I lamented here about the observation that there are not many listeners around. In this article I want to muse upon the fact there appear to be quite a few experts. It has struck me on occasion, recently, about how people so easily present themselves as experts about certain matters. I am left thinking sometimes about how they can make such statements.
There well, may be, a direct connection to my observations about the lack of listeners yesterday. Rather than simply listening to people and helping them work through situations, we so often feel that we have to say something that will direct people to a solution. So we give the expert advice which will sort the matter for the person.
No, I am not saying here that we should not make suggestions or observations about a person’s situation. Particularly if that person is putting themselves in danger, it would be unloving to withhold information which would deliver them from potential harm. For a parent of younger children not to be directive to their children would be a gross dereliction of duty.
So most definitely there can be a time to opine on a matter. However, I do feel that the way we present things needs to be thought about. Making suggestions about a matter can be helpful. Moreover, if you have particular training in a certain subject or have been through a particular experience which bears on the other person’s situation then sharing in these matters can be most helpful.
One negative instance was that of someone with no medical training and without examining me definitively stating that a doctor’s diagnosis was wrong, A doctor that is who had examined me for a certain complaint. I found this quite breathtaking.
I appreciate as well that there are cultural issues at play here and certain cultures are used to interacting in a very directive rather than suggestive kind of way. However, we do need to be careful in these matters.
If someone actually asks for your advice then this colours the approach to the matter. But even then it may not be appropriate to say anything specifically into the situation. The best could well be to ask the other person questions so that they can work through the matter themselves.
So I conclude with these thoughts:
- Be a listener first of all.
- If you do speak into a person’s situation make sure that you speak in harmony with Scripture.
- If you do have a specialism which is unbeknown to the other person then reveal it. I remember being humbled by seeking to direct someone about how to approach some roof work. This man turned out to be ……………… a roofer!