You should do this. You should do that. I can’t believe you eat that. If you’d just do this, you wouldn’t have that problem. Do what I do and then you, too, can be perfect. Maybe they don’t use those exact words, but that’s the feeling you get.
We’re all bombarded by advice and people who downright tell us what to do, whether it’s on the phone, in person or on our Facebook wall. Add in magazine articles, books and websites and it can get confusing. But more than that, it can cause us to get into a cycle of guilt and performance to please others.
Hey, I’m all for self-improvement. I strongly believe in lifelong learning and I’ve worked hard to instill that in my children. We should learn all we can and seek knowledge and wisdom when we have a problem or puzzling situation.
But take care not to hand all the authority to someone else. You know your family. You have your own relationship with God (and it is a relationship, not a set of rules). You have strengths and a personality that was designed by God. He’s not mad at you and He’s having a good day.
Take what you can use for your family and spit out the bones. Some things won’t ring true and that’s okay, you can choose to say no.
As a bank teller many years ago, I handled lots of money. After touching and feeling thousands of bills, I could immediately detect an odd-feeling dollar bill, such as a brand-new bill with stiff paper.
In the same way, if you fill yourself up with truth and handle truth daily, your truth-o-meter will flash when you encounter an odd-feeling piece of advice. The best place I know to get truth is that great success book, the Bible, in addition to asking people with credibility and good fruit in their lives.
In other words, if you’re looking for marriage advice, don’t ask the friend who complains about her husband all the time. If you want advice about your child, don’t ask the person who talks negatively about her kids on the phone while they’re listening in their car seats.
Ask yourself: Has this person earned the right to speak into my life? If they are a stranger or vague acquaintance on Facebook, the answer is no. If they are a close relative, maybe. Deduct points for an attempt to control or disrespect for your choices for your family.
John Maxwell said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” In other words, sometimes the truth you encounter will make you mad or uncomfortable at first. If you’ve asked for advice and the same idea keeps coming back around you probably ought to listen.
But don’t put yourself under influences that constantly make you feel guilty and inadequate. Distinguish whether they’re speaking truth and you’re heaping guilt upon yourself or whether it’s just advice that doesn’t apply to you and your family. If it’s something you do need to change, dump the guilt, preach the Gospel to yourself and get on with it.
Remember that people who feel compelled to give their opinion and tell everyone The One True Way about food, childrearing and everything else are probably insecure about their own beliefs. Wisdom has a quiet confidence, proven in living out truth.
Keep learning. Ask questions. Listen to those who have done what you want to do. You won’t always make perfect choices and that’s okay, just be sure to learn from the mistakes and move on. Be wise about who gets authority in your life. Listen to your husband’s opinion.
Take my advice and take care when taking advice.
What’s YOUR advice on taking advice?