The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received
Think back to some of the best words of wisdom you’ve ever received. Maybe it was from a grandmother, or maybe it was from your father. Perhaps it was from a teacher or a coach. It could have been given to you by a friend or a neighbor. The words of wisdom that we can still recall years later usually came at a time of great importance in our life, when we’re at a fork in the road or when we’re walking through a particularly hard season or when we’re entering a new phase of life. What are some of the words of sound advice that have stuck with you along the way?
For me, I can remember clearly the best advice I’ve ever received.
I was a college student. I attended UGA with great plans of being a sportswriter, but the Lord redirected me and set me on a completely different course during my junior and senior years at Georgia. It seemed clear to me by later in my college days that the Lord would have me go into a ministry position, initially serving as a college minister at North Georgia College in Dahlonega. At that point, I wasn’t exactly sure how long of a season of life that would be, or what would come after that, but I knew that I had a passion for sharing Christ, for making disciples, for teaching Scripture. My life was heading in a completely new direction.
At some point in those days I went back home to see my family in our hometown. I believe that I was a college junior at this point, but I am not certain. Our church’s pastor, Dave Sandridge, had invited me to preach at a Sunday night service. I still remember having my younger sister positioned in the audience, and she and I had hand signals worked out where she could let me know if I was speaking too fast. She used that hand signal a lot that night!
But before that service I was sitting with Pastor Dave in his office. I can see his big wooden desk, and the wood paneling on the walls, and the color of the carpet even right now. I was telling him some of the things that I had been thinking, and what it seemed to me that the Lord was doing in my life, and he was asking me questions and encouraging me along the way. Honestly, I wish I remembered more of what he said. He was an incredibly humble man, a wise man and a caring pastor who loved to serve Christ by serving his church. I’m sure everything he said that afternoon was pure gold and was worthy of remembering for the rest of my life, but what I remember clearly is this, the best advice I’ve ever received:
Somewhere near the end of the conversation I asked Pastor Dave, “What advice would you give someone like me?” I was expecting a long list. Go to seminary. Get some experience by serving as a supply preacher for churches. Listen to the great preachers. Learn the original languages of Scripture. I was ready for it, but he didn’t give me the list. Instead, he leaned across his desk a little, with his hands folded in front of him, looked me in the eye, and said:
“Spend time with God every single day.”
And that was it. He sat back, allowing me to let his words sink in.
Spend time with God every single day.Dave Sandridge
Right away I thought, that’s a good word, but over the years I’ve seen more and more, that’s the best advice I’ve ever received.
Since that conversation, I’ve not done that perfectly. But occasionally in my mind something will bring me back to the office of Dave Sandridge, and I can see him, and I can hear his words of wisdom come to me all over again. “Spend time with God every single day.”
What does that look like? For me, while it usually includes a cup of coffee in the early morning, it always includes an open Bible and an open heart, ready to receive God’s Word and ready to speak back to God in prayer. On the outside, it might not look like anything all that special, but it’s the most important thing I do.
Pastor Dave’s words were wise words because they sound a lot like the word of the One who himself is the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ. In his well-known visit to the home of Mary and Martha, while Martha was busying herself with preparations, her sister Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to his word. When Martha complained about this to Jesus, Jesus replied by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)
One thing is necessary: sitting before Jesus, hearing his word.
And God has invited us in to that. God has given us the incredible privilege of spending time with him, of communing with the living God, the maker of heaven and earth. In the Scripture, he has spoken to you his words of life (see Deuteronomy 32:47). And he’s ready to listen to your words to him. Over the years, little by little, his Spirit will use his word to shape you and form you—to transform you—more into his image, just by spending time with him in his word every day.
A wise pastor encouraged me years ago that this was the most important thing. In his wisdom, he pointed me to the place where I could daily receive God’s wisdom. And praise God, because I still need God’s wisdom every day! He’s still shaping me, he’s still forming me, he’s still transforming me by spending time with him every day.
What about you? What’s keeping you from spending time with God every day? What might it look like for you to take the first step to get started, or to take the next step and keep going?
May Pastor Dave’s good word be a blessing to you as it was to me. “Spend time with God every single day.” Amen.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.