Sunday, January 29, 2006

Advice Dispensing

Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

Have you ever shared a frustration or a concern with someone, only to have them tell you what you should do? Your thoughts immediately include “I have thought of that, you know. If you knew my life, you’d realize how naive and simplistic your counsel feels.”

Just last week Anola mentioned something to me while I was home for a few minutes in between meeting with different people. I quickly dispensed the correct dose of advice, hoping to free up my time to get on with the things I'd planned previously. She looked at me and said, "I didn't need your help with this. I can handle it."

Caught with my hand in the cookie jar (or rather the advice jar). Busted! As I retreated to my car it was painfully evident how quickly I fall into the advice giving pattern.

Did Jesus walk around giving advice wherever He went? I don't think so. He seemed so much more interested in really listening to people; really interested in their life and their story, like a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4. He had a way of accepting and loving people that made them seek His way for their own life.

The way of Jesus isn't dispensing advice to people, as if being a relational pharmacist that fixes people is our goal. God is so very interested in us that we ought to be profoundly interested and curious about each other, too. The divine, the image of God, is what we find walking around in others! That's amazing, don't you think?

What happens when people don't follow your advice?

The desire to help is the parent of judgment. Here, let me help you. What? You won’t do what I say? Well, why not? Do you think I’m wrong? Or are you just stubborn? Hidden beneath the most confident exterior is an insatiable desire to be liked, and its counterpart, the fear of rejection or criticism. Larry Crabb

Look at Rembrandt's picture of the Return of the Prodigal Son. Is it beautiful and moving because the son has returned home and now the father can tell him about everything that the son did wrong? Is the father about to embark on a litany of complaints of how difficult it's been because the son was so selfish as to leave?

Of course not. The father is overjoyed to once again live in relationship with His son. No advice here, only celebration.

Luke 15:20-24
"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.' "But his father said to the servants, `Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.

My advice to you: Let the party begin.


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