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When Advice Isn’t Helpful

Photo of David UpchurchDavid Upchurch | Bio

David Upchurch

David Upchurch has served as Director of Church Ministries at Lincoln Christian University since January 1, 2012. He is an alumnus of Lincoln Christian University (BA 1980, MA 2017). David served for 32 years in four churches in Illinois and Kentucky before joining LCU. He served on the board of a mission organization called ACM International for 25 years and has traveled to several countries in Africa 13 times, as well as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Thailand, Haiti, and Mexico. David has been married to his wife Cindy for 39 years. They have three adult children and five grandchildren.

A few Saturdays ago, I placed my cell phone on the back bumper of my wife’s van as I planted some flowers in pots for Mother’s Day. Now I knew that my wife was going to be leaving a little later . . . but as I get older, it’s becoming clearer to me that “knowing” and “remembering” are not always in the same zip code.

So when later came, I waved good-bye and finished planting flowers. When I couldn’t find my phone and realized what must have happened, I went on a search and rescue mission.

I found the lost phone on the road about ½ mile from our house. It looked like it had been run over by every vehicle in Sangamon County.

I felt so stupid for putting the phone on the bumper. I knew it was my fault. So what do you do when have done something stupid? Obviously, I posted a picture of me holding the mangled phone on Facebook.

I decided to have a little fun. I asked if a wife should have looked on the bumper before backing out of the garage and driving away. People must really be bored–because I received more comments on that post that any other in a long time: over 250. Most knew it was posted in fun, that I didn’t really think it was Cindy’s fault. And there were some really funny comments.

But there were some people who took the matter seriously and offered words of counsel–advice, even a gentle reprimand–that really weren’t needed or helpful.

It made me think of times when people make mistakes, or they are discouraged, maybe feeling a little guilty, or sad.

They need someone to care, but they don’t always need a lecture or a lesson.

In the book of Job, we read how Job went through a period of horrific loss. His three friends came and sat with him for 7 days. For 7 days, they got it right. Then they opened their mouths, and it was downhill from there.

We need to be the cool water that gets poured over the burning coals, not the gasoline that fans the flame.

James 1:19 tells us,

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

We seem to be going through uncharted waters right now, and people are growing impatient, anxious, and even angry. Comments are typed out more quickly than they are thought out. Facebook is filled with opinions from people who feel theirs is the only reasonable opinion worth having. Yet not every thoughtful person, even in the church, is going to agree with every decision from church leadership or opinion on political perspectives.

So, I just want to offer a word of caution for us all: not every thought in our head needs to come out of our mouth . . . or posted on Facebook . . . or blogged.

We need to be the cool water that gets poured over the burning coals, not the gasoline that fans the flame. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.