At this time of year, every four years, the president submits his Cabinet appointments to Congress for approval. This is an important tradition. The Cabinet was designed to be the president’s advisors. They were not to make his decisions or his laws, but they were to provide the president with wisdom in their areas of expertise. Very important roles. The Congress has the job of making sure each cabinet member will provide good advice and will uphold the Constitution. Also important.
President-Elect Trump has submitted his cabinet picks to Congress as the 44 presidents before him did. He has done his best to pick a cabinet that will provide him good recommendations for the four years ahead. I commend him for his and his team’s efforts, though I don’t necessarily agree with all of his choices.
Picking a group of advisors is important, as I have repeated. We all need to surround ourselves with wise people, men and women, who will help us make good decisions. Without a community around us, we are bound to make bad choices. Proverbs makes this quite clear:
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)
For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers. (Proverbs 11:14)
Surely you need guidance to wage war,
and victory is won through many advisers. (Proverbs 24:6)
However, it is not enough to have many people whispering in our ear, we need to make sure those people are wise and will speak truth, even when it hurts.
Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value the one who speaks what is right. (Proverbs 16:13)
Once we have surrounded ourselves with these truth-tellers, we need to listen to them, even when we don’t want to.
King Rehoboam learned this lesson the hard way, by having his kingdom disintegrate because of his decisions. In 1 Kings 12, we read:
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king…. The whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ ”
You can guess what happened next. The people of Israel were not happy. The majority of the kingdom split off and appointed a new king. Rehoboam was left with a meager one-fifth of his original nation.
Rehoboam had some wise advisors. However, he did not listen to them. Instead, he listened to men who were not wise but who gave him the answer he wanted. We all have this tendency.
Mr. Trump, take care to choose men who will tell you the truth, even when it hurts. And, when they do, listen to them. Do not make the same mistake as Rehoboam.