How many times have you heard someone say that to you? Ah, yes, everyone has some advice to share. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants to give you a piece of their mind. Everyone is an expert in an area where they think you’re deficient.
I remember going through comment cards at the end of a long week of youth camp. I’d read one card that would say the food was excellent. Just a couple of cards later some “expert” would share how terrible the food was, and how it could be improved. One would say they loved the evangelist; another would give their “advice” on where the evangelist missed it.
Whom should I listen to? Who should get my ear?
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius gives this counsel to Laertes “Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice: Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”
Nice prose, but how do we live it out? I like the example I see from a man named Jethro in the Bible. Jethro is Moses’ father-in-law, and he really only appears on the scene in just one chapter (Exodus 18), but his method of giving advice should be a model for us all.
Credentials – Jethro was a God-fearing man. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, weigh carefully the advice given to you by those who don’t have the same biblical foundation.
Relationship – Jethro had a personal relationship with Moses, he wasn’t just a business acquaintance. That means Jethro had a vested interest in Moses’ success or failure.
Firsthand – Jethro heard about what was happening, but he came to see it for himself. Beware of those “expert” who only have secondhand information about you or your situation.
Up-Close – Jethro spend an entire day right by Moses’ side just watching and listening. He saw what was going on from the front row.
Questions – Jethro led with questions, not with advice. Before giving Moses his opinion, Jethro asked clarifying questions.
Wisdom – Only after all of this did Jethro give his opinion to Moses. The words that he shared were then received by Moses as God-given wisdom.
Your counselors should earn the right to be heard. Just because someone has an opinion doesn’t make him an expert. And just because someone has been-there-done-that doesn’t mean that her way should be your way.
Screen out the clamoring voices by making sure they have credentials, a relationship with you, firsthand experience, and godly wisdom.