rebelling against low expectations

How do you handle conflicting advice?


LAURA WRITES: What do you do when you receive conflicting advice? I’m trying to make some decisions about college plans, and all of the people who I’ve asked for advice have different ideas. One family member says one college would be good for me, while another says that specific college would be a very bad choice. One says to avoid debt at all costs, yet another says that it’s worth going into debt to get a quality education.

I’ve not had to make many decisions without the agreement of family and friends. How do I do it when they don’t agree with each other?

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  • Do your possible choices honour God? If your walk with God is heathly and you know that either choices will glorify God…Than you can pick what you want 🙂

    And if you feel God doesn’t want you somewhere…Don’t go.

    Still Godly guidance is a good thing…Don’t neglect it 🙂

  • Hi Laura!

    Well, first of all, I would suggest that you pray a lot about this. Prayer is always very helpful. Even if you just sat in God’s presence.
    Second, it would be very nice and helpful to you in the future if you could avoid debts. There is a person named Dave Ramsey who has set up a way to stay out of debt when you are in college. His website link is here: My mother listens to him all of the time and my whole family actually follows his plan. He reaches out to all ages whether you’re little with a piggy-bank or you’re a grown adult and looking to buy a house. All different types of things. So I would suggest looking at what he has to offer. You could find his books at the library even.
    Third, I think that maybe you should look into all of the colleges your family and friends are suggesting. Even the ones that they say are bad. Maybe get some info on why they are good or bad. And ask your family members why they’re good or bad can help you out too.

    So just know that God is always there and you can turn to Him for help and advice. Even looking at the Bible too!

    I hope this helps you Laura and I wish you blessings!


  • Some random pieces of advice:

    1. Kind of like guy in chicago said, pick which ever option glorifies God the most.

    2. If this is the Laura I’m thinking of, 😉 then I think you’re a smart person and can make good decisions. So know that it’s ultimately up to you.

    3. Make a pros and cons list for each option, and go over the Pros of college A with the person who dislikes it, and the Cons of college B with the person who wants you to go to college B.

    4. As far as debt goes, Romans 13:8 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” “Owe no one anything” is pretty straightforward, there can’t be that much controversy over it. =)

    Hope this helps! =)

    • Personally, I like the anti-debt idea too (especially if you consider we’re moving into a world-wide recession/depression). “God pays for what He orders.”

    • The debt part is straightforward, but like I said in my post up top, sometimes it can’t be helped in the modern context. People have to take out loans to buy properties and pay for college, and sometimes that’s just the way it is.

      I’m not trying to refute the Bible, and the points you make are good: Christians should try to stay out of debt as much as possible, and should be wise. But it’s almost impossible to not stay out of debt today.

      • Another interpretation would be that, say you get a loan, if you pay your payment, you don’t “owe anything” until the next month. (Note: not trying to start a debate about interpretation of the Bible.)

  • Well, I would be in the camp of disagreeing with @GuitarwithArms:disqus in terms of debt, but whatever. I would say this about college debt: avoid it if possible. But I don’t think that should involve choosing a school you really hate just because of finances. Don’t go into debt only to go into a career in which you don’t get paid enough to pay it off quickly. Look at the reasons these people are giving you advice about colleges. Do they have personal experiences there, good or bad? Are their reasons really applicable to you? How well do they know you?

    My Bible teacher, when I’ve had discussions with him about colleges, has recommended that I (and other students) go to one of the state schools here in California over a private Christian school, mainly for cost reasons. And I think he has a point—in addition to the cost advantages, it’s in many ways easier to be a witness for God in a place where most people are not professing Christianity.

  • Hey Laura!
    I don’t have any earth-shattering advice for you, (I’m kinda/sorta in the same boat,) but I am praying for you as you make this decision. I have no doubt that God will lead you exactly where He wants you to be 🙂

  • Prayer. =) God will give you the answer. No one can make everyone in their life happy…so seek God who will never lead you astray and always give you the right advice!

  • I find it funny how you’re asking askin for advice on how to know what advice to take. Lol don’t take that wrong I just noticed it as soon as I read the name =) anyways everyone else has about summed up what could be said but prayer would definately be in the top of my list 🙂

  • Hi, Laura! I’m a Junior in high school, so I’m pretty much going through this same thing. So I know how you feel and how frustrating it can be.
    You should politely take everyone’s advice into consideration, but you should talk about it mostly to God. He is the one who holds your life. He already knows what he is going to do with you. I would just spend a lot of time in prayer about it. I’m not saying that He will tell you what to do right away. But He will in His timing.

    Jeremiah 29:11
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” Says the Lord. “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a FUTURE and HOPE.”

  • Each person is obviously going to have a different opinion from the next person. So here’s what I would do when considering advice:

    1. Consider where it’s coming from. For me, advice from my parents and grandparents are the most important opinions to me. Consider each of the people that you trust the most’s advice, and then it’s very likely that you’ll have to mix a lot of what those people say to come up with a sound plan that you like.

    2. If you’re not sure about one person’s advice, look it up in the Bible. There’s something about just about everything in there. 🙂

    3. Don’t pick something that you don’t feel like is the right thing just to please someone. In the end, all those people are not going to your college. It’s not actually about them, it’s about your future. So pray a lot, study each suggestion and school, and wherever God calls you to be, go there.

  • Run to the Word. Find the truths about God’s character and your place as a Christian; then look for what gives the best chances to act on that truth. For example, God loves a cheerful giver and it’s harder to give if you’re paying student loans all the time. We’re made to build cultures, will this help you do that? We’re supposed to make disciples, what school/job gives the best interactions with lost people? The church needs each other, will your career help them or take away from them? These are just a few questions but hopefully it can help you look at decisions through the gospel.

  • I’m going through a similar situation. Simple put, get your answer from God. It’s usually easier said than done, but it’s worth it!

  • Pray that God would lead you and give you wisdom in your decision. If you decide to take one person’s advice over the other, tactfully explain your reasons to the other person and also pray. But when you make your decision, think about it analytically–the Bible says to be wise.

    1) What field of study are you planning on going into? What kinds of jobs are available to people of your choice of career field? Would you need to go to graduate school? If you need to go to graduate school, does the grad school you want to get into judge your potential based on what college you attended for undergrad?

    2) Envision yourself in 10-20 years. Would you be able to pay off your school bills with the job you would receive from getting an education at that school? Would your career come full-circle with your education?

    Note that the Bible does say to stay out of debt. However, sometimes it honestly can’t be helped in the modern context (i.e., buying a property, paying for college, etc).

    There’s also the option of community college, which would certainly make things much cheaper.

    I don’t know your situation or where God is leading you with your life, but His will is sovereign, and rest assured that He is in control of your life. And ultimately, wherever your life ends up is His decision, not your family’s or your friends’ or even yours.

    • If debt can’t be helped in a modern context does that make the Bible’s advice irrelevant? I’m not trying to argue, just wondering.

      • No, certainly not! But sometimes it’s a matter of context and hermeneutics. I’m sure that if you look at the history behind Jesus’ statement and the historical situation they were in, it wouldn’t cost $500,000 to buy or build a home. Sometimes the Bible says some things, and the translation makes it mean a very different thing from our point of view versus from theirs. For example, Jeremiah 29:11 is often quoted as a kind of anthem for believers today. However, Jeremiah wasn’t addressing us–he was addressing the Israelites, if I remember correctly (apologies if my historical context is off, but I just remember my dad saying that the verse is often misquoted). So no, the Bible’s advice isn’t irrelevant to us today, and the Bible’s meaning is very clear: stay out of debt. But sometimes it takes a person who’s skilled in hermeneutics to decipher what precisely Paul and the other apostles were trying to say.

        Hope that helps, and I’m sorry–I wasn’t trying to cause any confusion!

        • Ok, so your example is a little bit saddening for me as Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite verse. But I think that even if this verse was originally about the Israelites, it applies to us to. God has plans for us just as much as the Israelites, so I don’t think that there is anything wrong with using this verse the way that it’s being used today.

          • Jeremiah 29:11 IS a very comforting verse, and I do like it, and yes, I do think that it does apply to us, as it kind of parallels Romans–“For all things work together for good to those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose”–but what I was trying to say that it wasn’t written in our context, necessarily. Maybe I shouldn’t have used that verse as an example; I totally get why you love it, and I know many people who do.

            Sorry for the confusion!

        • Thanks this really does help. But it sounds a bit like you’re saying the Bible is to muddled to be understood by normal people, right? It seems to me that the Bible is more of a teacher that we come to as the authority, then a piece of history to be picked apart by our knowledge. I don’t want to pick a fight, I’m just trying to understand.

          • God does, yes, but there are some practicalities that need to be addressed as well. I’m not trying to undermine its authority: I do believe that it IS the Word of God, inerrant, “breathed out by God” through His prophets, but it *was* originally written in Hebrew and Greek. Like any other language, there are some words and contexts that are rather hard to be translated into English, and sometimes it is hard for us to understand the *specific* meanings in English because the words are different. The audience was originally for Jews in the Old Testament, and Gentiles (Greeks, specifically) in the New Testament. God meant what He said, but He meant it in Hebrew and Greek, not in English. That’s why we need pastors and church leaders to help us understand the Bible for what it was written to be in its original language, versus what it was translated to be in different languages.

            God DOES protect His work, and He displays this through His allowance of us to study hermeneutics: through the pastors He calls, we can fully understand what He meant in the original language.

            That’s not to say that the Bible in English is wrong; it’s just that when translations occur, some of the meanings can get ambiguous. It’s perfectly clear in Hebrew or Greek; just not for us.

          • Okay, I think I agree with you. Careful study and help for the church are extremely important. But honesty I’m in over my head. I was just worried that hermeneutics was being an excuse instead of a help. Sorry.

  • As everyone else has said, prayer is the most important.
    I would suggest that you weigh up who the advice is coming from and why they’re saying it. People who know you really well and have a lot of life experience (think parents!!!) have opinions worth evaluating. That said, don’t worry about a myriad of advice because they can’t all know what’s best for you!
    Look at it openly and honestly by yourself, weighing up the pros and cons.
    I can imagine that it must be hard to go with decisions that some friends/family disagree with, but perhaps if you can nicely and clearly explain your reasons, they’ll be understanding.

  • I read somewhere recently that at some point people are going to give you a lot of conflicting advice about a decision, and after hearing them out, you need to take all of it to the Lord and ask Him. Rachel S. had a lot of good points. And whatever your decision, respect your parents even if you end up disagreeing. They probably know you better than just about anyone else. Be open with them about what you are really thinking, because sometimes they disagree just because you didn’t give them all the facts and when you clarify, it helps. ~Anna Grace

  • I think it’s important to distinguish between advice and suggestions. Sometimes what people tell you may not be intended as advice; it may simply be an enthusiastic statement of an idea. (For instance, one guy at my church told me recently that I should consider moving to Brisbane to study. In hindsight, though, I think this wasn’t so much a considered piece of advice as an idea – especially since this guy comes from Brisbane, and tends to state his ideas quite assertively.) So, don’t feel like you’ll always be offending people by disagreeing.

    And, as Anna Grace said, be open with your parents – show them the full situation, and listen to their ideas.

    And pray about it.

    And, sorry – that’s all I can think of at the moment. 🙂

  • Not to be too cheesy or anything, but in the end it’s up to God, listen to HIM more than the other people around you. And really pray about it, take some time alone, make a list of what you want in a college, what you’re looking to get out of it, etc.
    Listen to the advice of the people around you, but do not base your decisions on what other people want you to do- believe me that’s a lesson that has taken me waaay too long to learn.
    Praying for you- God Bless!!

  • I have two bits of advice for you:
    1. Remember that this is your life, not theirs. While getting advice from other people – particularly those who you trust and are older than you – is very wise, ultimately you need to live your own life. You have to live with your decisions, not them. You do what’s best for you within the parameters of what God’s calling you to do.
    2. The reason everyone’s advice is conflicting is because they’ve all had different experiences. What’s best for one person might not be what’s best for someone else. Therefore, take people’s advice within the context of their personality and their experience.
    3. I know I said two, but then I realized there was a third 🙂 Pray. Pray a lot. God will let you know where to go. I knew that I needed to be at my college the moment I set foot on campus for a visit. Pray, and then trust God to answer.

    If I didn’t make sense, let me know. Good luck with your decision!

  • @mimeforjesus:disqus , I would recommend that you sit down and have a group conversation. (Do they know they are contradicting each other?) Hearing it out for both sides can help sort things out.

    Like so many others have said, pray. Then act with whatever wisdom God has given you. If you think it would be better to not go in debt, don’t go in debt. I think you can obtain a sufficient education for far less than $20,000 (Getting mine for about $10,000), and if you are going for a BA, you can get an associates degree first and then decide.

    Another bit of advice I can give is that it doesn’t hurt to change your mind. Your desires can change, and your goals and tactics will change accordingly. But don’t be hasty in how you choose.

rebelling against low expectations

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