It is important not to give unsolicited advice to adults. It is also important to be careful about the counsel we give even when someone does ask for our opinion.
I was reading about Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.” (101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck) This particular hymn is now considered by many people to be the finest of the 6500 hymns Charles Wesley wrote, but it didn’t become popular until after his death, perhaps because, when he presented it to his brother, John, for approval, it was rejected as being too sentimental. God was big enough to over ride John’s opinion of it, but how sad that Charles never knew that.
Charles apparently respected his brother’s opinions, but it’s unfortunate that John was wrong, in this case. We must be very careful and prayerful about what we say, especially to people who respect us! I know I don’t want to give bad advice or hinder God’s work in someone’s life!
John could have been honest about his opinion, but also encourage Charles to pray about it and get other people’s opinions. I’m learning that, unless I’m properly quoting Scripture, it’s best to make it clear that what I’m saying is just my personal opinion and state that I could be wrong!
When my adult, special needs son, voices his frustrations and asks my opinion, I’m learning to say things like: “What do you want to do about it?” or “Is there something you want me to do?” (instead of immediately jumping into problem-solving mode). It’s the same with my friends. Instead of telling them what I would do, I’m learning to encourage them to seek the Lord and discover for themselves what’s best for them.
I will conclude with this excellent advice from the Bible (James 1:19, NIV):
“…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” I feel that applies even when our intentions are to be helpful!