What should you look for in those from whom you seek counsel?

FOLLOWING ARE EIGHT THINGS to consider when you are seeking counsel from others – and in reverse when you find others seeking counsel from you.

1. Look for someone who CARES about you and what happens to you. If you seek counsel from those who care primarily about promoting themselves or getting money out of you, you are not likely to get good counsel. 

2.Look for someone willing to be COMMITTED AND INVOLVED.  You will benefit most from someone who is willing to spend the time and effort to understand you and your business; someone who is willing to walk with you through whatever you are dealing with; someone who is willing to stick with you for the long term; someone who is accessible and available in person whenever you need them.

3. Look for someone who will help you EMBRACE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. You are responsible and you will be held accountable for your words. thoughts, motives, and actions. You need counselors who will help you embrace this, not those who will act as wizards with magical answers or baby-sitters who will protect you from the consequences of your actions. You need counselors who will help you examine yourself and accept responsibility, not blame others – or your circumstances – for what you do. You need counselors who will help you make decisions, not make the decisions for you.

4. Look for someone who has PAID THE PRICE you are going to have to pay. You can learn the most from those who have already done what you are trying to do. For example, if you want counsel regarding building a business, you should not seek it from a government employee who has spent twenty years building seniority in order to retire with guaranteed income and benefits. Instead, you need to talk to someone who has built a business – maybe several businesses. 

5. Look for someone who has the WISDOM that you need. This wisdom should be real (tested and tried in the real world), not  facts, statistics, or theories from some textbook or website. You should beware of those who act like they have all the answers. And you should remember, the information you think you want is not necessarily the information you need. You may want superficial formulas or quick answers to solve problems or relieve pressure. You need to examine where you are and why, define and understand your options, choose the best course of action, and follow through with the decisions you make. Someone with an understanding of these things (what you need) will be of the most help. 

6. Look for someone who is OBJECTIVE. Objectivity here means a lack of prejudice or hidden agendas. Objectivity is important in three areas. First, the person you seek counsel from needs to be objective about you – an employee who depends upon you for a paycheck, for example, is not likely to be objective about you. Second, the person you seek counsel from needs to be objective about the subject of the counseling. For example, someone who sells a particular investment is not going to be objective about where to invest. Third, the person you seek counsel from needs to be objective about the results of your actions. If your actions are likely to affect the counselor (financially, personally, or publicly), then their counsel may be tainted.

7. Look for someone who has the integrity to SPEAK THE TRUTH. Many will flatter you, especially if they care more about your money (if you are paying them) or your approval (if they are your “friends”). Few will tell you the truth. Even fewer will be able to tell you the truth in a way that will help you.

8. Look for someone who will ENCOURAGE YOU to do what you should do. It does little good for someone to help you see the truth, if seeing the truth is depressing or leaves you without hope. And it’s not enough to have someone encourage you by patting you on the back and telling you that “you can do it.” You need someone who can give you reasons for hope in the midst of struggles. You need someone who can help you see why it is worth it to do what you should do – even if it will be difficult or painful. You need someone who is willing to stand by you (with you) as you proceed to do what you should do.

FINALLY, you should not rely on only one person for counsel – you should seek counsel from a number of different people who have different perspectives, experiences, and resources.

If you would like to see what this looks like in the lives of some or our clients, just click some of the items to the top right of this page.

If you are a business owner and you need counsel like this, please click “CONTACT US” at the top right of this page or call us at (503) 927-2750. If it seems appropriate, I will meet with you in person and discuss your needs without any charge.


I was 26 years old, I expected that the next couple hours would mean an additional $50,000 in my pocket. I was meeting with Jerry Stafford, a wealthy business owner. I was hoping to convince him to invest in one of my corporations. We were meeting in my office on the thirty-sixth floor of Brooks Towers in downtown Denver.

After a brief discussion about how the Broncos were doing, I launched into what I thought was a powerful presentation of my business plan and optimistic projections of how much money it would return to investors.

After about an hour, Jerry interrupted and asked me if he could ask a question. I said sure!  (The salesman in me was excited that I could turn any question he asked into another reason he should invest!) Little did I know his question would disrupt my entire life.

Jerry looked at me with an intense look in his eye and said “What is your Source?”

I looked back, bewildered, and said “what do you mean ‘What is my Source?”

He said, “Well, three things: First, what is your source of direction? Where did you get all the ideas for the plans you just explained. Second, what is your source of strength? You just described yourself accomplishing some monumental things – almost singlehandedly. Where are you going to get the personal strength to do all this?”

Then came a question that was like a knife in my gut. After a pause, Jerry said, “Third, what is your source of truth – how do you know you are not deceived about yourself and everything you are planning to do? “

I was stunned, I had no idea what to say. I was also insulted, how dare this guy ask me something like this.

I mumbled something about all my experience and about how distinguished our board of directors was – and then ran out of words.  I sat there struggling in silence, trying to think of something else to say.

Jerry then broke the silence by asking if he could tell me what his source was? I said “sure”, releived to be off the hook. Jerry then said calmly and kindly, “my source is Jesus Christ. He guides me – shows me what to do. He gives me the strength to do what I should do. And He shows me the truth about myself and the world in which I live.”

I thought to myself, “oh great, a religious kook. I am not going to get any money out of this guy.”

I stood up and angrily said; “you are wasting my time”.

I walked to the door and motioned for him to leave.

Well, I got rid of Jerry. But, I could not get rid of his questions – especially the last one. It haunted me day and night for the next few months until I was confronted with THREE BIG LIES that I had been believing.


A man I had been trying to persuade to invest in my business had asked me some very intimidating questions including if I was deceived about myself and what I was doing. Then he had the gall to tell me that Jesus Christ kept him from being deceived. I had kicked the man out of my office, but I couldn’t kick his questions out of my mind.

Then, a few months later, three of my stockholders from New York filed charges against me with the SEC, the IRS initiated an audit of our corporate books, my bank called our line of credit due, my employees all quit and I was evicted from my office in Brooks Towers (because I couldn’t pay the rent).  Within a few weeks I lost everything (including my home and cars) and it looked like I was headed for jail for stock fraud and tax evasion.

A friend had allowed me to move into the basement of his home. As I sat in my friend’s  basement one night, I was in great despair. I had to admit that I had been very deceived about myself. I was faced with the 3 big lies that I had believed.






BIG LIE #1:  I AM THE CENTER OF UNIVERSE. By center, I mean (not the geographic center), but that which is most important – that which should be the object of attention and admiration. I believed and lived as though everything revolved around ME: My dreams, My goals, My achievements, My performance, My health, My success, My problems, My struggles, ME, ME, ME. And the consequence was that I loved no-one except myself

BIG LIE #2: I AM IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE. I believed and lived as though I was the master of my own fate. My motto was “Whatever I can conceive and believe, I can achieve”. And the consequence of this was – that I made a fool of myself, what I “achieved” had no lasting value and it kept me distracted  from what I should have been doing.

BIG LIE #3: I AM NOT REPONSIBLE FOR WHAT I DON’T KNOW ABOUT. The key to understanding this lie is to realize that there are LAWS that we will be held responsible for obeying. However, often, we won’t be held responsible  immediately. We may be able to ignore some laws for a while, but there will come a time when we will have to face them.

For a long time I ignored a lot of traffic laws, I ignored some tax laws, I ignored some SEC Laws and I ignored all of God’s laws. And guess what? I got away with it – for a time. But there came a time when I have had to face the truth and the consequences of ignoring these laws.

My life was built on these lies. Now, by the grace of God, I’m LEARNING to build my life upon some truths.


THE TRUTH IS: God is center of universe. He is the creator, ruler and  sustainer of everything and my life will have purpose only in light of my understanding of who God is and what His purpose is.


THE TRUTH IS: God alone is in control of everything – including my life. I can do nothing apart from Him. I cannot move a muscle or take a breath. My heart cannot beat, my eyes cannot blink. I am totally dependent upon him for everything: especially Direction, Strength, and Truth.

If I seek Him, He will guide me: show me what I should do.

If I seek Him and obey Him, He will empower me: enable me to do what I should do. More important, He will give me the motivation to do what I should do.

If I seek Him and ask Him, He will show me the Truth: The Truth about Himself (who He is, what He has done and What He is saying), He will show me the Truth about me (who I am, what I have done and why – my motives), and He will reveal the Truth about what’s really going on in the world around me.

To seek Him is to acknowledge Him, depend upon Him, and trust Him. I can seek and find Him through prayer, through the scriptures, and through others who know Him.


THE TRUTH IS: I WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for Seeking, Understanding, and Obeying God and others whom God has put in authority over me.

The State and the IRS and the SEC have gone to great expense to make known the traffic and tax and securities laws. They are all written down (the tax laws alone, are over 150,000 pages and they are always changing).

But much more important, God has made very clear what he requires of us (How we are to live. And How it is possible.) And He has written it all down, and it is not 150,000 pages, and it never changes.

AND he has gone to the infinite expense of Sacrificing His Son on the Cross – first, to save us from the condemnation that we all face for disobeying Him; second, to enable us to live for Him and others instead of ourselves; and third, to give us the joy and peace that He created us to have in our relationship with Him – and ALL OF THIS to show forth His glory.

THERE WILL COME A DAY when we will all stand before Him to give an account for how we have lived and we will be held responsible for seeking or ignoring what God has said and done.

And there will be consequences – now and for eternity.

Now, I didn’t see all these things that night in my friend’s basement. All I saw was that I was deceived – especially about these three things. I’ve been learning these truths over the course of many years since that night.

Seeing these truths began the next day when I ended up in the office of another “religious kook”. But this time, I was ready to listen. 


I was scared. Everything that mattered to me had been taken away: my business, my office, my home, my cars, and most of all my belief that I was big shot in control of my life and future. In fact, it now looked like my future, for at least ten years, would be spent in jail for stock fraud and tax evasion.

I found myself in the office of Sven Nylund, a real estate salesman. I was telling him how my life was falling apart. He said in response – “no it isn’t, your life can’t fall apart – because you don’t even know what LIFE is.”

Then he reached across his desk, picked up a Bible, opened it up, and began reading from John 17:3 – he read “THIS IS LIFE, eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

I ignored that and said: “you don’t understand; I could go to prison – I don’t deserve that.”

Sven asked; “Would you like to know what you do deserve?” (I did not answer.)

Then he said; “You deserve to go to hell. You deserve to go to hell because you have ignored God and lived for yourself.”

That got my attention!

Sven then went on to explain that God created us to Know Him; to Love Him; to enjoy and delight in a personal relationship with Him; to honor and glorify and serve Him out of gratitude for His grace and goodness and majesty and provision.

BUT, He pointed out THERE IS A PROBLEM: We were all born separated from God and, as long as we remain separated from Him, our lives here on earth will be spent in either deception or despair. AND we will spend eternity in hell. We are separated from Him because of our sin.

The problem is within us. Our hearts are not right. Our hearts (our desires) crave self protection, self satisfaction, and self glorification. As long as these desires dominate our lives we will have no choice but to live for ourselves and, as a result, fail to love God and others as we were made to. We need to be changed within, we need a new heart!

BUT, Sven said excitedly, there is also a SOLUTION! God gives a new heart (new desires) to those who believe in Jesus Christ. God sent His son to live, die and rise from the dead to pay for our sins, to restore our relationship with Him, and to give us the desire and ability to love Him and others (instead of loving and living for ourselves).

The love of God has provided a way for us to be redeemed and restored to a right relationship with Him. But it is only on His terms: we must come to Him by trusting in His son Jesus Christ. Those who come to Him by faith in Christ are delivered from Hell and instead destined for heaven AND while they remain on earth (those who are redeemed) are given direction for how they should live, power to live the way they should, and the truth that sets them free from the deception and bondage of sin.

That day, over 40 years ago, I was confronted with my sin – not just the lies, lust, and financial deception I was guilty of – but the evil that was deep within me. It was painful. I cried out to God for help and found myself driven to Him. I asked God to Have mercy upon me. I asked Him to forgive me. I committed myself to live for Him instead of myself because of what Christ had done on the cross.

I had no idea of what to expect next. I didn’t realize this was the only the beginning of a process of change that God would be working in me throughout the rest of my life here on this earth.

I’ve heard of people who foolishly say that when they came to faith in Christ that all their problems were solved. That is NOT what happened to me. In fact, I didn’t know what a real problem was until I became a Christian – because I had never before been able to see and face the truth.

I began to realize that true life is not being free from problems, pain, and suffering. On the contrary, true life is experiencing joy and peace in the midst of problems, pain, and suffering. The joy and peace comes from knowing God and His goodness and faithfulness in and through the problems. Even as a baby Christian I began to experience a deep unexplainable peace – I was no longer afraid to face the truth, I no longer had to hide from or seek to escape reality.

And as a new Christian, my desires changed radically. For example, I was given a Bible. Before, the Bible was a boring, confusing book. Now, was alive! Of course it wasn’t just the Bible itself – it was God who was alive in the Bible – and He was revealing Himself and His will for me through the Bible. But, I was shocked at what God was saying. The first thing God said to me as a baby Christian was that I was to accept personal responsibility for all the debts of my corporations. Now this was not the money investors had put into my companies – they all lost all their money. This was debts and bills, my companies had incurred to everyone from accountants and lawyers to banks and credit card companies.

What made this strange was this; before becoming a Christian I had absolutely no intention of paying any of these debts.  These were corporate debts. And any attorney can tell you that one of the main reasons people incorporate is to “escape personal liability”

When I first felt convicted about this, I quickly rationalized that this couldn’t be God speaking – because there was no way I could pay the debts while I was sitting in jail.

Then, to my surprise, the SEC charges were dropped on a technicality (even though I was quilty) and the IRS decided not to proceed with the audit. I was left with no excuse.

Now, I had to decide if I would actually obey God and pay these debts.

I decided I would do it – I would pay the debts! But, my decision and commitment was pretty shallow. My thinking was that if I agreed to do this noble thing – then God would provide the money out of cloud nine. I soon found I was wrong. His plan was for me to learn to WORK.


I had become a “Christian”. I had come to believe that Christ had died for my sins and lived a life of perfect righteousness that made it possible for me to “know God”. I was learning to pray to God and to hear His voice – especially through the words of the Bible. But I didn’t always like what God was saying!

One of the first things God said to me as a baby Christian (at the age of 27) was that I was to accept personal responsibility for debts that my corporations had incurred before they were all closed down.

When I agreed with God to pay the debts, I nievely thought that my good intentions would mean that He would somehow miraculously provide the money out of “cloud nine”.

I also had a backup plan in case God did not come through. I would go out and get some high-paying executive position and pay off the debts in a few months – and become a “big deal for God” in the process

Well, I waited for several weeks after agreeing to pay the debts. I didn’t even see cloud two.

SO, I decided it was time for my backup plan.

Fiirst, I made a list of a half dozen key contacts I had. These were all men in top executive positions (men who I had not solicited to invest in my companies that went under). And these were all Men who I thought were impressed with me. And they were all in a position to give me the kind of job – (that is income) that I needed to pay off the debts.

SO, I began calling these men and scheduling appointments to meet with them. The first man I met with was quite polite, he simply said they did not have any openings.

BUT each meeting got progressively worse –until toward the end of the week I had the fifth meeting. When this man found out what I wanted; he slammed his fist on his desk and screamed ” I WOULD NEVER HIRE YOU; AND I’LL MAKE SURE NOBODY I KNOW WILL EITHER.”

Remember!  These are the men who were impressed with me – I thought. These “interviews” were a sober reminder of how deceived I had been about myself.

But, I still had hope – I had saved the best for the last. It was Sven, the real estate salesman who had led me to the Lord. I thought he would have to give me a job; after all, he helped get me into this. Sven, it turned out, was Vice President of Van Schaack – the largest privately owned Real Estate firm in Denver at that time.

So I called him and we met at ABE’s restaurant in downtown Littleton, Colorado. I explained proudly how I was going to obey God and pay off these debts even though I didn’t have to! I pointed out that I would need to earn a lot of money to be able to pay off the debts – and how real estate might be a place I could do that.

Sven held up his hand to stop me from talking and he leaned forward and whispered  “You don’t need a job  – you need work”.

I said “what?”

He repeated, (this time shouting) “You don’t need a job  – you need WORK”!

Then he went on to say “I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll provide the funds to set you up in a new business”.

Well, I thought to myself, “This is more like it.”

Sven then paid for breakfast and asked me to come with him. We got in his car and drove to a nearby grocery store where we went in and he purchased a large bottle of ammonia, a box of stainless steel sponges, and a package of paper towels. (I didn’t realize this represented the funds he was providing to set me up in a new business.)

Then, we got back in the car and drove to residential area west of Denver. He parked the car on a side street and announced “here we are.”

I asked: “Where are we?”

He said “This is the location of your new business.”

Bewildered, I said; “Really, what’s my new business?”

He said “Cleaning ovens, door to door.”  And then he went on to explain in detail what he expected me to do.

I was quite offended. I reminded him I was an accountant, a corporate executive, I told him I‘d never cleaned an oven in my life!

He said “that’s good, you won’t have any bad habits.” Then he reminded me of all the business accomplishments that I had been bragging about over breakfast. He said, “This ought to be easy for you. Surely, if you can sell a business executive on investing thousands of dollars, certainly you can sell a homeowner a $10 service.”

Well, quite reluctantly,I got out of the car with the bag of ammonia, steel sponges, and paper towels. Sven then shouted out the window that he would be back in 6 hours at the same corner to pick me up. And he handed me a piece of paper with a Bible verse he had written on it. It  said “If anyone is not willing to work, neither does he deserve to eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10. I stood there on the street staring at this as my Sven drove off.

It was cold – about 5 degrees out with a foot of snow on the ground. I thought about what Sven had said – about how this should be easy for me. So, I turned into the cold blowing wind to start up the street.

I stopped and outlined a quick “sales pitch” which I thought was quite powerful and persuasive.

Then, I began knocking on doors. For two hours I went up and down several streets knocking on doors. I usually didn’t get to use my persuasive sales pitch. And when I did it was always rejected.

By this time I ws so cold I could hardly move my hands. I noticed a restaurant a couple of blocks away and headed for it. I only had enough money for a cup of coffee and an order of toast.

As I sipped the coffee I pulled out a new testament I had in my pocket.

First, I looked up 2 Thessalonians 3:10 to make sure it really was in the Bible. It was!

Then, I began reading Matthew 20 where Jesus disciples were seeking how to be “great” in the kingdom of God.. What Jesus said to his disciples hit me like a lightening bolt. He said: “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”

“BE A SERVANT!” These were the words that hit me.

I finished my coffee and headed back to the street. I stopped on a street corner and prayed, “Oh God, please show me how to be a servant”.

Then, with a completely different focus, I again began knocking in doors. Instead of attacking people with my sales pitch, I found myself asking questions and showing a genuine interest in the people and (believe it or not) in the condition of their ovens.

I usually started by asking if they had a “self-cleaning” oven (in those days, most did not). If they DID NOT have a self-cleaning oven, I would ASK them when was the last time their oven had been cleaned. Then, often, these ladies (once in a while, a man) would begin telling about how filthy their oven was and how much they hated cleaning it. If they said this, I would say “those are the kind I like!”

In the next three hours, I cleaned 4 ovens and made $50 including a couple of tips. All because I began to focus on how I could genuinely be of service – instead of trying to persuade people to buy.

 I cleaned ovens for about 3 months. During this time, I found myself counseling some friends who were struggling with their businesses. I found that my failures uniquely equipped me to help others to avoid many of the mistakes I had made. This was the beginning of my consulting business – which I’ve now been doing for over 40 years.