Friday, 5 November 2010

Taking advice from an 'expert'? Check for fruit

I was reading 1 Kings 12 to my Boy Warriors the other day. It's the recount of the events of one of Solomon's son's Rehoboam, just after Solomon's death. He was a new king and had to make a decision about a request that the people of Israel had asked him. He consulted the elders that had served King Solomon all his life. Now, if I was Rehoboam I probably would have listened to these advisers - after all, they had served and advised a very successful king and knew what they were talking about. But here is what he did:
 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. {1 King 12:8}

He made a very unwise choice - he listened to his peers, instead of those who were experts, and as a result lost his throne. His friends had no experience in running a kingdom, unlike the elders. The elders however, had a proven track record of running a kingdom with the time they spent serving Solomon.

I have to bite my tongue sometimes when people give me unsolicited advice on how to raise my children, educate my children, or any area of my life. I just listen to their advice and smile and nod, but mentally I am already throwing their advice into my mind's rubbish bin. Having taken some really bad advice from people in the past, mistaking them for an 'expert', I now have rules on who I allow to speak into my life. If the advice-giver does not fall into this catergory, then I will not consider them an 'expert' in the area. So what is my checklist?

In my eyes, to be an 'expert' the person must:

(a) Display fruit in their own life in the area that I am seeking advice for.
(b) Have experienced the season I am in, or is in the same season as me and exhibits (a).

Using this rule of thumb has saved me a lot of heart ache when deciding whether to take advice or not. I use the same guidelines when reading a book. Somehow as a society, we have concluded that if a person has written a book, then that person must be an expert. The truth is, anyone can publish a book and get the best marketing team on board to promote someone as an 'expert'. But not everyone displays the fruit in the area that they are an 'expert' in.

The same works for any area in my life. I won't take advice from someone in the area of health if they are always sick. I won't take marriage advice from someone if they are always in conflict within their own marriage. I won't take advice from someone in the area of finance if they are always mismanaging their money. I won't take advice from someone in the area of faith, if they are not displaying the fruit of Holy Spirit.

I will take advice on marriage from someone if they have an amazing marriage. I will take advice from someone if they were once unwell, but now they are healthy. I will take advice from someone if they manage their money successfully. I will take advice from someone in the area of faith, if they are displaying the fruit of  Holy Spirit.

I find I have to be careful sometimes when reading blog posts or books. It is more difficult when reading blog posts or books, as you don't really know if the advice given is credible. You don't really know if they are displaying the fruit in their lives that you desire. So I proceed with caution. Most times, if you are a regular follower of a particular blog, you can get a better idea of whether or not you should heed someone's advice.

We live in a world where everyone has an opinion and is happy to tell you what they think on facebook, twitter, and Blog Land. Sometimes we can mistake someone as an 'expert' and take their advice thinking that they know better than us. I have done this many times and fallen under condemnation - telling myself that I was a terrible mother/wife/teacher because I wasn't doing what 'Susie' at "I'm-a-perfect-woman" blog says you should do. You know, the type of blogs that make you second guess yourself and make you feel inadequate.

But don't take my word for it. I'm not an expert!

Still taking lessons from the King,


  1. I love this! I have also taken advice from those who have not walked in my shoes, but I won't anymore. It's like someone telling me the other week to work on breathing exercises to overcome my anxiety. Have they walked in my shoes? No. What is the fruit of their advice? Hmmm, I can't see anything delicious yet. We must be so careful getting, and giving, advice.

  2. True, true. Good post but good thoughts Jo. However if I may offer my own experience, which is possibly unrelated yet in my mind is related.

    I have a child who has gone off the rails - who is into anything and everything that we, her family, are not. For many years I was a little depressed and felt like I had nothing to say within my circle of friends. How could I share? Especially when I knew people were looking at this child- and looking at our family- with the intent on discovering where we 'went wrong' so that they could avoid it. The problem with this, besides being formulaic, is that it leaves out the journey, the path, the road travelled of the person we're looking it.

    Since then I have come to realise a lot. A lot about my thoughts on God and the Kingdom and His nature and the gospel. Many of the things I thought I believed have been slightly reconstructed as I've tripped over a few potholes. Parenting blogs, especially homeschooling ones, are often so prescriptive but they leave out important facets of life such as, freewill and how God chooses us and how some of us have to be prodigals, etc.

    Just my thoughts as I attempt to share my walk along the way... fully aware that people will try to look at my 'fruit' and judge me by it.

    But, I still loved your post :)

    How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked... Psalm 1

  3. I like this. There are people in my own life, and also random strangers who like to give their advice without me pursuing it. It has, at times, made me feel so inadequate. Because I am an introvert, I think people must assume that I have no idea about anything and "offer" their advice to "help".

    I also find it hard when reading blogs. The 'Mummy guilt' likes to rear its ugly head.

    I try not to offer advice on my own blog for this very reason - I'm not an expert and I only write from my own experience.

  4. Great reminder! There really is only one expert - God!

  5. Great advice!! I will take it!! Thank you to Susan for sharing too. I have had a similar experience with one of my children and have felt useless to offer advice but have learnt that it does not disqualify me because of my childrens choices, in fact it is a rise up moment to see the glory of God. xx

  6. If I seek the presence of God before making a decision I am confident that He who is Truth will lead me to ALL truth.

    I agree that we must be wise with what we read and what we allow our children to be exposed to.

    May His peace be with you!

  7. Great post. I have been often reminded by God on my latest journey to always look to someone who has more sight on an issue that I am dealing with right now. Like you said for marriage, someone who has a great marriage based on Godly values and principles. I totally agree if you are taking advice from someone not displaying any fruit in the area you are asking about then this would be like the blind leading the blind. You both end up somewhere you never expected to be and can't quite work out how. Awesome post!

  8. Find your blog through Nessa. Love to connect with Aussie kindred spirits. Sharing uplifting ideas raises energy vibration. Much love to you

  9. Wonderfully put!

    And I mostly just wanted to *be* here and again and let you know I'm here... for the moment at least. I'm working on cultivating some fruit right now so that leaves considerably less time for internet. ;)

  10. So true! I like your definition on how to decide who an expert is...especially in matters of faith. I have also learned that no matter what the question is, it can be answered through God's word. So, I always compare what someone tells me to what the Bible says. Questions on marriage?'s in the Book. Questions on money? Health? Friendship? The answer is in the Book, too. Our God has thought of it all. I am so thankful that He is there for us.

    Living for Him, Joan


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my lessons!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Jo Princess Warrior xo