Often, advice from successful Christian men and women boils down to platitudes that sound spiritual, but reflect neither wisdom nor what those very people did to become successful.
Here are things I heard in sermons to college students when I was in college or that I heard when I asked for advice:
- Ask God for guidance.
- Listen and see what God tells you to do.
- Your early twenties is a good time to spend yourself on volunteer work (usually the mission cause of the agency represented by the preacher) because you won’t have time when you’re older.
- Just wait on God.
- Don’t worry about that kind of thing, God will provide.
When somebody reads that list, they are likely to think, “Of course that makes sense, it’s all good advice.”
I call foul.
I think evangelical Christianity is so influenced by this very language that we often cannot even tell that what we’re saying makes no sense.
If a young Christian man asks an older Christian man a question like, “How can I make more friends?” He’s obeying Scripture when it says, “with many counselors there is victory.” He’s probably asking because he feels lonely or gets picked on often and he sees the man he asks as successful and likable. But many people, instead of giving advice based on their own experience say the silly nonsense I mentioned above, even though the man who was asked does things like dresses well, makes interesting conversations, listens to others, and has masculine body language.
Similarly, somebody who is wondering what to major in is often told to pray about it and listen to the Lord to find his calling, even though the Bible never says that God will tell you what to major in, in college. The Bible does say, to “pray for wisdom” (James 1:5) and to gain skill in order to be successful (Proverbs 22:29).
Anyway, Christianese is usually not biblical and is almost never helpful. Don’t give it and don’t believe it when you hear it. Also, try asking better questions like, “what did you do to get ‘x'” or “if you were me, what would you do differently to achieve ‘y’.”