The Dangers of Unsolicited Advice

Anonymous asked:

So I have this really good friend in Christ, and recently I found out he is interested in this girl from our school. He doesn’t know much about her, but I know that she isn’t a Christian, sleeps around, and smokes etc. As his friend, I don’t want to see him get hurt, but I’m wondering if it’s my place to say anything, and if so, how?

I answered:

As a general rule, uninvited advice doesn’t tend to go well. For the most part, you have to directly ask for my opinion before I am going to give it, and most of the people I know in professional ministry have the same policy. 

Things might be a little different in this case, however, if you have information that your friend doesn’t have. Telling him “you shouldn’t date this girl because x,y, and z” will probably not go your way, but there is a chance that “I am not telling you what to do, but here is information I have…” might yield better results, though there is not guarantee. It is also important to be clear that that strategy hinges on you having actual information, not gossip.

If your buddy is suffering from a medical condition known as “bootystruck” then you are probably not going to have any luck trying to deter him. Uninvited opinions tend to tweak people on a couple of levels. You are kind of implying that the person is missing something, which some people take as a statement about their intelligence. And, more generally, people don’t like being told they are wrong or that they can’t have something they want.

Trying to step in could have real negative consequences on your friendship. The esteemed and highly popular Unka Glen says about relationships that you need to ask yourself a question before any argument “is this the hill I want to die on?”, and that applies in this situation as well. If the thing you are trying to prevent is your buddy getting his heart stomped on, that does suck, but it happens to everybody at some point, so that may not be worth risking the hit to the friendship. If something more severe was going on, like getting mixed up in drugs or something, that may be worth the risk.

Unasked for advice should normally be reserved for emergency situation. In most other cases, you are better off letting people make their own mistakes and being there to support them in the aftermath. That may seem cold, like you should at least try, but it is the fair better approach for both the other person and the friendship long term


-Matt from The Bridge

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