Proverbs 27: 5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Most generally, the folks I know like to fix things. If somethings broke, just fix it! Right? Yes…to an extent. Sometimes we try too hard to fix something that will take more than simple remedial work. For instance, say you have a good friend who struggles with a problem that they’re ashamed to admit to someone else. Maybe they came to you. First and foremost you should feel honored. But, at the same time you should feel humbled. You’ve been given a great responsibility to help someone through a difficult time. What steps should you take? What advice should you give? First, make sure that the person who is talking to you is actually soliciting advice. He or she may just want you to listen and be a good friend, seeking instead understanding, empathy, and compassion. Don't assume that everyone wants advice. You may have some insight into the problem(s), but you really need to listen attentively to a person first for a very long time to understand the situation. If, and only if, your friend actually ASKS for advice should you then furnish it. Make sure you’re willing to listen. Every situation is unique, so never assume you know all you need to know about a problem. Listen carefully to the person who wants advice, and learn as much as possible about this situation. If you need clarification, ask questions. Being an active listener will not only help you give good advice, it will also increase the chances that the person will take your advice. Secondly, put yourself in that person’s shoes. Try to imagine yourself in the other person's situation. If you've been in a similar situation, think about what you learned, but don't rely solely on your experiences to give advice--imagine that you are giving yourself advice for the unique circumstances that the other person is facing. While you're at it, think about the consequences of not taking your advice. If there's no significant difference between the results of those two scenarios, your advice might not be bad, but it's not useful either. The same thing is true if the action you advise is impossible. Sometimes when we wish to help another person we give advice so as to move them forward. Make sure the advice you give brings them closer to Christ Jesus. It’s possible they need to reverse their actions so as to see how God can use them for His glory later on.
Have a blessed day, and remember the One who gave it to you! Kevin
Kevin Lough is the minister at the Whitehall Church of Christ in Fairmont WV.