The Lone Ranger first launched as a radio show back in 1933 and quickly gained the love of its listening audience. The popularity of the show grew so much that it became a television show that ran from 1948-1957. The show was about a former Texas Ranger who fought outlaws and he became an enduring icon of American culture. The idea of being a Lone Ranger captures the inner longing of our collective cultural moment. We want to be the captain of our own ship, the master of our own domain.
However, the early church had a different approach to life and specifically to decision making. When they were faced with the biggest theological decision they’d ever made, they called for a council to meet. They didn’t take a Lone Ranger approach, they wanted to get the collective wisdom and insight of the church before they made their decision about the future. As we review the account, we see that the church “debated,” they “discussed,” and they “judged” – all with the intent of trying to listen to different points of view. Then when it came time to make a decision, they took all of that feedback into account and moved forward in unity (Acts 15:25).
The Early Church laid out a good model for us to follow, not only corporately, but in our personal lives as well. So, what might it look like to open ourselves to the collective wisdom of others? There are a few things that come to mind. First, invite people to speak into your life. This is not something that will come automatically, you must seek it out. And then when people give you feedback, try your best to receive it humbly. Don’t overreact, even if you disagree. Attempt to see things from their viewpoint and ask yourself if what they’re saying might be true. Second, weigh people’s input differently. Not all advice is created equal. Weigh people’s input based on their love for you. Ask, does this person care about me? Will they be here even if I don’t take their advice? Weigh their advice based on the life they live. Do you want to live the kind of life this person is living? If you take their advice, your life will probably end up looking similar to theirs. However, don’t base your acceptance of input on whether or not you like their feedback.
We can all benefit from having others speak into our lives – just like the Early Church did. Do you have those kinds of people in your life? If not, ask Jesus how you could cultivate those kinds of relationships. If you do, reach out today and let those people know that you’re grateful for them.
Pastor Ryan Paulson