Jeff Weddle | @anti_itcher
“Please hold for an important business call,” says the familiar recorded female voice on the telephone that recently rang in my house.
How stupid is that? Why does a place call me to put me on hold? And why do they call me every day?
I recently got a new phone number. Apparently the previous owner of this number was on a first name basis with every telemarketer in the known universe. Every day we are getting multiple calls for Mike, Tami, Max, and others. Maybe a whole universe of people previously had this number. I don’t know.
What I do know is that they keep calling me and they don’t stop. Getting telemarketing calls is annoying; repeatedly getting them for other people is nigh on infuriating.
I know you are itching to solve this problem for me. I can hear your breathing quickening, your mouth moistening, and see the smoke coming out of your churning brain-wheels. I know you want to give me advice. Advice like:
No. Listen to me: They won’t stop calling. All day long they call. They won’t stop. They interrupt the entire day. Your advice won’t cut it here. I’m over the edge. I’m at the point where I’d like to exhume Alexander Graham Bell and punch him in the face.
“Well, there are many legal hurdles you’ll need to clear in order to exhume a dead body. I have a brother who is a lawyer and has helped people exhume bodies. My advice is to consult with him. . .”
What’s with people giving advice about everything? Am I really an incompetent moron surrounded by so many geniuses who know everything? Does no one else have problems? With all the people out there who know how to solve every problem everyone else has, you would think we’d have more presidential candidates. Come to think of it, we had quite a few.
Unprompted advice giving is a knee-jerk reaction. No wait; it’s just a jerk reaction.
I remember when my dad was dying of cancer. There wasn’t much time left. He was going to die and die soon. I’d tell people. Rarely would I get an “I’m sorry to hear that. What can I do to help?” Instead I’d get, “Have you heard of the cancer-fighting properties of apple cider vinegar?” Or “There’s this new resort you can send cancer patients to where they do reflective light therapy treatments.”
Hey, listen! I don’t want your advice. My dad is dying.
The Bible tells us to “confess your faults to one another.” I wouldn’t suggest it. Next time you admit a fault to someone you’ll get an ear-full. “You should read this book.” “You should take these essential oils that penetrate to the spiritual level of narcissistic tendencies.” “You should stop having faults.”
Church, the Body of Christ, the fellowship of believers, is supposed to be a helpful place. A place of acceptance and welcome. A place of support, comfort, and encouragement. Now it’s become a giant blather session of advice-giving.
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15)
Let me suggest that this verse is impossible to do while giving advice.
When people are sick, or caring for a dying loved one, don’t give them advice. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Sympathize. I think most of our advice giving is nothing more than a guilt-ridden substitute for doing something helpful.
When someone shares a struggle, a fault, a sin, or just an inconvenience, don’t give them advice. Listen. Pat em on the back. Remember, Job’s friends didn’t get in trouble until they opened their mouths.
Take a moment out of your day to go the extra mile with someone. Put yourself in their shoes. Feel their pain or their joy. Don’t feel like you need to talk them out of either one. You don’t know everything. Wisdom will not die with you. You don’t know what tomorrow holds for you, let alone anyone else. Give advice if they ask for it (usually), but rarely any other time.
I’m going to have to end here, the phone is ringing.
Jeff Weddle is the husband of one wife and father of three kids. He is pastor of Rhinelander Bible Church in Rhinelander, WI. He enjoys reading, writing, guitaring, and although he does not enjoy running, he tends to do that a lot, too. You can contact him on Twitter at @anti_itcher or at his blog: AntiItchMeditation.wordpress.com.