Give No Advice

July 7, 2022 0 Comments

As you begin to read this article, appreciate the contradiction. How can I write an article titled, “Give No Advice,” without appearing to give advice about that subject? I can’t. Wow, this was the shortest article that I have written.

How about a proposition, an assertion of my opinion, with a couple of examples to support that opinion? So, unless you are an expert in a particular subject, trained, in possession of degrees or certificates that attest to that training, and you have practical experience, I suggest that, “You should give no advice outside of that subject area.” This is legal low risk guidance. But, you might have legitimately useful advice for others even though you don’t have any fancy training and certificates.

Writing about this subject is therapy for me. I struggle with the idea of not advising grown members of my family, my friends, and (everyone else, like readers of my articles). I want all of you to benefit from my experiences. Sadly, I have learned that my noble intent does not often produce a predictable result. My giving advice or suggestions to family and friends (on moral issues, finances, jobs, and raising family) have fallen short or even backfired. It makes me feel as though I did something wrong, that I am culpable in a miserable outcome. Perhaps I should not have given the advice in the first place.

A saying in the U.S. Army: “If you break it, you own it.” In this instance, by giving advice that someone else used, I somehow own the breakage that occurs, even though I warned them that “this is your decision.” Do you see that giving advice is a conundrum, a difficult endeavor. Why is that? Simple answer: Adults, even those who are close to you, must make their own decisions, and they make them based on their current age and level of experience.

They tend to get their advice by peer association. If you are older, and even if they agree that you are wise, your advice sounds to them like “the answer,” and they may take your advice and use it without understanding it. That is why it is your fault (in their mind) if your advice does not work for them. Someone you love may actually tell you, “You gave me bad advice,” which means, “You’re advice sucks, man!” Ouch! All you wanted to do was help them.

Web search Colossians 2:4-15. The Christian Apostle Paul, in a Roman prison, received word from a member of one of the Christian Churches, that Paul founded, that “the membership is well-ordered, but those who would deceive the Christians are also there.” By letter, Paul guided the Christians, saying, “He is with them in spirit, if not in body (because he is in prison).” He reminded them of the big picture (they were saved by their faith in Jesus Christ), that there is no other authority in Heaven or on Earth (Matthew 28:18).

So, give no advice. Identify authority and accountability under that authority. With that said, any individual should understand what (big picture) is the right thing to do and why. Advice is all about how to do something, and the how varies. It is not your business to counsel another person on how anything is done.

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