Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

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Conflict Resolution: Which Path? – Proverbs 15:1

March 29, 2020

“A soft answer will turn away wrath,
but a word of trouble will stir anger.”

Imagine we have a difficult hike to make. Our destination is a community of peace on the opposite side of a mountain.  This mountain is large and formidable.  There are areas of instability, where a rock slide could sweep us away. There are vast stretches lacking any springs for refreshment.

Obviously, the shortest course will be to go directly over the mountain.  These routes are poorly marked and likely filled with all the hardship of an ill-advised expedition.  Many have tried these routes, but few parties ever arrived at the community of peace intact.

The other route is long.  It meanders along the valleys and ravines. The path is broad, following a refreshing stream.  Travelers wind past hazards while slowly gaining elevation.  

Often, the gains are imperceptible causing travelers to become discouraged and set off on more direct routes. Those routes rarely lead up the mountain.  Often, these impatient travelers find themselves once again at the base of the same mountain or a new one.

The patient traveler diligently stays on the long path with his destination firmly fixed in his mind.  The goal for these patient parties is not simply to overcome the mountain but to summit the mountain as a group, not as individuals.  The long route is the most likely path for the group to achieve their goal and reach the community of peace but it takes uncommon endurance.

I consider conflict a mountain.  Conflicts are barriers to peace and unity, just like a mountain separating you from your destination.  Conflicts are difficult with a lot of hazards which can result in even more barriers if not handled carefully.

Some refuse to deal with conflict.  They are like the travelers that never leave camp.  They sit at the base of a mountain and wonder why the conflict never goes away.

Some choose a direct route.  They say it like it is.  They don’t select their words carefully and rarely listen for a response without an interpretation.  These direct routes often include “words of trouble” that only stir up more anger.  Many, on a direct route, excuse their course as being part of their nature. As if, they had no other choice but a direct confrontation.  

In my experience, directness is not a personality trait.  The direct person is usually either impatient or selfish (unloving).  Those on the direct route rarely get off the mountain of conflict.  It is where they live.  They feel like the world is out to get them, never realizing that they are the ones continuing to raise more mountains (barriers).

Gentleness of tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it causes a break in spirit. Proverbs 15:4 

The long route is hard, mostly because it involves a lot of self-control.  Yet, gentleness takes time.  Soft words must be allowed to seep in and moderate the heart of a conflict.  Kindness has to be kindled and love often must be demonstrated through long-suffering.  Conflict resolution requires consideration, which will rarely be granted when there is a break in spirit. 

Travelers of the long route must value gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, and love.  I don’t see travelers on direct routes valuing those same attributes.  Is it any wonder that a world valuing direct, powerful, harsh, responses is a world mired in conflict?

Conflict is not fun.  However, the mountain will never go away until it is surmounted.  If you are ready to deal with your mountain, what route are you going to take? May I encourage you to take the long way?

 Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3–4

https://ref.ly/Pr15.1 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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The Fruit of Deception – Proverbs 6:12–15

March 20, 2020

“A worthless man, an evil man,
goes around with deceitful speech.
Winking in his eye, shuffling in his foot,
pointing in his fingers,
perversion in his heart, he devises evil;
at all times he will send out discord.
Upon such a man, suddenly shall his calamity come;
in a moment he will be damaged and there is no healing”

I recently had an employee who appeared to be a great “marketer”. He had a big personality; a fill-the-room type of presence.  In the world of consulting engineering, it is hard to find people who like to do the cold-call marketing.  This guy seemed made for it.

He had a great resume. He had great experience.  He had a philosophy for a great cultural fit.

Yet, with all that greatness potential, I fired him.

I fired him because greatness doesn’t trump deceitfulness.

It took me over a year of trying to work with him; trying to get his greatness to flourish without the discord that continued to fester.  It took me over a year to realize that there actually was no greatness.  His shtick was a deceptive illusion.

I had been deceived by a carefully crafted resume that masterfully gave false impressions.  I had been deceived into believing that a person who taught the principles of how I try to manage, would actually practice it.

So, I endured a year of discord.  A year of smoothing down ruffled feathers.  A year of confronting and encouraging the proper behaviour.  A year of scratching my head in hopes that I would not have to give up on someone.

But then came that last straw of deception and I had no choice but to fire him without warning.  

Upon such a man, suddenly shall his calamity come;
in a moment he will be damaged and there is no healing

I always hope when I fire a person that it will be a wake up call and they will change their behavior.  However, I don’t have much hope.  I recently saw his updated LinkedIn profile.  His description of his work while under my employment is…more deception.

Therefore, I conclude that Proverbs is as relevant today as it was in Solomon’s time.  This man has…

perversion in his heart, he devises evil;

This man needs Jesus.  Without Jesus, none of us can ever experience the greatness for which we were individually created.  Jesus is the only one who can cure a deceitful heart because a deceitful heart comes from a perverse heart, which is a evil heart.  

We all need Jesus, every day!  Therefore, this man will stay in my prayers for God to do a miracle and change his heart.  The same miracle He did for me.

https://ref.ly/Pr6.12-15 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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“SOLOMON’S WISH” – April 3

April 3, 2013

“In that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.” 2 Chronicles 1:7

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you ask for? (You can’t ask for unlimited wishes.)

English: Solomon and the Plan for the Temple, ...I think that most of us have played this game before.  It is an insightful game to play.  It has the tendency to reveal what a person perceives as their source of contentment.  My wife’s grandfather, Grandpa Buck, was playing this game with his daughter.  His wish was to buy the largest tractor and plow and plow the world.  He loved to watch soil roll under the edge of a good plow.  He was a true farmer at heart and that was reflected in his source of contentment.

Most of us will never win the lottery or be granted a wish so it remains a game.

Solomon had a very unique experience.  Solomon had the opportunity to play this game for real.  God allowed him one wish.  The God of all creation allowed Solomon to ask what He should give to him.  That is a big request.  I think that it is a revealing request.  I think that what he chose revealed his greatest insecurity at the time.  His father, David, said of Solomon, “my son, whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God.”  David understood that the construction of the temple was going to be a significant challenge for any person and particularly for a person who was young and inexperienced.  Solomon was probably more aware of the challenge than most as he walked through the large quantities of building materials that his father had stored up and the number of craftsmen that were awaiting his command.

What would you ask for if you had such a challenge as Solomon’s?

Solomon asked for “wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?”  That request makes sense from a person who has just become king and has the task of constructing a temple for God and is probably insecure in his abilities.  We also need to remember that the transition from David to Solomon was not without a challenge from his brother Adonijah.

I wonder if Solomon wasted his wish.  I realize that God blessed his wish and his wish was much better than many other things that he could have asked for but I still wonder if there was a better wish that he could have made.  I wonder if Solomon at the end of his days looked back and wished that he had chosen better.

I don’t think David would have picked wisdom and knowledge for his son.  That is not what he had prayed for his son.  David prayed, “Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provisions.” (1 Chronicles 29:19)  David did not tell his son to seek out wisdom and understanding.  David told Solomon, “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”(1 Chronicles 28:9)

David knew that all men’s greatest source of contentment comes from God.  Every man’s greatest need is a whole heart and a willing mind that seeks after God.

Consider if Solomon’s request would have been the same as his father’s.  The downfall of Solomon was his wayward heart.  He retained all his wisdom and knowledge, yet his kingdom was ripped apart.  The granting of his request did not work out like he would have hoped.

Solomon’s many wives turned away his heart. (1 Kings 11:3)  He did not have a whole heart for God and he did what was evil in the sight of God and did not wholly follow the Lord (1 Kings 11:6).  God tore the kingdom apart because of Solomon’s divided heart.

David’s prayer was a better request.

If Solomon had made David’s request for a heart and mind that wholly and willingly served God, I don’t think Solomon’s reign would have ended as it did.  Solomon’s problem was not a lack of experience.  It was not a lack of wisdom and understanding of the principles of governing people.  Solomon’s primary problem, like every person’s, was a divided heart.  David knew that.

Solomon thought that contentment would be found in wisdom, knowledge, and ruling his people well.  One only needs to read Ecclesiastes to realize that Solomon did not find contentment in any of that.  He concluded that it was all vanities.

David knew that our contentment was created in such a way that there is only one thing that will satisfy it.  Contentment will only be realized when it is matched with it’s maker, God.  Man’s greatest need is for a whole heart and willing mind that seeks after God.

Where is your heart and mind?  Is your heart divided like Solomon’s?  Is your mind reluctant and resistant to serving God?  What have you been asking God for?

Jesus told us that all we have to do is ask him.  Have your requests been more like Solomon’s or David’s?

May we not make the same mistake as Solomon and choose the request that matches our immediate insecurities.  Let’s be making the better request.   Let’s ask God to grant us a whole heart – a heart totally devoted – and a willing mind that will address our greatest need.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have prayed for wisdom and knowledge many times.  I need wisdom and knowledge.  However, You know that is not my greatest need.  You know that my greatest problem is my divided heart and unwilling mind.  Father, grant me a heart that is wholly yours; that wholly follows You; that wholly wants You.  Grant me a mind that willingly seeks You; that willingly serves you; that willingly is set upon you.  Make me a man who is wholly yours.  Amen

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