How are you at handling criticism or advice? Are you receptive to friends, family, and co-workers offering you words of wisdom that could help propel you past the impasse that perhaps you find yourself mired in? Do you take suggestions from those closest to you to heart, or do you dismiss them?
What about on the flip side?
Have you ever made a suggestion to a friend or family member, only to have your input seemingly swept aside? You try your best to offer up some sound advice, or perhaps share an idea that could possibly improve things, but the response is luke-warm at best.
What's more is that many times your friend or co-worker will hear the very same advice from another source, and suddenly it's the best idea he or she has ever heard! Brutal!
A friend of mine, Jamie Maddox, uses this quote all the time. I don't remember who said it, but someone once said, "You can be as successful as you want to be as long as you don't mind who gets the credit."
And, if you are someone who likes to offer up unsolicited ideas and suggestions to others, this is something you are going to have to deal with - like it or not.
I'm not sure why, but there's something about hearing things outside your inner circle that flips on the proverbial light switch. Many leaders may have already come up with the answer to their dilemma long ago. But, they've been sitting on it. They may be afraid to act, or they are reluctant to make a change for a multitude of reasons. And, it's not until someone completely outside their sphere of influence makes a comment that they feel empowered to act upon it.
Jesus knew something about this. He said that a prophet is without honor in his hometown. Basically, he knew that those who claimed to know the leader best (or the longest) would be the ones most likely to reject his teachings. Consequently, Jesus spent very little time in his hometown trying to talk some sense into these stubborn people.
Instead, he made the most of his time - and others' - by investing in the lives of those who were going to be receptive to his message of grace and love.
So, what does that mean for us? Does that mean that we don't waste our time offering up suggestions to those closest to us? Nope. It just means we have to make sure that our personal worth isn't rooted in the opinions of others. We cannot look to others for validation - only to God.
And, if you are in a position of leadership, and you are subjected to ideas and advice constantly being thrown at you, do your best to help the individual offering suggestions feel like they are truly being heard. And, second, don't automatically dismiss an idea from a loved one. Remember, your friends and family almost always have your best interests at heart.
And, you never know. The most sound advice may come from the most unexpected source!