I’ve written a couple of articles about giving advice but one of the key points I made was that there is no point giving unsolicited advice. Therefore, if we want to receive advice, we need to seek it out. So here are some thoughts on the other side of the equation.
First of all, think carefully about who you go to for advice. Are they actually qualified to give advice. Remember that non-Christians can share their expertise because of common grace. That’s why I go to the doctor when I want medical advice. This also means however, that alongside the practical wisdom of unbelieving experts, I should be seeking out God’s will. This means I turn to believers but not just to them for their opinions. I do well to seek out believers who will help me come to God’s word and hear it, even when it disagrees with me.
Secondly, set out the terms of reference. What are you looking for? Again, know people. Some people will be able to freely offer advice and not care if you follow it or not. Others will commit to ensuring that you follow through on their instruction. I don’t think either approach is wrong in and of itself. It is rather about what is the need in the specific context.
Thirdly, be willing to seek out people who will disagree with you and challenge you. Often, we are already making our minds up at the point we choose who to turn to for advice knowing a little about the direction their advice is likely to take. So often we avoid going to some people because we think that we know what they will say but we don’t want to hear it.
Fourthly, seek advice in good time. As I have alluded to before, too often, people come for advice when it is too late and there is little that can be done. Seek advice right at the start.
Fifthly follow good advice! Don’t waste it!