Some people think helpful advice is all about knowing things and saying a lot. To the contrary, you can know little yet give solid advice and with sparing words you can help a person greatly.
Here are 4 ways to give helpful advice.
Wait to be asked.
Most of the time, unsolicited advice is not helpful. It is ineffective especially when a person is not ready to hear what you have to say. To some, you may be viewed as a meddler who knows nothing better to do. For example, stories are told of those who try to mediate a conflict they have no business involving themselves with. Proverbs 26:17 has this to say about that: “Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.”
Have the connection.
Sometimes, you can perceive things other people can’t. In a church setting, this can both be an asset and a liability. If you feel burdened to give advice or correction to someone who is not close to you, a direct approach may be unhelpful. That brother or sister may get discouraged or offended. Find someone connected with that person whom you can talk with to handle the matter or to give clearer insight. Or better, have that person introduce and connect you to this individual you want to give advice or correction to. Pray while you establish a connection. Pray and watch for the soonest opportunity to bring the matter up.
Have the qualification or experience.
Has it ever happened to you? To have someone giving you advice about something they have no experience or qualification for? People with no children advising a mother about raising her kids properly; people who’ve had an easy life teaching those in hardship about perseverance. Indeed, with supernatural enablement, God can teach us things through just about anyone. However, most of the time, God chooses to use those who’ve undergone the same things as we are undergoing to get us through the humps and bumps of life. 2 Corinthians 1:4 talks about how God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
You may have ideas that can help and you may present them to the person in need of advice. But better yet, understand your limitations and find someone with experience who can help the individual better than you can.
Focus more on remedies, not faults and failures.
It may have happened to you. You’ve come to a friend for comfort and clarity only to leave the conversation heartbroken and more shaken. When you are invested in the person, it may be hard to keep your emotions in control but you need to. While it may be right to say, “I told you so.” and blame the person for his failings, what’s helpful is to redirect the person towards taking steps to resolve his problems.
For instance, instead of rubbing it in by saying, “You are such a spendthrift. You really don’t value money at all.” Scrap those two sentences and get your friend to take out a paper and pen and visually determine what are necessities and luxuries based on the limited funds that he or she has.