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Watch What You Lean On

September 20, 2018

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

During a ministry trip to the islands of the Caribbean, I happened to sit next to an unfamiliar attorney on a charter boat excursion. As we chatted, we discovered that we attended the same high school in New Jersey at the same time, with many old-time friends in common. I had told him that my name was Stowell. In the course of our unbelievable “we-have-so-much-in-common” conversation, he said to me, “Did you say your name was Stillwell?” I repeated my name, and he said, “Oh, because I have a client whose name is Stillwell.” I asked, “It wouldn’t be Art Stillwell would it?” He told me that it was.

It turns out that this man’s client was a man I grew up with in church. My dad was his pastor. Art Stillwell owned several major car dealerships in New Jersey, and this attorney represented him. That was the topper for so much in common, but for as long as I live I’ll never forget what he said next.

Reflectively, he told me, “I have no other client like Art Stillwell.” When I asked why, he went on to say, “When my other clients get in a jam, they ask me to do whatever it takes to get them out of their bind—regardless of what it takes. But not Art. Whenever I ask him that same question, he replies, ‘Just do what’s right.’ ”

That’s exactly what God meant when he told us: “Lean not on your own understanding.” It means don’t trust yourself. Don’t even trust your instinct. You might have an MBA or be the top performer in your field, or you might feel like you got a really bad deal. But unless you’ve actually taken the time to shut down your agenda and go with God’s, you’re on shaky ground. If you’re thinking of making a tough call or big-time decision without finding out “what is right” from God’s point of view, what you’re leaning on might just give way and send you tumbling.

Don’t go there. Watch what you lean on.

When you’re deciding how to respond to your supervisor’s latest directive or your financial advisor’s hottest tip or your boyfriend’s passionate invitation—do what’s right by doing what God says. Every time. Not only will it get you on track but someone might just notice how wonderfully different you are!


  • In what ways do you regularly bring God’s thoughts and guidance into the loop in decision-making? In what areas of your life do you usually go with your gut-level instincts?
  • How can you begin to acknowledge the Lord in your everyday decisions?
  • Take some time to read through Proverbs 3:1-35. What is the role of God’s wisdom in our lives? According to this chapter, what is the net gain of seeking God’s wisdom rather than relying on our own?
  • Pray specifically about an issue where you need God’s clear direction. Make your request for wisdom as specific as possible, and then wait for His response.