It is generally a good idea to check in with experienced and capable people before making a significant decision. They may help you look at the problem from different perspectives, and they may recommend options you hadn’t thought of. Hearing from a variety of people can enrich your experience and help you make better decisions than you would have made on your own.
But there is a difference between seeking advice and outsourcing the decision-making process. Not all advice is equally good, and you are ultimately accountable for the decisions you make.
I’ve been thinking today about two incidents in the scriptures where a king was excessively influenced by his advisors:
When Vashti, queen of Persia, refused to be paraded in front of her husband’s drunken friends, King Ahasuerus asked his wise men, “What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?” One of these “wise men,” Memucan worried about the effect of the queen’s disobedience on other women in the kingdom. “For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes.” He recommended that she be deposed and never come into the king’s presence again (Esther 1:10-22).
Did the king ever regret this decision? The scriptures don’t say. But there are multiple red flags in the way the decision was made.
- Why did he have to act so quickly? Couldn’t he have taken a little more time before making such a significant decision?
- His advisor’s advice was motivated by a fear of far-reaching negative outcomes. Were there other considerations that should have factored in to the decision?
- It doesn’t sound like any other advice was given. What’s the point of consulting with “wise men” (plural) if you’re going to act on the first opinion you hear?
There’s a similar story in the Book of Mormon. When King Noah condemned Abinadi to death, the prophet responded with courage and conviction: “I will suffer even until death,” he said, “and I will not recall my words, and they shall stand as a testimony against you. And if ye slay me ye will shed innocent blood, and this shall also stand as a testimony against you at the last day.” Abinadi’s appeal to a higher authority was troubling to King Noah, who began to question the verdict. Just when Noah was about to release him, “the priests lifted up their voices against him, and began to accuse him, saying: He has reviled the king. Therefore the king was stirred up in anger against him, and he delivered him up that he might be slain” (Mosiah 17:9-12).
Who’s in the driver’s seat here? King Noah may have believed that he was in charge, but he was clearly unduly influenced by his priests, who knew how to appeal to his emotions.
Today, I will take responsibility for my decisions. I will seek advice from multiple sources, but I will remember that ultimately, I must live with the consequences of my choices.