I almost always refuse to give advice. I often even refuse to give advice when I am asked.
Want to know why?
Here’s a recent experience I had as a pastor. A young man who was breaking up with his girlfriend came to me and asked for advice. I knew his girlfriend. I had helped her and her family out a few times. She looked up to me somewhat.
Now he had cheated on his girl and was constantly hitting on other women while they were together. But he tried to make it seem like he was trying to let go of the relationship. She had left him, and he wanted to know how to move on.
I gave him some advice, since he seemed so incredibly sincere about asking. I told him to delete all the photos of her that he had on his phone.
He was stunned.
Then he gave himself away. He talked about how “even her mother is on my side, and wants us to get back together.”
So much for trying to move on.
See, what he was expecting was that I would say something about how to salvage the relationship. And what he really wanted was to convince me to be an ally to get his girlfriend, who he treated like crap, back.
When people ask for advice about how to deal with another person, they are often just looking for an ally in a conflict with someone else. And what do I know about other peoples’ conflicts?
Stay out of them. Don’t take sides.
On top of that, if I give advice then I’m taking some responsibility. If the other person figures it out on their own, or by searching the library or the internet, it’s 100% their responsibility. And guess which works out best?
Oh by the way, this event happened a few years ago. So now I can report on the two people.
The young woman? Got together with a different guy. She’s happy now instead of being depressed. They bought a house together.
The young man? Still hitting on teenagers. Still a financial mess. And still probably asking for “advice” that he has absolutely no intention of following.