Have you ever received advice from others and when it was all over, you wish your “comforters” had not come to “comfort” you?
Job suffers his disasters and then his three friends arrive. First of all they sit on the ground with him for three days and then they repeat over and over that Job is suffering because he is a sinful man.
Job does not appreciate their opinions, calling them “worthless physicians”, “miserable comforters” and people who talk “nonsense.”
Have you ever assumed a friend or family member needed your advice when maybe they didn’t? In my years of teaching interpersonal communication, I can tell you that unsolicited advice does more harm than good. Yet people keep on doling it out with the misguided idea that their wisdom and experience can help another.
What are the chances that your advice can really help another person; someone who has a particular problem that springs from their unique experiences? Really the chance is slim to none.
What do we need to do when we have a friend who is going through problems? Listen. Encourage them to talk out their troubles. Let them solve their problems the best way–by posing their own unique solutions.
When someone insists that you give them advice, be careful when you give it. Let the troubled person know that your advice is probably not going to work for them and then ask them seriously “do you still want to hear it”?
People who impose their advice on others may just be giving someone something they don’t need and don’t want. Unsolicited advice can result in further disaster as people can try your solutions and your solutions don’t work in their life.
One of my favorite writers John Stott comments on Job’s comforters. Stott tells us that “we may not quote anything out of the comforter’s speeches as Scripture, for their speeches are included in order to be contradicted not affirmed.”
Consider the advice you give to others; is it comfort or does it cause discomfort? Should it be contradicted, instead of being affirmed?