“Just Keep Silent!”

“People rarely take advice, unless they have to pay for it.” –Unknown

“The trouble with good advice is that it usually interferes with your plans.”—Traditional

“Good advice is what your own kids disregard but save to give to their kids.” –Traditional

“There is… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7).

Like most people who enjoy writing, I comment about words, thoughts, ideas, and situations that are of great interest to me. Some of my writings are based on current events in the news, others on situations closer to my heart. All are biblically based, I hope.

Sometimes, when I post something, people who are near and dear to me wonder if I had them in mind. I just smile and say, “Maybe. Maybe not.” Perhaps I should say, “Of course!” In my mind, my material is designed to reach the world at large. That is the purpose of the internet, to reach the world.

But, in Judgment Day honesty, sometimes I do have a particular event or situation on my heart. However, most of the time my themes are of universal interest and applicable to anyone and everyone. Certainly, the Word of God has a way of penetrating the heart of any individual reading my material to bring them under conviction and change, or just being encouraged and blessed. Since more people read my Blogs than I know intimately, this is normally the case.  I try to help everyone, and hurt no one.

With that being said, this Blog is directed at ME. It is a memo to MYSELF to keep silent in specific conversations with others, and not offer unsolicited advice.

This is not easy for me to do because as a parent, grandparent, as a former pastor, school teacher, administrator, and counselor, I LOVE to give advice to others. Giving advice is one of the few things I really enjoy doing in life. And now, I have had more than 50 years of practice. But to what purpose? Socrates was a Greek philosopher who went around giving good advice for many years. They poisoned him.

I need to learn from Socrates, and, upon reflection, there are some conversations in which I offer advice after which, I wish I had remembered, there is “a time to keep silent.” There is a time when unsolicited advice becomes harmful, and not at all helpful. I need to do better and not offer unsolicited advice for some very good reasons.

First, the person who is receiving the unsolicited advice becomes defensive. What started out as a conversation about one subject, is suddenly switched to another topic, that may or may not be of interest, or relevant. Usually, it is not.

Second, the person who is receiving the unsolicited advice is unappreciative. They came for comfort and support, and suddenly they are made to feel like they have done something wrong. Maybe they have, but that is not the point. The point is that they do not appreciate being put on the defense. When a person really wants to confess a wrong doing, they will go to a trusted friend, a pastor, a priest, a counselor, a psychologist, and sometimes, the police.

Third, the person who is receiving unsolicited advice will become angry, especially if they feel the advice is not applicable to their situation. The old adage still applies, “A person convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still.” Nothing changes.

Fourth, the person who is receiving the unsolicited advice know they are not going to take the advice, and why should they? They did not ask for it, they do not appreciate the interference, they are angry that the conversation has taken a turn, and they know they will never do what is suggested, no matter how wise, biblical, sound, or full of common sense the advice may be. Just on the principle of maintaining autonomy, a person becomes determined NOT to do whatever is suggested.

Fifth, the person who is giving the unsolicited advice is wasting time, breathe, and energy. The Bible tells the Church to redeem the time. Engaging in a meaningless conversation involving unsolicited advice is not a good way to redeem time.

The Bible says to the Church, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

Memo to self, “Do NOT offer unsolicited advice. Just keep silent!”

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