Yesterday, my wife and I were sitting around talking about how a friend of ours should change his course of action and improve upon what he was doing. We each had a critique of the method with which he was trying to accomplish what he was trying to accomplish.
Two weeks ago, I sat around with my good friend, David Poston, and we determined several ways that people operating within the ministry to which we are both so innately connected, Bible Quiz, could run better tournaments or have better teams. We had some tidbits that I think many people would love to know. We had ideas that would lead us to the top of the heap. We hypothesized about how it would be slightly better if this thing or that thing were altered slightly.
My children were speaking with me a week ago about how they thought I could do better at a few things. They were correcting something I was doing and informing me that if only I would do it their way, I would have greater success. They are apparently knowledgeable about a way I can become the best me I can be.
I received a call the other day from a man, who apparently calls people like me for a living. He told me that my business would run better if I paid him a lot of money and he told me what it was. Try as I might to get him to tell me what he knew that I did not, he was unwilling to tell me what I needed to know.
Now, you may have experienced many situations like this or may think that I am the sole possessor of circumstances like unto these, but I believe we have all been in situations where someone on the outside has knowledge that would benefit someone on the inside. Even something as simple as a movie where we are the audience and we have information that could benefit the characters can exemplify a knowledge from the outside.
Now, why do we care? First, as the person who is getting the correction, we should take heed. To quote Baz Luhrman, “Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it for nothing.” These little corrections on the way can sometimes make our lives so much better. I can not tell you the number of times someone has made a quick comment to me that ended up making my life infinitely easier.
On the other side of the matter, when we are giving advice, I believe approaching it with a spirit of humility will take you further. In the examples given above, you can probably see some examples where you think the advice should be taken and others where it could be completely ignored. Approaching the situation with the proper decorum is important.
Finally, I think the important thing to remember is that the decision is not with the person giving the advice. God, in His Sovereignty, put the person in position to make the decision as the person in question. Whatever advice we give, we must understand that it is merely advice. Supporting someone who looks at our advice and comes to the opposite conclusion is the test of true friendship.
Similarly, we cannot weasel out of a decision, merely because someone gave us advice. God, in His Sovereignty, put us in position to make the decision. Take responsibility for the things you need to make decisions for. They may be incorrect and we may regret them, but blame shifting is never a good idea. Take responsibility for your actions, and the world will be a better place!