Some years ago we were set to visit friends some one hundred miles or so from London. They had recently moved to a new location. So we needed to know some directions.
The intriguing thing was that the directions were given from so very close to where we lived in Feltham. In fact I found it quite insulting that they felt that we could not find our way to the vicinity of where they lived. What I wanted was directions from the place where we would find ourselves in need. So, in this case, that would have been from the M1.
This reminds me of how we need to careful in dealing with others in pastoral, counselling and evangelising contexts. So very often we leap into situation and give our little talk to advise people on what they need to do. What we have failed to do, though, is to be thoughtful enough to find out at what point they need help. To go over stuff they have already grasped can veer towards being insulting. So let us take time in our dealings with others, to make sure that we establish the point where they are in trouble. then we may be able to do them good.
There is another danger we need to be alert to here though and that is of assuming that people are further on than they are. To get directions which start after the point where we have got lost, is not very helpful. So we need to make sure that we are willing to go back to exactly where people are.
All of this means we need to be sensitive and thoughtful about how we deal with people.