Getting Advice

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sometimes, it just takes time - and the right setting - to get through to one another. My dad and I were sitting at the ocean's edge when he turned to me and said, "Would you like some helpful advice?"

I didn't have to wonder what he meant. The boys had been, well, boys, and I had, well, yelled. Nothing new. What felt different was that I was ready for advice. I didn't bristle or feel defensive. I think it is fair to say that I took it all in without too much objection. 

Advice has never been easy for me. Who wants to be corrected, reigned in, or told to come back to shallow water? 

A few days later, I returned to my Bible and where I had left off in Proverbs. I was not surprised to feel like God was following up on the parental conversation:
"He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded." Proverbs 13:13" 
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24
Scorning instruction (or advice) has never been good for me; yet isn't that our nature? It is mine. I've never enjoyed constructive criticism. I like to get it right, all by myself. Yet, it was so much easier, less stressful and less of a struggle to simply say, "Yes, I'd love some advice. What do you think?" 
Then there is the familiar "spares the rod" verse - so frequently misinterpreted and misunderstood. My dad's advice did not include any type of corporal punishment; he said I should stick to two or three simple rules, and enforce them swiftly. One strike = one strike; not one or two passes and then, okay, there's a strike. His method involves being consistent. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of patience. It takes a lot of love. 
" . . . but he who loves (his son) is careful to discipline him."
I am sure that my dad's advice was the result of deliberate thought and prayer: what words to say and when to say them. I am also sure that my surprisingly open heart was the result of my frequent prayer: "Lord, help me with these boys." I meant for God to reveal wisdom to me, so that I would know what to do, without bothering anyone or appearing less than perfect. Turns out, I needed a less comfortable, but more effective, mode of delivery. 

How do you take advice? 

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17 Responses to “Getting Advice”

  1. It is hard to take advice.  Sometimes God's answers to prayers are not what we expect.

  2. I'd rather take my own advice. ha!  I have found it easier to take advice when it comes from someone who loves me.  

    That water looks so refreshing!

  3. Just the same as is so hard to listen and heed others advice but after Fisherman told me a few weeks ago that I was one of the worst people to take criticism, and he was being nice - not mean - I realized I really had to work at taking advice and constructive criticism. 
    I think it pays off though. And it makes you stretch your brains on different ways to handle a situation.
    I also agree with the consistency of enforcing rules with kids. This is so hard but a friend suggested it the other week when Esau was in the middle of hour long tantrums and it has helped a lot.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Great thoughts! My issue with taking advice? Swallowing my pride. I would love to think that I have it all figured out on my own (And the enemy would love for me to think that too!) But we all need help in different areas of our lives. It is encouraging to me that while I need to take advice on some subjects, I am often sought out for advice on other subjects. What a blessing! Thanks for your wonderful words today... Awesome advice ;-) 

  5. "Would you like some advice?" While those words can send chills up my spine, they can also be some of the most loving and helpful I hear. 

    That being said: Oh, the sting of rebuke! It can really hurt, but it hurts the most in my pride. I agree with Michelle-sometimes God's answers to our prayers are not what we expect. When I pray for guidance, I don't expect it to come from my youngest daughter as she explains to me why what I'm doing is wrong. :-0
    Great post. Thanks for the reminder to be humble and to listen for direction wherever and however God sends it.

  6. How do I take advice? This is a good question to think about and probably frustrating for certain people in my life. I say I take advice well, and really if you were to drop me an email about this or that, I would probably not only be appreciate, but excited. However, if you try to give me advice about my kids, I am much more resistant. I quickly jump to judged.

    Glad your dad was able to reach out and you were able to hear him.

  7. How do I take advice? Hmm...sometimes really openly and other times, not so. (Usually "not so" about something I'm struggling with or feeling convicted about!)

    "Lord, help me with these boys" is a well-worn prayer around this house...said it for years. It has taken awhile, but I've found that sometimes the least comfortable can be the most effective. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Michelle - You are so right. God's answers to prayers are almost never what I expect, but that is part of the blessing. I can't figure it all out or even imagine it all, myself. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Been there with the hour (plus!) long tantrum . . . Little Guy threw one the day after this conversation with my dad and it was the perfect time to put his advice to the test :) I was much more patient and persistent than I otherwise would have been. Still working on it, though.

  10. Yes, it is a pride issue for me, too. I have to release the desire to figure it out "all by myself" - something my 3 year old says often! His constant use of that phrase is a reminder to me of how childish pride can be. Glad you stopped by, Sharita.

  11. Hi Kim - Thanks for your comment. It is all about pride and humility, isn't it? Good to know I'm in good company! 

  12. Yep - it is the parenting advice that I get most defensive about, but that is what I need! I'm all about getting advice in areas that are more comfortable to me. Funny how that works :)

  13. Laura - This means a lot to me coming from you! I expect to continue my prayer for years, and hopefully I'll stay open to the answers coming from unexpected places. I know that God is working in all things - even the tantrums and how I respond to them :) Thanks, as always, for your encouragement.

  14. It all depends on the delivery and who is giving it. If it is someone that doesn't feel "safe" to me and one who I feel judged by, I don't receive it well. But if it is someone that I know is for me and loves me I think I can receive it pretty well.

  15. Courtney, this brought tears to my eyes. I could feel a sigh of relief in your words. I think I would savor a moment like that with my dad. He lives so far away and, after reading this, I really miss him!  I don't accept advice well from most people, but I always listen when my dad speaks because he does so sparingly. I know it is important when he speaks!

    In addition, I really like the advice your dad gave you. Thanks for sharing it. I'll have to keep this in mind as I have one in particular who requires a lot of supervision and thus gets a lot of... err... attention from me. ;)

  16. It is so hard to get advice.  Especially from your parents.  But I also find some relief in surrendering part of my problems instead of dealing with them on my own.

  17. You model humility here; you model a willingness to continue learning and growing in faith. Thank you for this...