We’ve all been faced with times in our lives when it seems like everybody is happy to offer us the ‘gift’ of their advice! This can cover pretty much everything about your life from your career, who you date, when you should marry, where you should live, how to earn more money…the list goes on and on.
But how do you tell the difference between good advice and bad advice?
The truth is that we all need people in our lives who we can bounce ideas off and get some fresh perspective. It can be incredibly helpful to have a listening ear which hears our dilemma’s, probes our thinking and gently challenges our actions. However it’s never wise to have too many of these people. There’s an old saying which says that ‘too many chef’s spoil the broth’. Having multiple advisors offering you a wide range of views and opinions can do far more harm than good, causing you confusion, stress, pressure and generally adding to your troubles.
So back to the question. How do you know if someone is offering you good or bad advice? Here are two key questions which are always wise to consider before taking it on board:
1) What is this person’s track record?
Before taking on board a persons fine advice, this is always a wise question to pragmatically ask yourself. What has this person actually built in life? What have they achieved? How has this kind of advice worked for them – and would you be content to become like that? Are they faithful & loyal or gossipy & backbiting? Is their outlook on life faith-filled & optimistic or negative & pessimistic? Do they show consistency in life or do they flit from one thing to another? Do they have an established track record of being firmly planted in a local church for a significant length of time? Would you be happy for your life to emulate theirs? Remember, a person’s track record IS their statement – far more than their fine words. So it is completely reasonable to consider a person’s track record before taking their advice on board.
2) Will this advice bring you closer to God & His house?
This is an incredibly important question which we should always want to consider and yet so many people neglect to ask. Does the advice encourage your carnality or stir you to pursue God’s purpose? Does it draw you closer to God & his house or will it drive you away (the latter is always the surest sign of bad advice). Is it focussed on self interest or does it have an eye toward eternity? There’s nothing wrong with ambition. In fact, it’s good to be ambitious. But when fulfilling it comes at the expense of being planted and rooted in a good local church, the irony is that it always ends up becoming unfulfilling and disappointing – no-matter how ‘successful’ a person becomes. Remember this: good jobs are EASY to find. Good church communities are not. So, where will this advice lead you?
Finally, in the midst of all the advice you’re offered in life, what about seeking the guidance of the ONE who really matters? He’s described in Isaiah 9:6 as ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ When you pray, don’t spend all your time telling God what you think. Take time to ask him what HE thinks. Listen out for the answer. This is the best advice you’ll ever hear.