Thursday, April 10, 2008

32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.

Jocelyn's thoughts today:

As with many of the maxims, we encounter a call to strike a delicate balance.

To me, the easier part of this maxim is to give advice only when asked. Just keep your mouth shut until someone asks you a question, I suppose. (Of course, when you're absolutely itching to speak up, this can prove difficult!) Like the other maxims, it encourages us to choose our words carefully and precisely, to speak only as necessary.

But giving when necessary is tougher when looking at the second half of the maxim. We have a duty to give advice! Can you believe that? This means that it's something we can fail at if we don't give advice. (Not to make y'all paranoid or anything.) Your knowledge, experience, and wisdom can be invaluable to someone; we must be on the alert for loving ways that we can be giving to others.

I know that for me, it's easier to look at the things that I have said and see where I was wrong to give advice or failed miserably at it. Seeing missed opportunities is a little harder. What's difficult for me is creating an attentive mind, looking for those opportunities where I could give advice (or help of some sort). It's not always obvious or easy, and many times I'm so wrapped up in my own needs that I don't even see the greater needs of others.


Emily said...

Jo, I totally agree -- the first part is far easier than the second!

When I get involved in slightly uncomfortable situations that seem beyond my control, I tend to want to bow out and wash my hands of the whole thing. But I know that's just an overreaction, and it would be far better to say, "How can I most be of help to the others involved here?"

Thanks for the wonderful, well-balanced advice.

Doanh said...

Yes, I agree with Jocelyn that striking this delicate balance is painful when you're itching to speak up. Mostly, because you oh so want others to see the beauty of Christ. However, in a situation where you know your views will be scoffed at and you know that you aren't going to be listened to, I think it's better to keep quiet and keep the peace. Unless, of course, they genuinely ask you. But if they don't, it's better to let them be. I learned this the hard way.

The Forty Maxims

  • 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
  • 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
  • 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
  • 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
  • 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
  • 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  • 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
  • 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
  • 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
  • 10. Be faithful in little things.
  • 11. Do your work, then forget it.
  • 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  • 13. Face reality.
  • 14. Be grateful.
  • 15. Be cheerful.
  • 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  • 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • 18. Listen when people talk to you.
  • 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
  • 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  • 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
  • 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
  • 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
  • 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
  • 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
  • 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  • 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
  • 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  • 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  • 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
  • 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
  • 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
  • 33. Be strict with yourself.
  • 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
  • 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
  • 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  • 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  • 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
  • 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
  • 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.