Evaluate Advice: Not All is Equal
Lots of people are willing to give advice, even when not asked for. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, sometimes it’s exactly what you need to hear, and sometimes it really makes you wonder about the person giving it. I wouldn’t be so bold as to assume what advice may or may not be good for your particular circumstances at any particular time, but I would put forth this proposition: it matters WHO gives it.
I further wouldn’t be so bold as to assume that you should automatically discount any advice, because there are times God brings even absolute strangers into our lives to speak great wisdom. But I do think advice should be measured and evaluated.
Let me share a little story. Way back in our marriage, we hit a rough patch (as most married couples do). We were moments away from separating when we chose to fight for our marriage instead. But an interesting thing was discovered once we began talking and sharing information. We had a mutual (Christian) friend, at that time thought of as a good friend, who had been simultaneously telling each of us what we seemingly wanted to hear about the other and how ‘bad’ they were. Her advice was to separate and divorce.
We clearly did not take that advice. We’ve certainly speculated about her reasons, and whether there was some ulterior motive or if she was just clouded (or in a way, defensive) about her own situation as a divorcee. Whatever the reason, her advice was suspect.
Advice should be evaluated, not just blindly accepted.
But how to evaluate?
I would say in three ways:
- How long has the person known you? This isn’t to completely discount any advice, but those who don’t know you as well, or for as long, don’t necessarily have the perspective.
- Other advice from other people. How does it measure up? There is a reason Scriptures such as Proverbs 24:6 speak of the wisdom of having multiple counselors to get advice from. The effects of other motives can be tempered with multiple counselors. [And the bigger the issue, the more advice you should get.]
- Ultimately, how does the advice measure up to Scripture itself? Is the advice moving you toward the actual best you (as opposed to the what-itching-ears-want-to-hear you, or even worse, in complete opposition to Scripture)?
Evaluate the advice. Even the advice in this post.
Lots of people are willing to give advice, even when not asked for. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, sometimes it’s exactly what you need to hear, and sometimes it really makes you wonder about the person giving it. I wouldn’t be so bold as to assume what advice may or may not…