SUMMARY: This week in the news, Johnny Manziel was offering advice to Lamar Jackson who was named the 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner. This heading immediately captured my attention, for all kinds of reasons. In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller shares his thoughts on wise counsel, reasons it’s important to the man of God, and what we should do to find it.
This week Johnny Manziel was offering advice to Lamar Jackson who was named the 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner. This heading immediately captured my attention, for all kinds of reasons. As I continued to read through the buzz about Manziel and Jackson and their interaction, I was enlightened by some of the content and video on Twitter and Instagram. And I felt this sinking feeling for Jackson.
Many of us know that Manziel was a definitive winner of the Heisman Trophy in 2012 while quarterback at Texas A & M. Manziel was often referred to by fans in high school and college as “Johnny Football” and did have unprecedented statistics during his two college years of football. One record he destroyed was the all-time total yards of offense held by Archie Manning producing 557 yards of total offense in a single game. Now this is unbelievable.
But as we know, it was off the field where Manziel’s play struggled most. He was, and still is known for his arrogant swagger, hard language, defiant attitude, excessive partying, and poor treatment of women. While it would be easy for me to be critical of Manziel, I will say I do not know him personally, nor do I know his struggles, but his behavior has been less than desirable as viewed on the world’s stage. Yet, I will say, I found myself secretly rooting for him when he was recruited by the Cleveland Browns. I had part of me that hoped he would break through the swagger and have a rebirth in the NFL. Sadly, after two disappointing seasons he was gone, and today still shows up from time to time in the news. And Johnny if you are out there, I want you to know I am still secretly rooting for you. It is never too late for a breakthrough.
But back to the topic.
While the sudden stardom and achievements of Manziel during his two years in college are astonishing, his character is far more important than his skill. And it is the impact of this character on Jackson that heightened my awareness when I read his article today.
In a moment like this my mind immediately recalls the warning of 1 Corinthians 15:33 where Paul quotes a statement from a play which reads, “33 Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” This quote by Paul, is something theologians attribute to an ancient pagan play written by Menader a Greek Playwright who lived a couple of hundred years before Jesus Christ. He wrote over 100 comedies and one was entitled “Thais” which was based on a power woman by the same name who was the companion of Ptolemy general of Alexander the Great. Since we only have excerpts from this play, we are not sure what Paul intend to capture with this quote, but we can be sure that the axiom itself contains truth that Paul wants us all to hear loud and clear.
Be certain that coupling, or even casual association of our personhood with “bad company” is always going to impact our character. This association and impact may be subtle or obvious, but it does happen whether we want it to or not. It is an unstoppable force. And this is a concern not only in my life, but also for my children, and the people I lead. And why? Well there are at least two reasons for concern.
First, because of the potential impact of the negative morals of others. The unspoken values and character that of a man impacts his thinking, attitude, and behavior. And the more time we spend with people absorbing their thinking, attitude, and behavior we imitate their behavior which informs our character and values. This is always true. Like a river of values moving through our soul, we can avoid the osmosis of these values which inform us. The Old Testament Psalmist capture this truth in Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” His encouragement is to be absorbed in truth that consumes our thinking and shapes the fabric of who we are because the counsel, activity, and language of the sinner is consuming and shaping to the character of the man. And we must fight for truth that shapes who we are.
Second, because we need good counsel from people with God-centered values in our life. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” And Proverbs 11:14, also says “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Men, I will confess that I have often made decisions independent of other wise men. While every single decision we make does not need counsel, failing to understand how to involve others who have God-centered value systems is a tragic mistake. Often my own selfishness and self-centeredness keeps me from inviting feedback about issues that I think I can handle on my own. And I will get trapped in making decisions from my own myopic viewpoint of a situation. And from experience, this is a dangerous and lonely place to be. We should learn the meaning of Proverbs 12:15 and 11:14 that teach us to avoid these potential pitfalls by surrounding ourselves with the right people who share good advice and have an abundance of wise counsel.
So, gentlemen, my advice to Johnny Manziel and Lamar Jackson. Get wise counsel from godly men.
And by now you’ve probably been evaluating who you spend time with. Right?
And I bet there are people out there should be spending less time with and then there are other that you need to spend more time with. So I would welcome you to not only evaluate but take action on it.