4 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Give That Advice

I had a problem. I called up a friend and in the midst of our chatting I determined to act on the words of Proverbs 12:15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” I asked for her advice.

But her words took me by surprise: “I don’t think I have wise counsel to offer about that.”

How often do we hear about asking for advice, seeking counsel, and being humble enough to listen to the wisdom of others?

At the same time, we tend to learn very little about giving advice or wise counsel!

Few of us have been encouraged to be humble like my dear friend was, saying “I don’t have wisdom about that.” God’s word is clear that we’re to exhort, challenge, encourage, and support one another. Sometimes that means keeping what you consider “advice” to yourself.

So, before you share that advice, ask yourself: Click To Tweet

1. Is this fact or opinion?

In 1 Timothy 6 and 2 Timothy 2 we are admonished to rightly handle the truth and to avoid “babbling” about false knowledge.

Some matters are open to interpretation. When you present your opinion, make it clear that you’re not stating facts. Be honest that your words and knowledge are your own and that you might be wrong. Seasoned speech leaves room for God to overrule.

2. Is this about me?

You know the verse: “why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matthew 7:3). These words aren’t just about criticism. Before you give advice, figure out if the “wisdom” you share is borne out of hypocrisy or a part of you projecting your own issues onto someone else.

3. Am I qualified to give this advice?

Back to 1 Timothy (a letter rich in wisdom about words, advice, and relationships!). The first chapter alone mentions

  • Speculation rather than stewardship
  • Vain discussion
  • Failing to understand “either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.”

Would any advice you have to offer fall under one of those categories? If so, point to the Word of God or to those with more experience in the matter.

4. Is this helpful?

If your advice is vague, non-committal, or a lot like thinking out loud, ask yourself if you might be speaking empty words (Matthew 12:36).

There may be other words, apart from advice, that would be more meaningful. Try sharing a verse, a prayer, or speaking as a friend instead of as a counselor.

Helpful Flyer with info about advice and speaking Biblically into other's lives.

{Originally published on My Faith Radio}

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12 Replies to “4 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Give That Advice

  1. I’m glad your friend had the wisdom and humility to admit that she didn’t have advice to give. It’s easy to feel like we have to say something because we want to help, but often the most helpful thing is just for the person to feel listened to and that someone cares. The questions you’ve come up with to ask ourselves are helpful.

    1. Thanks, Lesley! I’m thankful for my friends’ response too- and for what she taught me about advice. You’re so right, just ensuring someone is listened to and cared for can be way more helpful!

  2. Wonderful thoughts on sharing advice. A Christian counselor once told me, if its not from God, if the Holy Spirit is not guiding me, its not my place to offer advice unless asked. Of course the conversation was a bit deeper than these few words but it really helped me pray through the times when I had the urge to advise a friend or sister-in-Christ. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi again Bethany! LOVE this post! I’ve been contemplating this very issue lately as I feel a responsibility to deliver God’s advice, NOT mine, on my brand new blog! I love your 4 tips and will keep them with me on my blogging journey! Such wise words!

    Thanks again for all of your support for my new blog! I’m having fun exchanging comments and visits!

    1. Allison- Thank you! I’ve been blogging for years and I am ever contemplating this. Must be His words, for His goals, to His glory! Loving getting to know you through your blog too : )

  4. Your friend was wise to say what she did (unless she was too worried about not getting it just right). Usually when I’m asked for advice, even if I’m not sure what to say, I try to give SOME advice even as I say, “I’m not sure if this is good advice,” but it’s good to realize I might not need to give any advice at all!

    1. Same, Heather! I always think I should be able to offer something. It’s been freeing to realize sometimes it’s okay to say I don’t know and be there for someone anyway!

  5. I am amazed that someone when asked for advice was open and honest that they didn’t have any to give. I love your points on giving advice. The other day I was prepped and ready to give advice but instead asked questions. The results were amazing. Many times when asked for advice I try to preface with, “this is what worked for us but it might not for you.” Every person and situation is so unique.

    1. My friend’s pretty swell like that : ) Also- yes- like you just said, sometimes asking questions is far more helpful. And being humble by sharing but prefacing that you are only speaking from your own experience. Thanks for sharing that wisdom!

  6. Well, your friend may not have had any wise counsel for your particular situation, but she certainly did for us! Thanks for sharing that. And thanks for your questions to help filter through to see if I have wise counsel about a situation I’m invited–or tempted–to speak into.

    1. Agreed! Chatting with her recently I told her to come read these comments. We had this conversation years ago and the wisdom keeps on : ) Thanks for your encouragement- I hope the questions are as practical for you as they are for me!

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