people closest to you, it impacts the people in your future, it impacts the people that depend on you. It impacts the people that love you.

So this is a really, really big deal not just because you’re a really big deal, and you’re a really big deal, at least you think so, right? I think I’m a pretty big deal, right? But this isn’t even about us. This is primarily about what it means simply, as we’ll see at the end, to follow Jesus. Because if you are a Jesus follower, you are responsible for how your behavior impacts other people because at the end of the day, how we live our lives is not just about us. We’ll talk a little bit more about that in the end.

So anyway, I gave you these two preemptive habits. We’re gonna look at the third one today, but just quick review, preemptive habit number one, to keep you from becoming your first own worst enemy, is pay attention to the tension. Pay attention to the tension. When you are considering an option, an invitation, any decision and there’s something on the inside of you that’s like, “I don’t know about that.” Pay attention to that tension. If something about the decision dings your conscience, it doesn’t seem wrong to anybody else but it bothers you, let it bother you. And don’t start, as we said the first week, don’t start selling yourself on it. Don’t start trying to convince yourself. We rarely have to sell ourselves on a really good idea.

And then last time we were together, we talked about preemptive habit number two, and that was pay attention to your narratives. Pay attention to what you say to yourself. Pay attention to how you frame things, how you frame decisions, how you frame relationships, how you frame experiences in life because our internal narratives can be helpful but they can be harmful. Our internal narratives actually have the potential to set us up to repeat the past, repeat our failures and become our own worst enemies.

So today, preemptive habit number two, how not to become your own worst enemy, and it’s simply this: Pay attention to the voices of wisdom around you. Pay attention to the voices of wisdom around. Most people who become their own worst enemy were warned, weren’t they? That most people who become their own worst enemy, somebody tried to warn them, but they wouldn’t listen because, this is so important, our worst decisions, don’t miss this, our worst decisions and by worst decisions I mean those decisions that are tipping points, those decisions that are like points of no return, those decisions that if we could go back to that one moment and un-decide, re-decide, decide differently, you know those big moments if only I could go back to that moment, our worst decisions are always, always, always preceded by a series of unwise decisions.

So the idea or rather the habit of listening to the wise voices around us is so extraordinarily important. Because if you’re in the middle of making a decision right now, here’s what I can guarantee you: Somebody is feeling the tension that you’re ignoring. Somebody’s feeling the tension you’re ignoring. There’s somebody around you who is not distracted by your internal narratives. There’s somebody around you that’s connecting some dots that maybe you’re not connecting, and possibly they’re trying to say something to you. But because of your internal narrative, because you’ve already made up your mind, it’s almost impossible for you to listen.

So what I thought I would do today, because this, again, this isn’t new news or new information. I want to read to you a story that comes out of the Hebrew Scripture, or the Christians call it the Old Testament. And this particular story is not one of the more familiar stories in the Old Testament, it’s found in 1 Kings chapter 12, and this particular narrative revolves around Israel’s fourth king. Ancient Israel had a series of kings. From the context, here’s Israel’s kings. You’ll remember maybe from Sunday School or if you grew up in church, King Saul. Perhaps, all of you have heard of King David, and then following King David was David’s son, Solomon, considered the wisest man who ever lived. And the assumption was that after Solomon died, his son Rehoboam would then take the throne of Israel. Now, to fully understand the story, there’s one other character I have to introduce you to. His name is Jeroboam.

And who is Jeroboam? I’m so glad you asked. And here’s where the story begins. Now Jeroboam, not Rehoboam, Jeroboam. Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, that is people thought this guy had it going on, he was an extraordinary leader, he was well known in the community. And when Solomon, when King Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force, which was a big, big deal. This is like becoming part of the cabinet in our way of thinking. He got elevated to extraordinary influence in the kingdom of Israel because he was put in charge of this extraordinarily important and big project, and one day he’s leaving the city of Jerusalem and something very odd happens. About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him. So he’s leaving Jerusalem and this prophet walks up, and whenever a prophet walks up, you know something strange is about to happen. Well, this was really strange. The prophet walks up to Jeroboam and takes off his coat, the prophet takes off his own coat, and then he rips it apart. Begins ripping up his coat, and he rips his coat into 12 pieces, and then he hands 10 pieces of his own coat to Jeroboam, and then he says this, “This is what the Lord God says to you, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands and I’m gonna give you 10 of the tribes.” As you may remember, Israel was made up of 12 tribes. And this prophet says that Solomon, the King, is gonna lose 10 of them and Jeroboam, you are going to be king of 10 tribes of Israel. And why? Well, and this maybe hard for you to take depending on how you grew up in church. But by this time in history, King Solomon had become a pagan king.

I say he was a pagan king because he worshipped multiple gods and that’s the definition of a pagan, somebody who worships multiple gods. And he was building them temples and places of worship all over Judea, which was absolutely against what God had told Israel to do. So by this time, he has abandoned basically his faith and consequently, King Solomon is treating his subjects like all the pagan kings treated their subjects, he treated them like slaves. So, this prophet says God’s fed up with that and when King Solomon dies, the kingdom’s gonna be divided. And Jeroboam, you’re gonna get 10 of the tribes. But, “I will,” God says, “I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hands.” And then he goes on to say this, God says, “I made a covenant with David and I’m gonna keep my end of the deal but David’s lineage is not gonna have the whole kingdom, just two of the 12 tribes.”

Well, apparently, this was so weird to Jeroboam that he didn’t keep his mouth shut and he begin to talk to people saying, “I met this crazy prophet, he tore his coat up, he gave me 10. I mean, this is just weird.” And word got back to Solomon, word got back to Solomon that Jeroboam had been prophesied over him that he was going to be a king in Israel. So Solomon did what ancient kings do when they realize that their dynasty is threatened, Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam found out about it and he fled to Egypt and he stayed there until Solomon finally died. Now, this is where the story gets really practical and really interesting. But first of all, any questions so far? Are you following this? All the oams, everybody’s got an oam, okay. Here we go.

So, Solomon dies, the assumption is, that Rehoboam is gonna be coronated the king, he’s gonna take his father’s place without any challengers. So, this is where the story picks up. So Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, went to Shechem, a city north of Jerusalem, where actually the original capital of ancient Israel, for all the Israel had gone there to make him king. This is the best day of his life. When Jeroboam who, Solomon raised up have been headed off for Egypt, when Jeroboam heard this, when he heard that Solomon was dead, he thought, “Oh, it’s safe for me to come back home because the king is dead.” When Jeroboam heard this, he was still in Egypt where he had fled from King Solomon, he returned for Egypt. And so they, they being the assembly that represents the people, so they sent for Jeroboam. So the representatives of the people sent for Jeroboam because he was still an outstanding leader and had so much the respect of the people, and he and the whole assembly that represented the nation of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him…

“Your father Solomon put a heavy, heavy yoke on us. Your father was like all the other kings. He treated us like slaves, but now we want you to do something different. But now we want you to lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke that he put on us and if you do, Rehoboam, we will serve you willingly. We will serve you, but you gotta stop with all the nonstop construction. You gotta stop with all the taxes. You gotta stop from taking all the men out of our cities and sending them off to these foreign places to cut stone and drag ’em to build these monuments to your father. We will serve you willingly.” Well, at this point, Rehoboam makes two really, really good decisions. The first one is this: So Rehoboam said, answered, “Go away for three days and then come back.” And so the people went away, so this was a good decision. He said, “Let me think about this. Good idea.” And then, King Rehoboam made another good decision. Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders, the old guys, the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime, they’re never really good decision. These guys are older, they’re wiser, they have perspective, and they knew some things that Solomon didn’t know and they knew some thing that Rehoboam will never know.

Now for those of you who lead an organization or lead a department, or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, you have several companies or you run a franchise, you know this, I know this as a leader, there are things you never know as the leader. There’s always yakety-yak and people have conversations and opinions and you almost never get that information, and it’s always important to have people who’ll be honest with you because the information doesn’t flow up unfiltered in an organization and it certainly didn’t in a kingdom. So this was a good idea because these men who had advised Solomon, they knew the real deal, they knew what Solomon didn’t know and they knew what Rehoboam would never know as king. So these were good men to go to for advice, and he asked them, “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked. And here’s what the old guys said, they said, “If today, you will be a servant to these people, and if you will serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants. Do you wanna be a king of a united kingdom? Then here’s how: You put their interest ahead of your own. You put their interest ahead of your own.” Very wise counsel, very good leadership instruction. These guys knew.

But here’s what Rehoboam thought, Rehoboam thought what maybe we would be tempted to think, “What do a bunch of old men know? What do a bunch of old men… They’ve already lived their lives. They’ve already had their time. I’m a young man with my whole life ahead of me, with a legacy to build. What could they possibly… No.” And he discounted their good advice because of where that advice came from. But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him. It was what he needed to hear, but it was not what he wanted to do. But it was the only way. And this is where we so need to… This is where we need to dial in as individually. It was the only way to get to where he wanted to be. Did you know, there are people perhaps in and around you that have the advice you need to get you where you wanna be? And you’re discounting their advice because of who they are, they haven’t walked in your footsteps, they’ve never run a business, they’ve never been a parent, they’re only 18 years old, they’ve never been where you are, they’ve never gone through a divorce, they’ve never been in a second marriage, they’ve never tried to blend a family, they’ve never moved out of town to the big city and you have a thousand reasons to discount their advice?

In this case, for Rehoboam, it was a united kingdom, but he didn’t wanna listen. So you know he did? He did what we do. He found some folks who would tell him what he wanted to hear. He found some folks who would tell him what he wanted to hear. Let me tell you how to become your own worst enemy. Surround yourself with people who will tell you what you want to hear. This is how you end up where you don’t wanna be.

So let me just ask you this question real quick kind of lava question and then we’ll keep going with the story. And this isn’t for all of us, but this may be the point in the message where you think somebody emailed Andy and told him my story, okay. They didn’t. Whose advice are you currently ignoring? It may be bad advice, you may need to ignore it. But just for a moment, whose advice are you currently ignoring? And then here’s the real kicker, here’s what makes this question powerful. What is that internal… If you were here last time, what is that internal narrative you’re using to reinforce your resistance to their advice? Because when you pay attention to that narrative, it is gonna be an indicator as to whether or not you are resisting good advice or bad advice. And if there’s something in you that says, “What could they possibly know about?” Then you need to hit pause because you are about to become a victim of a fallacy.

Back to the story. But Rehoboam rejected the advice that the elders gave him and he consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. Young men who had no more life experience than he did. Young men who had no more insight than he did. Young men who worked for him. And so he asked them, “What’s your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, Lighten the yoke your father put on us.”? Because come on, we can always find somebody who’s gonna tell us what we wanna hear, right?

We’re gonna always be able to find people who tell us what we wanna hear so we can do what we wanna do. And here’s the challenge, and if I could just grab some of you by the shoulders, look in your eyes, I would say, “Look, the problem with always doing what you wanna do is you eventually arrive at precisely where you don’t wanna be.” If you only do what you wanna do, you will eventually arrive precisely at the place in your marriage, with your finances, with your profession, academically, spiritually, relationally, influence, you will arrive exactly precisely where you don’t wanna be, you become your own worst enemy, which is exactly as we’re gonna see what happened to Rehoboam.

So the young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people who’ve said to you, Your father put a heavy yoke on us but make our yoke lighter, now here’s what we think you should go back and tell them. Now, you tell them, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.” So Solomon was a big guy, but in that culture, being big was a sign of health and wealth because most people lived on the verge of starvation. So, if you met a really overweight person, it’s like, that person is clearly healthy and they’re wealthy. And so apparently Solomon was really healthy and we know he was really wealthy, and they said, “Hey, you think my father’s waist was big? My little finger is bigger than my father’s waist.”

In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet. And they said, “Here’s what you need to tell those folks, ‘My father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips. I will scourge you with scorpions.'” A scorpion was a type of whip but it was the type of whip you used to punish a criminal, not whip a slave. In other words, the message was gonna be this, “My father treated you like slaves, I’m gonna treat you like criminals.” Well, young guy goes to his head they’re all together, all this adrenaline, it’s like, “Yeah, we’re gonna tell ’em.” So sure enough he goes back, three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, and Jeroboam’s there, he’s already sort of risen up as the spokesperson, the leader, and the king answered the people harshly, rejecting the advice given him by the elders. And the moment he rejected their advice and the moment he announced what I’m about to read that he announced, his fate was sealed and so was the fate of the nation because a series of unwise decisions would lead to a catastrophic decision that would impact tens of thousands of people.

Here’s what he said, he repeated what the young men told him, “You’ve come to me, you wanna know what my answer is? Here’s my answer. My father made your yoke heavy; I’m gonna make it heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” And when all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king. Now here’s something kind of cool. Jeroboam, apparently said to the folks, “Look, he’s not gonna take your advice, he’s not gonna take your advice, he’s not gonna lighten the load.” So they actually showed up with a prepared statement and this statement we know was a quote from a document that a rebel back in David’s time had prepared when he rebelled against David, and this was a document that have floated around, so this was a well-known script. So they read this older script to remind the king, “Hey, this is a big deal, this isn’t just a handful of us, we speak for the nation,” and here’s what they said, they said, “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son?” Jesse was David’s father. “To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” Talking to David’s relative, Rehoboam. “To your tents, Israel. Look after your own house.” In other words, this was their way of saying… I don’t wanna be too rude, they were saying, “Look, go build your own blankety blank cities and palaces.”

“Hey, we don’t recognize your right to rule, go rule yourself.” That was the strength of this message. So, the Israelites threw up their hands and said, “You’re not gonna be our king.” The text says they went home, but it’s for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, the two tribes, Rehoboam still ruled over them.

And so the author says, so Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day, 10 tribes of Israel in rebellion to the house of David and the kingdom never came back together. It was divided, and when it was divided, it was weakened and when it was weakened, it became vulnerable, and when it became vulnerable, it became invadable. Just like me, just like you when we refuse to pay attention to the voices of wisdom around us.

You’ve heard this before, you know that you’ve given this advice but I’m just throwing it back at you. Find someone. Find someone who has nothing to gain and nothing to lose by telling you the truth. Find someone who has nothing to gain and nothing to lose by telling you the truth. And you simply ask them, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” The question is, this is what I ask myself is, why don’t we and why won’t we? And there’s several reasons. For one, in many instances, we already know what they’re gonna say, don’t we? If you already know what somebody’s gonna say when you asked them, you know what to do, don’t you? If you already know what a wise person is gonna say when you ask them, then you already know what to do. So just do it. And if you’re not willing to do it, ask.

The other reason, and I think this is all of us, is sometimes we just don’t think it’s anybody’s business. It’s nobody else’s business and please don’t miss this. It may not be any of their business. You are inviting them into your business and here’s why you need to do that because private decisions have public consequences. Private decisions don’t stay private.

So why not take a risk and invite some people who care about you in now to deal with it while it’s small so it doesn’t become big?” And of course, it’s embarrassing, but private decisions and private issues and private habits don’t stay private. So, no, it’s nobody else’s business. Wise people make it somebody else’s business for the sake of their future, but more importantly, for the sake of the future of the people you love, the people around you.

And then guys, if I can just say something to you. I think one of the reasons we don’t do this, I mean, you already know the answer of what I’m gonna say. It’s just our ego. It’s because success is intoxicating and look, just to burst your bubble. Success doesn’t mean you’re smart and success doesn’t make us smarter. In fact, success often makes us more careless, it makes us clueless. I mean, I’ve heard men say, not exactly these words, but through the years, “Well, Andy… ” You try to get a guy to go to a parenting seminar. You try to get a man to read a book about being a father. “No, I’m not gonna do that.” “Why?” “Well, I was a kid once. I know how to raise one.” Hey, I had a surgery once. [laughter] Would you let me do surgery on you? I don’t think so, and I wouldn’t let do to you do… I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. Somebody can see what you can’t see. Somebody is connecting dots you’re not connecting. There’s somebody perhaps close to you that is not distracted by your internal narrative because they have a different narrative. They can see what you can’t see and you lose if you don’t know what they already know.

I wanna challenge you to make a commitment, even if it’s just for a month or maybe even just for a week, but this is a habit that will serve you well and each of these messages I’ve asked you to make a specific commitment related to the message and the commitment related to this one is simply this: Would you commit, I will not automatically discount advice based on the source of the advice? I’m telling you, this will serve you well for the rest of your life. I will not automatically discount advice based on the source of the advice.

And when you make this commitment, you begin to further the habit of paying attention to the voices of wisdom around you because, and you know this already, wise voices, wise voices set you up for wise choices. And why is this a big deal? Because every single person that’s blown up their life, every single person that’s become their own worst enemy, that final decision, that one moment in time they wish they could go back and undo was preceded by a series of unwise, unwise, unwise, unwise decisions. And when we surround ourselves by, with, and when we listen to and when we open ourselves up to the voices of wisdom, we make better decisions, we live with fewer regrets, we avoid becoming our own worst enemy.

So one more time, who’s advice are you currently ignoring? And what’s the narrative that fuels your ability to reject that advice?