Life Compass
Keeping You Pointed in the Right Direction

Is There A Doctor “Phil” In The House?

Oprah made Dr Phil a household name with his guest appearances on her show. Then he launched his own program which is now up to nearly 1,500 installments. Dr Phil’s homespun “get real” advice has made hugely popular with some and hated by others. Critics have called his credentials into play and dismiss his over simplistic approach to problem solving. The same has been said of Dr Laura on the radio.

In Christian circles Dr James Dobson has been the benchmark of advice to parents and pastors alike on everything from marriage to raising children. He no sooner stepped down from Focus On The Family then he turned around and started a new ministry and daily radio program. Self help, self improvement books fly off the shelves of secular and Christian bookstores alike. Much of the criticism of ministries like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers accuses them of using pop psychology and self esteem, feel good teaching in their sermons and just mixing some verses in. Personally, I like Joyce. And she is more blunt, in your face, and hard on peoples’ excuses of their own disfunction than most Marine Drill Instructors are on recruits. Why? She lived through and was the example of the very emotional issues she now teaches on and admonishes others to get over and get on with it.

We have all watched, listened, surfed the net, read, and explored information and ways to change things about ourselves or improve our way of living. We have all over simplified the problems of others while complicating our own. We have all offered advice, counsel, and opinion in the lives of others even though it may not have been sought, asked for, or relevant. We have all been Dr Phil. Pastors and preachers often times will use the pulpit as expressing the “Gospel of You According to Me.” I’ve done it. I plead guilty.

Where is the line crossed from offering an opinion regarding a situation to giving an authoritative diagnosis from an amateur that could be more harmful than helpful?

Just because someone took a pyschology class or has never missed an episode of Dr Phil doesn’t make them right. Just because someone knows labels, terms, and how to list the 5 this or the 7 that’s which means you MUST be this or that does not mean they are correct or even accurate.

We all offer opinions about people and situations that we may not have any real or direct connection to. That’s one thing. But when  someone “knows” about what someone else did (based on third or fourth hand sources or news-internet accounts) and they declare, “well this person is obviously this and he probably has this, this, and this in his life and therefore we must do this, this, and this” is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Judging the actions of a person and stating an opinion is one thing. Judging the heart, mind, and soul of a man and then making declarative statements about that person with no real connection or first hand, personal involvement is reckless at best and potentially life damaging at worst depending on where one is spouting these comments.

I can offer opinions about Harold Camping based on his views and statements which he has made very public. I can say, “he’s wrong … Bible doesn’t teach that … I think he’s crazy” and it simply my opinion or observation. BUT if I say, “Camping said these things because he obviously has deep rooted sexual issues stemming from an abusive childhood. He’s a classic case and fits the profile.” That would not be an opinion. That would be slander. That would be a sin.

“So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another  any more: but  judge this rather,that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’sway.” Romans 14:12-13