Just because you have an opinion, doesn't mean you should give it.

Just because you have an opinion, doesn't mean you actually have something to say.

Just because you have an opinion, doesn't mean you won't be held accountable for your use of it.

At the risk of sounding like an old man, it seems like these days, people think that all you need for your advice to have credibility is for you to speak it. As if I should listen to what you have to say simply because you have the ability to frame it into a sentence.

I'm a firm believer that we, as leaders, will be held accountable for our influence and how we steered those we led. Tweet this

Like many of you, I am passionate about mentoring, coaching, and discipleship...whatever you want to call it.

Like many of you, I love adding value to people's lives by helping them ask critical questions and navigate significant seasons. It fuels me. Few things in life get me pumped like seeing someone THRIVE in the center of their STRENGTHS.

And, like many of you, I've seen people flippantly give advice without fully considering the weight of their words.

If we lead, we must give advice, but before we open our mouths, I'd like us to think about a few things.

This will be part one of a two part series about advice. This first part is advice for advice givers. Next time, we'll talk about "advice for advice takers."

So here we go...

1) Do before you talk.

In other words, prove it before you push it on somebody else. Anybody can sit back and criticize someone else who is actually doing the work. There is a depth to the advice when you've actually been on the playing field and, in retrospect, a shallowness with an edge in the advice of someone who has never actually done it.

2) It's not about you. It's about them.

The point of giving advice is not for the other person to say how smart you are. It's not for you to get any credit. It's for you to help bring clarity to a time of confusion. It's for you to draw gold out of fear, insecurity and pride. It's for you to help them write the best story possible. And you are uniquely positioned to do that. Do it well. Do it for them. Not for you.

3) Understand context.

Before you go into your barrage of "here's the 24 steps to success," make sure you thoroughly understand what the individual is going through. Ask a ton of questions before you give any answers.

  • What are they afraid of?
  • What are their options?
  • Who else is speaking into their situation?
  • Have they run this by their spiritual authorities?
  • What is their ultimate end goal?
  • In light of that, what's the best question they SHOULD be asking right now?

One size does not fit all with clothing and infinitely more so with life decisions.

4) Know when you need to say "I don't know."

Your goal is to not have all the answers. The worst thing you can do is give advice when you have no credible advice to give.

In a moment of wanting to look smart, you can inadvertantly give TERRIBLE advice. It's ok to say "I don't know." It's ok to say, "let's pray and see what God says." It's ok to say "let's run this by so-and-so. They may have some wisdom to speak into this."

Not only is it ok. It would be appropriate.
To answer when you shouldn't is not only poor leadership, it is prideful, selfish, and downright inappropriate.

5) Show your work.

The best way that you can really help longterm is to give the person the framework for why you are giving the advice you are.

  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • What were the internal filters that led you to that answer?

You can give them the answer and you help them in that one instance or you can show them how you came to that conclusion and hopefully they can apply that same framework to a multitude of life decisions going forward.

At the end of the day, giving them the answer may be a disservice.

The best way we can lead is to help them make great decisions when we are no longer there.


So...

Lead well. Give advice. Bring clarity.

But first...

Feel the weight of your words. Understand the power of your influence. Realize that you are not just getting lunch or coffee.

You are molding a life.

Do it with great joy, appropriate soberness, and the heart of a father.

Is there anything better?


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