10: Finding Advice Worth Hearing (or Managing Anger with Pit Bulls)

You may have caught an interesting article in the news about three weeks ago. During the hurricanes in Florida a group of people were in an office building riding out the storm. While they were essentially trapped inside, a 54-year-old man ordered his pit bulls to attack them with the words, "Go get them." One woman was bitten on the leg and a man suffered deep bites to his face and throat. After the initial attacks, they had to hide in their offices for an hour since the police were busy with hurricane-related activity. No motive was given for the attacks. The craziest part of the story is that this guy is a mental health counselor who treats anger management problems and addictions. His past arrests include aggravated assault with a weapon, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Now doesn’t that sound like the kind of guy you’d like to visit for your anger issues? You’d sure want to be careful not to tick him off from the counseling couch!

Now I want you to understand that I don’t think all anger management counselors act in this way, anymore than I would think that type of behavior is typical of all 54-year-olds, or even all men. We can’t stereotype all counselors as bad, and I certainly don’t want to be included in any stereotypes of pastors (unless they are positive ;-))! However, this story does illustrate this point well: you sure want to be careful who you go to for advice! Can you imagine the counseling sessions, "Well Franklin, when I get angry here’s how I like to let off a little steam…"

Who do you go to for parenting advice? Many people just pick up a book or a magazine, and have no idea what type of parent the author is. The author may or may not be a good parent, or may not even be a parent at all! He or she may not use biblical principles at all, or may form opinions first, and then try to find supporting verses, rather than read the Bible to form opinions. Here are some things you should weigh whenever you get parenting advice:

  • Do you know him/her personally? (It’s easy to look good at a distance!)
  • Does he/she have kids you’d like your kids to be like?
  • Does he/she have a life that you’d like to imitate?
  • Is he/she winning with his/her own kids?
  • Even better: Has he/she already won with his/her own kids?
  • Does he/she go to the Bible for answers, or merely express personal opinions?
  • Do you know the answers to these questions in relationship to the people you are getting the majority of your input from? If not, then why are you listening to them? (By the way, the same goes for my wife and me. Unless you know us, we are just two more voices among thousands.)

Parenting can be grueling work! Parents can be hungry for answers, and it’s tempting to lend an ear to anyone with an opinion or a word of hope. As long as good advice is being given, that is great, but personally, I’d like to have a little more confidence in the input we receive. I think the ideal situation is to get advice from couples in your church whom you know and respect, and who have kids you admire. If you don’t know those things about a family, then how do you know if their advice is really on target? Not only that, but if you know them, and they know you, then it seems like the chances of getting good advice are greatly increased.

I’m certainly not trying to whittle down my e-mail list! If you’ll keep listening, I’ll keep writing! However, I do want to encourage everyone to have people in your life that you know, and that know you, whose lives are heading where you want to go, and who can help mentor you in parenting, marriage, and in all aspects of the Christian life. Don’t trust every expert! Don’t even trust every Christian author. Instead, look around you. Who is going before you? Who do you know that is living out the Christian life in such a way that it has profoundly impacted their parenting? Seek their help, get their advice and feedback, and imitate their faith.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything . Hold on to the good. NIV

Proverbs 12:5 The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful. NIV

Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. NIV

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