The Worst "Good Advice" You Will Ever Hear! (And How to "Discouragement-Proof" Your Mind Against It)
I’m a big proponent of paying attention to feedback. You can’t grow your emotional intelligence unless you do.
However, all feedback is not created equal!
Two years into the start-up of my Christian counseling center things were still not going well. I struggled to get it off the ground financially. More than one well-meaning Christian encouraged me to reconsider my path.
“It would be better for you to go get a counseling job with an agency. How do you know there’s a need for another Christian counseling center in the area?”
Perhaps naysayers spoke with you when you first began pursuing your call into vocational ministry. Maybe you’ve heard discouraging words recently as you pursue some ambitious goal or spiritually discerned direction.
Discouragement sometimes assaults us head-on. Other times, though, discouragement sneaks into our lives via a Trojan horse of well-meant but ill-conceived advice.
In fact, at least from Jesus’ perspective, words from others can sometimes be unwitting attacks meant to derail God’s purposes.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:21-23 NIV)
So, in order to “discouragement-proof” your mind, develop appropriate tactics for countering well-meaning but ill-conceived advice. Now, I don’t recommend that you or I tell someone, “Get behind me, Satan”, as Jesus did. However, I do suggest the following:
When dealing with “friendly adversaries” advising you let go of your lofty vision or goals, recognize this could be an attack to discourage you or the congregation from God’s path.
Start with the spiritual weapon of prayer in your response, recognizing that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Stay in touch with your calling, values and vision.
Some “good advice” is bad advice. Neither follow it nor let it dampen your enthusiasm.
In my case, despite urging to surrender and quit my path, I instead recalled the strong sense of God’s leading to start the counseling center. I reflected on my belief that it would grow to become “a light in a dark place”. I chose not to listen but to stand in faith.
Today, 18 years later, I see the vision realized. The counseling center has become a light in a dark place for hundreds of clients every year!
You have a different calling and purpose than mine. However, whatever God calls you to do, you will need to discouragement-proof your mind – even against well-meaning but ill-conceived advice!
Have you ever encountered “friendly adversaries” who have advised you in seemingly well-intentioned ways that in fact ran counter to your deeply held convictions about what you should be doing? How do you deal with folks like that? I would be interested in hearing your response!