Constructive Guidance


What steps can you take to be certain that your motivation for admonishing your spouse is true care and concern for him or her?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition . . . but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3, NIV

Admonition: constructive guidance in what to avoid; warning.

That definition of admonition has a positive feel to it. But I (Teresa) must admit that my admonitions have not always sounded so positive. I readily confess that I'm a take-charge kind of person. David has called this my "whip and drive" mode of operation, and it has at times been a point of contention in our marriage. No matter how good my intentions may be, sometimes my tendency to "whip and drive" overshadows my well-meaning attempts to give constructive guidance.

I certainly had the best intentions when I warned David about the speed traps lurking around the next turn in the road. I really didn't want to see him get another ticket. But, unfortunately, David didn't receive my admonitions as positive or constructive guidance. I suppose my technique needed some work. I don't think I used the most positive words when I said, "David, slow down! Didn't you see the speed limit sign back there? You're going way too fast for this neighborhood."

David might have sensed that I was sharing these words because of my own agenda. I didn't want to hassle with the insurance company. I didn't want to be stopped by the police and embarrassed once again. I didn't want David to have to be gone another Saturday for a defensive-driving course.

I must admit, my attempt at admonition that day was all about me. Me! Me! Me!

I finally decided to stop trying to control David's driving and let God do the admonishing.

When I did that, I soon discovered that not only was he more responsive to my warnings, but I was freer to focus on all the things he does right.

That's what true admonition looks like!

What steps can you take to be certain that your motivation for admonishing your spouse is true care and concern for him or her?

Heavenly Father, help me work on the way I present my constructive guidance. Give me the right words, tone of voice, and timing.

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