Tag Archives: Book of Proverbs

Do You Have a Council of Counselors?

It is the time of year that we typically look back over the last twelve months and take stock of what went well and what didn’t quite measure up to our ideas of success. We hopefully spend some time using the lessons of the past and planning for future accomplishments in the coming year. This is an exercise successful business owners definitely engage in. The most fruitful ones have some form of a council to help them, not only during this annual evaluation and planning time, but on a regular basis.

Why should you have some kind of council of counselors? God tells us through His instructions to us in the Bible that we should have trustworthy people giving us advice. Proverbs 12:15 states it this way in the New Living Translation: “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” There are many other such statements in Proverbs. As imperfect people, we tend to have weaknesses and blind spots that prevent us from making the right decision or doing the right thing 100% of the time. If we have some wise people around us as we go through life making these decisions and doing these things, they can hopefully help us avoid the wrong ones or at least make a proper course correction in the wake of mistakes.

Here are some suggestions from a C12 Group segment on how a Christian business owner can put together that helpful council of counselors:

■ Formal Board of Directors – common for large or public companies

■ Christian Peer Advisory Board – A group such as C12 provides a readymade format for asking and receiving counsel, being challenged by best practice ideas, and submitting issues and plans to other committed Christians for feedback. C12 also provides a degree of accountability, prayer, planning, and one-on-one counsel.

■ Council of Advisors – Another resource that can complement either of the prior two alternatives is meeting with a smaller group of trustworthy colleagues (often two to four local C12 members and/or church members). Real benefit can be generated by meeting together regularly for counsel, accountability, and prayer. Due to their informality and small size, a COA can provide an opportunity for deeper intimacy which many C12 members have found to be extremely helpful.

■ Mentor – More than teachers, mentors are generally role models with more experience or authority in areas where we desire to grow. Teachers impart knowledge; mentors impart life. Long-term mentors are difficult to come by, but they can be hugely beneficial.

If you aren’t a business owner you can still benefit from having a council of counselors. I’ve found that having a group of three additional people of the same sex that meet together at least twice a month for at least 90 minutes each time provide a good format for sharing life and getting advice on the challenges we all face. Having a small number of all men or all women in the group fosters a higher degree of transparency and trust that is difficult to achieve in a larger group of men and women.

As you gather together with your council, here are six common characteristics of finishing well that you could pose to them, asking if there is evidence of these characteristics in your life.

 The Six Common Characteristics of Finishing Well

Develop and fight to:

  1. Hold an Eternal Perspective. Don’t get caught up in the short term thinking of the culture. Eternity is considerably longer than even the longest life we could possibly have.
  2. Build Intimacy with Jesus Christ. In Philippians 4:13 we are told “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” A relationship requires time conversing. To converse with Jesus Christ you need to read His words in the Bible and spend time talking to Him through prayer.
  3. Maintain Self-Discipline. The self-discipline being raised here is avoiding “many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction” Timothy warns us about.
  4. Maintain Open and Accountable Relationships. This is a key part of having a council you can trust and be transparent with. They also need to be able to challenge you when you have a blind spot.
  5. Maintain a Teachable Spirit and a Lifetime of Learning. Proverbs 11:2 is one of a number of verses that tell us “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” I can trace nearly all my worst mistakes back to pride and arrogance. I can trace nearly all of my successes to wisdom that came from someone else that I acted on.
  6. Maintain a Heart to Help Others Finish Well. Since others need a council of counselors, invest time, energy and prayer in being a wise counselor for someone else, sharing the benefits that you are receiving from your council.

Best wishes for a fruitful and blessed year, one that is focused on relationships, both earthly and eternal!

 

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Do You Need Business Advice? Where Do You Get Yours?

If you are a business owner do you find it challenging to run that business successfully? Do things always go just as planned? Do you have week after week of your employees doing everything with excellence and exceeding expectations? Do your customers never complain and pay you early? Do your suppliers and vendors always deliver the products and services you need on time and on budget?

If these things are happening in your business every day, then please contact me so I can come to work for you! I don’t know any business owner who consistently experiences this kind of success. I didn’t experience it when I ran my IT company of twenty plus employees and I don’t consistently experience it now, even as a sole proprietor without any employees. The reality is that because the world is broken by sin, our businesses will always be broken too.

That doesn’t mean we should just give up and go home. We still have to provide for ourselves and our families. As business owners we also have an obligation to provide for our employees and their families. It will be a struggle at times, sometimes easier than others, but still a struggle.

So, given we will struggle at times, where do we get help and advice for those times? If you are a learning leader you probably spend time reading the latest business books and articles. That is one method that I agree with and encourage all leaders to do. But, as a Christian business owner the first source should be the Bible. The Bible itself tells us through the writing of Paul that it is the first place we should turn. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 he tells us:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

So, how do we apply that exhortation in our business? First, you need to be familiar with what’s in the Bible so you can apply the wisdom as you need it facing the challenges of the day. That means reading it regularly, ideally daily. The typical Bible is about 2,000 pages and some of it is not real easy to understand, so it requires a life-long study approach. A reading of the Old Testament will help you to understand how stubborn and thick-headed we can be.

The most valuable Bible book for a business owner is the book of Proverbs. Last year I read all 31 chapters in Proverbs each month and benefited greatly from reading it twelve times in a row. The first seven verses of the first chapter tell us why this is a good idea:

“These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

The next source of advice and counsel is trustworthy, like minded advisers as Proverbs 15:22 tells us:

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.”

The C12 Group is one great place to find these advisers. The members of the groups are there to give and get good advice and to hold and be held accountable. They want to do the right things in order to be successful and more importantly, to do them in a God honoring way. They know the people around the table have the same values and will be transparent when sharing problems and honest when giving advice. The C12 Group also provides a structured framework at the monthly meeting to help the members share their issues and get that valuable advice. We have the added benefit of a morning full of biblical and business content to read and discuss, increasing our knowledge every month.

If you don’t have access to a C12 Group in your geography then try to find some other Christian business owners, six to twelve would be a good number, and commit to meeting once a month and share your issues. I recommend starting that meeting with a devotional. If you don’t have any other business content, then half a day should be enough time for the issues sharing.

Read your Bible every day, pray without ceasing and regularly get wise counsel from other Christian business owners and you will be better equipped to meet the challenges you will face today and tomorrow!

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Get Your Daily Dose of Wisdom

This year I have been using a Bible reading plan called Project 345+ to help me meet my goal of reading from the Bible on a daily basis. The Project 345+ plan includes a reading from the book of Proverbs every day and with 31 chapters in Proverbs you get to start over almost every month, like today. Reading the book of Proverbs so many times this year has really impressed upon me how much wisdom there is for every one of us, regardless of age, gender, family role or work role. I’d like to share some of the passages I have highlighted in my readings, grouped by some major themes. I hope you find them as beneficial as I have this year. The verses quoted are from the New Living Translation.

This is just a small portion of the great wisdom available in not only Proverbs, but the rest of the Bible. If you read something here that challenges or upsets you, consider this verse from chapter 19 of Proverbs; “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord” and these from 2 Timothy 3; “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Read more of these from the source and read from it every day. Youversion.com has many reading plans to choose from, including 3 day plans and 1 year plans. You will see change in yourself if you make that commitment.

The book begins with a description of the purpose of Proverbs:

1:1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. 2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. 4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. 5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance 6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Benefits of gaining wisdom:

2:6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. 11 Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. 12 Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.

3:1 My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. 2 If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. 3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

4:10 My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. 11 I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. 12 When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. 13 Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

8:10 Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. 11 For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.

8:32 “And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful. 33 Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.

9:11 Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. 12 If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.

15:22 Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.

15:31 If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.

18:15 Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

30:5 Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. 6 Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.

 Stewardship:

3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.

10:16 The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.

11:24 Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. 25 The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

21:26 Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!

23:4 Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.

30:8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. 9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.

 Caring for others:

3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.

11:30 The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.

14:31 Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.

19:17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and he will repay you!

22:9 Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.

28:27 Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.

 Work is worthy:

5:10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

10:26 Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.

21:5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

27:18 As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded.

28:19 A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.

Evidence and repercussions of foolish behavior (mostly via your words):

10:8 The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

10:14 Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.

10:19 Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

10:32 The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.

11:12 It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet. 13 A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. 14 Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.

12:15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. 16 A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.

12:23 The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness.

13:3 Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. 4 Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.

14:16 The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

14:29 People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.

15:1 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

17:27 A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

18:13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

19:3 People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.

20:1 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.

28:2 When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.

29:11 Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.

Family conflict, children and parenting:

1:8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

4:1 My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, 2 for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions.

6:20 My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

13:1 A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.

13:24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

15:5 Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.

17:1 Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.

18:22 The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.

19:13 A foolish child is a calamity to a father; a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping. 14 Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the Lord can give an understanding wife.

19:18 Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.

20:7 The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.

21:19 It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.

22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

22:15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.

23:13 Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. 14 Physical discipline may well save them from death.

27:15 A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. 16 Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.

29:15 To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.

31:10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

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Knowledge and Wisdom: Lessons from Leadercast® and the Bible

I spent Friday, May 10th at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast® event, a one day leader development conference held in Atlanta and broadcast via satellite to about 750 sites. The theme of the event was “Simply Lead”. Like others in attendance, I was there to grow through learning from others. The speaker list was varied in background and experience, including Andy Stanley, David Allen, Henry Cloud, John Maxwell, Sanya Richards-Ross, Mike Krzyzewski, Condeleeza Rice, Jack Welch and Rorke Denver. As you might expect, the presentations and content was as varied as the speakers.

My favorite speaker was Andy Stanley, who shared three questions that a leader and those he is leading must know the answers to. 1. What are we doing? 2. Why are we doing it? 3. Where do I fit in? The point of knowing the answer to the three questions is to provide clarity for everyone involved.  One of the best pieces of practical advice from Andy is for each person in an organization to have a one sentence job description. Not easily done, but very helpful for everyone and a good way to provide clarity for the “Where do I fit in?” question.

There were a few things from the other speakers that were helpful, but where do I get knowledge and wisdom every day, not just at a one day event? Where can I turn when I need knowledge and wisdom to help me through a decision I have to make, a challenge I have to face? Fortunately, we have a great source readily available to us, at least in the English language. God gave us His Words in the form of the Bible, which is filled with wisdom, not just for leaders, but for everyone. If you are a leader, then you need to be reading the Bible daily as a source of wisdom and knowledge so you can be a better leader.

There is wisdom throughout every book of the Bible, mainly via the stories of the experiences and results of wise and poor decisions. This method of sharing knowledge and wisdom isn’t any different than the techniques used during the Leadercast® event by the speakers. Don’t you think you can learn something from Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, John, Peter and Paul, men who made great and sometimes horrible decisions?

Of course God gave us a book dedicated to the purpose of sharing knowledge and wisdom, Proverbs. Here is the purpose of Proverbs directly from the opening seven verses: “These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

If someone wrote a leadership book that offered those promises and delivered them, it would be a best seller. Guess what, the Bible does offer those promises and delivers them and it is a best seller. Even better it is available in many different formats and in many different versions (at least in English). Thanks to Lifechurch.tv the Bible is available electronically for many different devices through YouVersion.com and it’s free.

I have many verses highlighted talking about wisdom, knowledge, instruction. Here are a few, without reference, so you can demonstrate some leadership and search them out on your own:

My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Get the wisdom that can literally be in the palm of your hands and enjoy its benefits!

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