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Affliction to Give Advice

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."1

I remember years ago a friend talking about some people being "cursed with the affliction to give advice." At the time it sounded strange to me as I had no idea what he meant. Now I understand.

According to Webster's Dictionary, people "offering ... unwanted [unsolicited] advice or services" are officious. They can also be obnoxious. Unwanted or unsolicited advice can be a put-down and can be a thinly veiled criticism. It also implies that I know better than you regarding your situation.

I'm not talking about going to a lawyer, an accountant, a car mechanic, or whatever, where we need and ask for professional advice. What I'm talking about is when we share our struggles and feelings with a friend and they have a compulsion to tell us what we should or shouldn't do. They are putting us down in that they assume that they know the answer to our situation and needs better than we know them ourselves.

Other people have a compulsion to tell you simple things like how to shine your shoes, how to sweep the floor, and how to do a myriad of other things that are obvious to all, assuming that you aren't as knowledgeable or as smart as they are. They treat adults like a mother treats a small child! As the saying goes, "they come on parent." They also make people angry.

Even when some people want advice in their personal life, it is a much wiser not to give it, but to help them see what their options are and determine their own solutions. As long as I "come on parent" to others, advising them what they should or shouldn't do, it may inflate my weak ego and make me feel important (falsely so), but it keeps others over-dependent on me and immature. It can also play the part of God and the Holy Spirit in other people's lives!

A good counselor doesn't tell people what they should or shouldn't do. He/she helps his/her clients to face reality (to see the truth first about themselves and then about the situation they are in) and decide for themselves what they need to do.

What I want from a friend when I am feeling in the pits, is someone to listen to me with their heart, to give me their presence, and accept me as I am—and in so doing communicate to me that they care. On such occasions I don't want or need advice, unsolicited or otherwise.

In other words I want friends who rejoice with me when I rejoice and weep with me when I weep. If you have such friends, cherish them forever. They are rare jewels.

Suggested prayer, "Thank you Lord Jesus that You are friends of sinners such as I. Help me to be such a friend to others. Help me not to be officious and give unsolicited advice, but always in all ways be as Jesus to every life I touch—always for Your glory, not mine. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. Romans 12:15 (NKJV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.