The more I have delved into the worlds of ministry and homeschooling, the more I have seen a certain truth reveal itself: What works for you just might not work for me.
We love to give advice. When someone has a problem, we are quick to share the perfect solution. After all, it worked perfectly for me. Doesn’t that mean it will work perfectly for everyone?
What we forget is that we are not a one-size-fits-all people. We are unique by design. As a result, one solution will not fit every single one of us. In fact, very often one solution will fit, well, one of us.
That produces quite the conundrum. If what works for me very likely will not work for you (and vice versa), then I suppose we can never help one another!
Fortunately, that supposition is far from true. We can help one another. We just have to know how.
As we dole out “helpful” advice, the most important thing to remember is that all situations are different. That realization needs to form the foundation for all advice that we give.
So, what do we do with this realization? How can it truly shape the advice we give? Here are some tips I have learned:
Explain why it works for me.
Each time I write a review, I try to start with a little “insider” information, allowing readers to discern how their situation or personality might differ from mine. They can then make mental adjustments as they read. This can just as easily be accomplished with spoken and informal advice.
Learn to pay attention to how the recipient of the advice is different.
I have learned just how important it is to be personal and relational, getting to know people before I dish out advice. Only then can I clearly see the ways in which what works for me needs to be adjusted before the advice can be useful to the recipient.
Don’t take it personally when advice is not taken or does not work.
I am still learning to repeat to myself, “What works for me might not work for her.”
But, there is another side to all of this. There is the receiving end. Though many of us prefer to give advice than to receive it, we are often are in need of what others have to share. So, how can we receive help with both wisdom and grace?
Do not take advice at face value.
No successes are accomplished simply by formula – there are always other, often unnoticed, factors involved. What other factors were involved in your friend’s success story? How do those factors relate to your situation? What changes might you need to make to act on the advice you are given?
Determine to prayerfully consider the advice given.
Often we listen with a smile on our faces, respond that it sounds like a good idea, and walk away with no intention of actually following through with the advice. Why? Because we all have that tinge of pride, be it ever so small, that makes us shy away from acting on the advice of others.
We may or may not actually use the advice, but let’s not allow pride to be the reason. Let it be because it really won’t work for us. Prayerfully consider. Hold it up to Scripture. Be willing to consider.
We are a community, whether we like it or not. A community helps. May 2015 be a year in which we both give and receive with more grace, wisdom, and discernment!