The best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself. ~ George MacDonald
Have you ever given advice only to be disappointed or frustrated or maybe even a little angry when your advice wasn’t followed? Like a cross between Dear Abbey and Dr Phil, we often seem to see, with amazing clarity, the path another should walk.
There are times when giving advice is imperative. It’s a part of parenting, a part of teaching, a part of many professions. But if we truly want to encourage growth and courage in a child, a student, a client, a parishioner – in a friend – we need to learn when to stop sharing our life lessons and listen to their life stories.
If a person wants and values our advice, they’ll seek it. I was a young counselor when I learned that basic lesson in advice giving. Ask more, tell less. I still forget that sometimes.
What a gift of grace it is to care enough about someone to wake things up that are in them; to make them think things for themselves. It may not be the solution that we think we can so clearly see would solve all their troubles. But it may be their solution for their path.
So this is my unsolicited advice: If they Don’t Ask, you Don’t Tell. And yes, I know. You didn’t ask.