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Advice on Seeking Advice

3. Ask, “What background is necessary?”

Third, prepare the information someone needs to understand the background of the situation. Then, cut that in half.

There may be many details about yourself or your circumstances you can share, but keep your information to what is necessary for the specific advice you are seeking—that way you can maximize the time.

In other words, what does the person giving you advice need to know to effectively give you advice? That way you maximize the time and ultimately get better information and advice along the way. You are a better steward and learner.

4. Ask, “Am I ready to learn?”

Listen. Don’t go into the conversation with a defensive posture. You may ultimately decide not to take all of the advice you are given, but try to avoid any knee-jerk reactions and to simply receive.

5. Ask, “What am I going to do now?”

Finally, take action—small or large. But, do something in light of the conversation. It is too easy to get into the habit of gleaning advice for what we will hopefully do someday but never make the small changes that are possible today.

The opportunity to receive counsel from others is a valuable one. I would not be where I am today if it were not for people who invested small amounts of their time to help a young church planter. And even today I am grateful for people who help me to think through issues I am facing in ministry and in life.

It is a privilege to learn at the feet of others, and it is one that should not be taken for granted but should be used to its fullest potential.  

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.