Skip to main content

Unrequested Advice is Criticism, but Truthful Confrontation is Loving

I don't remember where I first heard it (a quick web search suggests it may date back as far as George Washington), but somewhere I picked up the idea that:

Unasked for advice is heard as criticism.

Even though I didn't ask for it, this was good advice. Who doesn't understand the pain of listening to someone give you unrequested (and sometimes unnecessary) advice. I remember a fellow once coming to "visit" with me only to leave an hour later having spent the entire time unpacking my many shortcomings. While some of his critiques may have been on target, our relationship and the setting certainly didn't merit such behavior.

So I've really tried to take this idea to heart. I've worked hard to be someone who listens as people unpack their problems, but not to offer up my solutions unless asked for.

Of course, the reverse of this is not true. I need to be careful to not ignore advice just because I didn't ask for it. In fact, Proverbs says:

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

So, there needs to be a balance. James seems to have it right when he says:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...

I don't know about you, but sometimes it's that unasked for advice that can get me on the fast track toward anger. Sometimes, it seems like people offer up suggestions that seem to imply I am a total idiot. It's hard in those moments to be "slow to speak and slow to become angry." But that's probably why James says:

for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.




Doh! If I can't be slow to speak and slow to anger, I can't live the righteous life that God desires. So my natural tendencies need to be brought under discipline. I am usually slow to listen because I want to talk. I need to reverse that.

BUT... here's where the dilemma comes in. James finishes his book by saying:

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

So, there is a time to give that unasked for advice. There is a time to "confront". And as hard as that is, I have to recognize it as a part of being not just a pastor, but of being a Christian brother. Of course, being quick to listen and slow to speak means I don't rush into confrontation.

Rather it means I do so having measured the situation carefully, having listened to all parties to gain clarity and understanding.

Over time, I've formulated some guidelines for when to "confront" and when to "sit back". Here's my thoughts:
1) Confront when you are certain a clear Biblical teaching is being contradicted. 
2) In such a case, use the Bible to confront, not your own words. 
3) Always present your "case" in humility, acknowledging your perceptions and seeking to "see the best" if possible. 
4) Remember Paul's instructions to protect the unity of the body in all things. 
5) Remember that love is the standard by which all else is to be judged. If you cannot lovingly confront, you shouldn't confront. 
6) Offer thoughts for resolution. If you don't sense your confrontation will lead to restoration/resolution, wait. 
7) Pray before, during, and after.
I'm sure there are a lot more ideas out there. I'd love to hear them.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Inability of Metaphors and Similes to Describe the Church

The difference between a metaphor and a simile is the word "like."   (that's perhaps overly simplistic, but useful: Metaphor: You're a Dog. Simile: You're like a Dog. Of course, neither a metaphor nor a simile really does a good job of  proclaiming reality: You aren't a Dog. Often times, Jesus and His friends used metaphors and similes to  describe the church. Some of them would be: The church is (like a) house The church is (like a) family The church is (like a) body The church is (like a) temple All of these are useful for helping us understand some nature or  function of the church, but none of them are terribly effective as a  comprehensive description of the reality of the church: The church is not a house The church is not a family The church is not a body The church is not a temple The church is the church. It is completely different than any other  organism/organization known to man. It is a spiritually-joined,  mis

I Shall Have My Revenge

I shall have my revenge I'm not sure I have the quote exactly right, but in the movie Gladiator , Russell Crowe's character says something to the effect of, "I am husband to a murdered wife, father to a murdered son and I shall have my revenge in this life or the next. " I am typically not a big fan of vengeance. It's not usually a wise course of action. However, yesterday this quote came to mind while I was delivering some money to a friend (wisdom side note: never loan money to a friend. Give it to them. If they pay you back, you still have your money but if they don't you still ave your friend ). I thought to myself, "the person who is giving this gift isn't expecting to be paid back, but they will be… In this life or the next. In This Life or the Next Sometimes we live as if we only believe in this life. We make no provisions or plans for the next life. Sometimes we are so focused on taking care of ourselves

How I'm Going To End the Creation - Evolution Debate

You may or may not be aware that coffee has a very quick “mold-creation” rate.  If you leave a cup of coffee sitting out for too long, it will quickly begin to develop mold spores.  In fact, I would imagine, that in just a week or two a mug of coffee would develop a bog-like surface if left alone. Therefore. I’m placing a full mug of coffee in a secluded room where it will be undisturbed.  I’m also leaving instructions in my will that in 100 years, my grandchildren are to go into that room and document the lives of all the mold creatures that have come to life. That’ll show those silly creationists.