Can I give you some advice?

[notice] A fortnightly column by Anna Heydenrych[/notice]

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”
Proverbs 19 verse 20.

My husband likes to teach me things.  For instance, I could be minding my own business, slaving over the hot stove while cooking him a delicious meal, and he will appear over my shoulder and ask, “Can I teach you something?”  More often than not, he is met with a snap and a resolute assertion that I know what I am doing. However, if all truth is to be told, I must admit that some of my skill in the kitchen is thanks to some handy tips learnt from hubby.

It is a good thing to be teachable, but receiving instruction on the most part, is not pleasant.  It means admitting that we are wrong, and then having to change something about our character or the way we do things, and change isn’t always comfortable.

I am training with my husband for an upcoming half-marathon.  Historically, my husband is sportier than I am, so on a recent run he was barking instructions at me, encouraging me to pick up my pace and explaining to me in full-sentences why I should.  All I could muster at this point were hand-signals and I did not appreciate his ease of breath.  I wanted to be left alone to train in my own way.  But in my heart I knew I would be wise to heed his instruction, so for the most part I held my tongue (or should I say my hand-signals) and paid attention to his commands.

Although I did not enjoy receiving his instruction at the time, I took it in and chose to accept it, and since then have been changing the way that I train.  I know that my performance, come race day, will be the better for it.

Accepting advice on how to train for a half-marathon or on how to use the hand-held blender to pulse the soup in a more efficient (and less messy) way is not going to make me a better person (although it might make me a better runner and house-wife).  The attitude in which I receive the advice, however, gives me an opportunity to practice receiving instruction graciously.  And I believe that willingly receiving wise instruction in my life will make me a better person.

I think that it is safe to assume that I don’t do everything perfectly right all the time, nor do I know everything that needs to be known.  I need other people to point things out to me from time to time.  As Christians, we need to be open to receiving the counsel of others, and further to that, to be introspective and to take action when we realise that we have a character trait or a bad habit that needs working on.

There is a big difference between wise counsel and criticism.  Criticism is not good and will never feel good to receive, whereas wise counsel is good even though it might not feel good to receive.  So let’s be wise in our discernment and always willing to react positively to wise counsel as well as bold enough to give it to others when necessary.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”
Proverbs 19 verse 20.

2 Comments

  1. Another wise column from Anna. I like the distinction she makes between criticism and wise counsel. We all have lots to learn and lots to teach.

  2. Ouch! This one definitely hit home. But, as you so wisely point out, Anna, we need to be willing to react positively to wise counsel. A lesson for many of us. Once again, thank you, Anna for your wise words.