I’ve received some awful advice in my day.
But I’ve also received pearls from places I expected little worth. Or at times when I planned to scale my mountain alone.
These days you can’t assume where God wants to speak to you. Most of the time you don’t want to hear from anyone else, it’s an indication you most need to hear what that person has to say. It might be a hint God is using to corral you back in.
It’s one of the surest indicators your life has lost direction when you won’t listen to anyone else.
Either way, a mature Christian wants to hear advice. And when he gets it, he channels it into his spiritual growth.
How to Grow When People Give You Advice
1. Let the person talk and listen carefully.
Give them an ear. Don’t shut the advice down or tune it out. You can only learn if you listen to what people have to say. Never let yourself be in a mood or place in life where you have no patience for others’ opinions. Even if you hate their advice. It is the surest, most directly correlational test of your immaturity to not what to listen to what you don’t like.
What is it really going to hurt to listen? You never know; you might hear something.
2. Listen for anything wise that may be present in the advice, even if you don’t initially plan on taking it.
My goal is to be constantly growing, so even if I think I’m not going to take the person’s advice, I still try to catch anything I can of wisdom in what the person is saying. Then I apply it to my life or increase my understanding in whatever way it fits. I don’t see it as a sign from God that they’ve spoken. But I seek value in what is said.
Proverbs 3.13 says,
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,
Sometimes you don’t have to find wisdom yourself. Hear it in what others bring to you and it’ll make the job easier. You’ve got a screening process that’s identified something someone else already thinks is of worth. Many times I’ve been turned switched perspectives after hearing the logic behind a decision I was not initially going to take.
3. Don’t feel threatened or respond defensively.
The person is giving you his or her best. If she wants to advise you, don’t feel intimidated. Your self-worth and independence aren’t on the line. Proverbs 15.22 says,
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
The best of the best don’t just listen to advice, they seek it out. Isn’t that what you want to be?
4. Don’t avoid people’s advice when you think they will disagree with you.
If you surround yourself with yes men, you never grow. You’ll rob yourself of the perspective that allows people to see the wisdom they haven’t considered yet. Just because you ask a person’s advice doesn’t mean you have to take it. But iron always sharpens iron better when it’s not running over the same ruts.
5. Thank the person for his or her advice and for thinking of you.
You always gain points with people when you are civil to them. And the worse the advice, the more points you gain with yourself for doing it. All that really matters (besides the other person) is your growth. Not your ego. Not your reputation. So tell the person how grateful you are for the advice, even if it’s awful.
Remember, they’ve shared it because they care about you and it matters to them deeply. You can return the favor.
6. Respect the relationship.
99 times out 100 the relationship will outlive the advice, so start with the end in mind and build a relationship with a person when responding to what they have to say.
7. Seek the Word of God for direction.
Check whatever the person has said against the Word of God before accepting or rejecting the advice. Don’t skip this step because you already know best. Taking it ensures you’ve really internalized the advice and allowed God to speak to you before moving on.
8. Ask another wise person.
Bring up the subject with someone you trust, without throwing the other person under the bus. You may be surprised that you’ve overlooked something you wouldn’t have noticed if you haven’t asked a second opinion. Or you’ll receive confirmation the advice isn’t for you.
9. Take the freedom to completely reject the advice you’ve been given.
This is one of the most important points. Realizing it’s completely your decision can help you utilize all the other points with freedom and without fear of losing control.
Don’t let yourself be controlled or intimidated into making a decision you don’t think is right because you’re worried how another person will respond. And don’t blame anyone for what happens if you take it. Counselors are pointless if you have to automatically do what the say. Ultimately, you are the person who’s responsible. Your goal is to get advice, then make your own decision. People should respect that. Anyone who gets bent out of shape by what you choose probably shouldn’t be giving advice in the first place.
If you follow these tips you’ll find your plans, as well as your wisdom, are well on their way to succeed. But most importantly, you will grow in the process.