"It takes a great man to give sound advice tactfully, but a greater to accept it graciously." (Logan Pearsall Smith) Tactfulness is simply the ability to know what to say or do in order to avoid offending somebody. Some call it the necessary "social skill" in order to deal with "difficult" or "sensitive" situations. Truth be told, my tactfulness flies out the window if I get too tired, a little frustrated because I am behind on projects, or just don't take the time to think before I speak. If tactfulness is that hard to be consistent with as we respond to people and circumstances, then maybe this is why we have a few more opportunities to "put things right" than we'd really like! Sometimes we are on the receiving end of tactfulness, while at others we are expected to be the ones exhibiting a little. It goes both ways, but sometimes the opportunities are a little more "one-sided" because one of the individuals is just in need of it a little more because of their life events at the moment. Being on the receiving end of tactfulness is kind of like an extension of grace - we don't deserve the gentleness and wisdom of the other person's response to us, but we sure appreciate it!
My son, always remember what I have taught you; keep my instructions dear to your heart. If you do, they will be your guide to a long, healthy, prosperous life. Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth; engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck; meditate on them so they are written upon your heart. In this way, you will win the favor of God and others, and they will think well of you. (Proverbs 3:1-4 VOICE)
We can receive gracious advice at times when we most need it which often changes the attitude we have toward the thing we are dealing with. That advice kind of "balances" us by adding a type of "counter-weight" to the stressful pressure of the moment which has caused an imbalance within our perception, attitude, or responses. Those who learn to be the "counter-balance" in another's life have truly learned to be a blessing!
Gracious advice is more than just "cutting someone a little slack" at the moment. It carries the idea of being compassionate toward the other person, with whatever is needed to demonstrate the measure of grace that individual needs at the moment. It may be we just respond with kind words, but it could be we lend a hand, helping them to get beyond the thing which has become a frustration to them.
Some of the best "advice" I have received is not just that which came in words, but was also accompanied by some pretty significant action which helped me move beyond the hurdle in front of me. We tend to think of advice as words, but helping someone find the solution they need to the problem they are facing can often mean we get our hands dirty in the process! Advice in a godly sense goes beyond "recommendations" given in word alone!
The greatest "advice" we give to others is to always infuse truth into the circumstance at hand. It may the one thing which is missing because the individual is so focused on what isn't working they cannot see all the parts which are working well. It is like seeing one crack in the block wall and believing the entire wall needs to be replaced. Often we just need to replace one section in order for the entirety to be whole again. When we infuse godly wisdom into the circumstance, it is like we help to bring someone out of their "laser focused" concern about the issue into the place they can see the bigger picture and remember there is a solution in reach. Truth will never steer us wrong! Just sayin!