Tag Archives: Proverbs

The Best Business Book

What’s your business library look like? How many books on leadership, business development, culture, strategic planning or other topics do you have on your shelves or on your electronic devices? I’m an avid reader and have over 100, mostly on bookshelves. There is one book that everyone, especially business owners, should be reading on a daily basis and that’s the Bible. When I had the opportunity in 2001 to become a business owner for the first time I bought a copy of Larry Burkett’s “Business by the Book”. Burkett wrote twenty one chapters on how to apply Biblical principles to running a business. It had a significant impact on how I ran my business and I continue to recommend it to business owners as a must read.

In addition to reading Burkett’s book though, you should go to his source material, the Bible. Why should business owners read the Bible? God uses the words of Paul to tell us one reason in 2nd Timothy, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17: “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.” It is filled with leadership examples, both good and bad versions. Did you know that the first example of delegation was described in Exodus chapter 18 when Jethro gave Moses instructions on how to select capable leaders from among the Israelites to assist Moses in resolving common disputes?  The book of Proverbs of course is commonly known to contain much wisdom, being written primarily by Solomon. Here are a few verses from chapter one, speaking to its purpose (verse 2 through 4):

“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.”

Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.  Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.” How much of the material in current business books is truly new information? The book of Psalms can be inspiring, both when you are at a high and when you are at a low.

In the Gospels Jesus teaches us how to interact with people and how to be a servant leader. Everyone knows the Golden Rule right? “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). Isn’t that the basis of all excellent customer service?

The best approach is to read the Bible start to finish at least once and continue to read Bible passages on a daily basis. You will gain a lot of wisdom and understanding, applicable in business and life. The Old Testament tells the story of God’s creation and relationship with mankind and contains the creation of the universe, the history of the patriarchs, the exodus from Egypt, the formation of Israel as a nation, the subsequent decline and fall of the nation, the Prophets (who spoke for God), and the Wisdom Books. The New Testament (the name refers to the new covenant between God and humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) chronicles the life and ministry of Jesus, the growth and impact of the early church, and instructive letters to Christ followers and finishes with the end of the story, that all who have not turned away will live with God and Jesus in a new heaven on a new earth.

R.C. Sproul provides a good reading plan for those who want an overview but aren’t quite ready to read the whole Bible. Here is his list and you can read his article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/get-basic-overview-bible/. I would add the book of Revelation to his list.

The Old Testament overview:

  • Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
  • Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
  • Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
  • Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
  • 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
  • 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
  • 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
  • 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
  • Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
  • Nehemiah (the restoration of Jerusalem)
  • Amos and Hosea (examples of minor prophets)
  • Jeremiah (an example of a major prophet)
  • Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)
  • Psalms and Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)

The New Testament overview:

  • The Gospel of Luke (the life of Jesus)
  • Acts (the early church)
  • Ephesians (an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
  • 1 Corinthians (life in the church)
  • 1 Peter (an introduction to Peter)
  • 1 Timothy (an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
  • Hebrews (Christology)
  • Romans (Paul’s theology)

The New Zealand Bible Society has a great 13 minute video that provides a big picture overview of the Bible: http://www.biblesociety.org.nz/get-resources/for-churches/for-youth-leaders/the-big-pic-for-churches.

Twenty years ago as a new Christ follower I bought an NIV Study Bible and did my reading using it. In the last few years I have come to use the Bible app from YouVersion (www.bible.com) on my phone and iPad for my daily reading. There are numerous reading plans available on that platform, including topical, devotional, partial and whole Bible plans. If you prefer audio to reading, you can also listen to the Bible using the YouVersion apps.

Grow yourself as a leader, invest some time every day, morning or evening, in reading the best business book available and see the benefits lived out in your life, relationships and business.

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Intelligence, Knowledge and Wisdom

Intelligence, knowledge and wisdom are all things we possess to a certain degree. Many would like to see growth in each of these areas throughout our lives. Is there a difference between them? Can we personally contribute to an increased level of each? Let’s start with definitions of each. First, intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Synonyms:          intellectual capacity, mental capacity, intellect, mind, brain(s), IQ, brainpower, judgment, reasoning, understanding, comprehension

Those who study intelligence (they must be intelligent to do so, right?) further break down the definition into either two or even as many as nine types versions of intelligence. The two primary types are crystallized (the ability to use all the learned knowledge and experience stored in our heads) and fluid (general ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns, solve problems, and discern relationships). Here’s the list of the nine types:

  1. Linguistic Intelligence — ability to use words
  2. Spatial Intelligence — ability to imagine pictures in your mind
  3. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence — ability to use your body in various situations
  4. Musical Intelligence —ability to use and understand music
  5. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence — ability to apply logic to systems and numbers
  6. Intrapersonal Intelligence — ability to understand your own inner thoughts
  7. Interpersonal Intelligence — ability to understand other people, and relate well to them
  8. Naturalist Intelligence — ability to connect with other living beings, including plants and animals
  9. Existential Intelligence — ability to explore issues of existence such as the meaning of life

Next, knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Synonyms:          understanding, comprehension, grasp, command, mastery; expertise, skill, proficiency, expertness, accomplishment, adeptness, capacity, capability

Knowledge is what we gain from school and other places of education, as well as what we read, hear and experience in life.

Finally, wisdom: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

Synonyms:          sagacity, intelligence, sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, smartness, judiciousness, judgment, prudence, circumspection

Wisdom is usually demonstrated by the results of decisions and choices. People who are known as wise typically have a lot of experiences and knowledge, along with intelligence (and often grey hair).

So, with some basic definitions to start with, how can we grow our intelligence, knowledge and wisdom?

We tend to think of intelligence as something we are born with and can’t really change ourselves. A number of studies show that we can in fact grow our intelligence by exercising our brains, challenging it with problem solving and seeking new things. Read more things, meet new people, try new activities, play different games and puzzles.

Growing knowledge is a bit clearer, but not necessarily any easier. Doing the work of growing your knowledge will also exercise your brain, increasing your intelligence along the way. Reading, listening to audio books or podcasts, taking classes and attending seminars are all methods of adding to your accumulated pool of knowledge.

My view of wisdom has a biblical foundation. A search of the word “wisdom” in the New Living Translation version of the Bible came up with 214 hits. The first reference is in Genesis when Eve tasted the forbidden fruit because she wanted the wisdom it would give her. A number of times throughout the Old Testament it is reported that God granted wisdom to certain leaders. The most famous of these wise leaders of course is Solomon, who asked for wisdom. Here’s the relevant passage from 1 Kings 3:7-12:

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!

Solomon was given wisdom by God and applied it to his 40 year reign as king of Israel. Unfortunately, he also wasted it and made poor decisions, especially after he experienced success and prosperity. Solomon forgot where his wisdom came from and instead of retaining his humility became prideful and arrogant, turning away from God and his commandments and in effect, losing the gift God had given him. Fortunately, God chose to inspire Solomon to share his wisdom and life lessons learned with us through the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

The beginning of Proverbs makes it clear:

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. – Proverbs 1:1-7.

So there is an answer for those who want to grow in wisdom. First, ask God for it (I do so almost daily) and second, read the Bible (I also do that almost daily). Third, get advice from others who have demonstrated wisdom (Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. – Proverbs 11:14). Finally, be humble, not prideful and arrogant, remembering that wisdom is a gift from God, give Him the credit when you demonstrate wisdom.

 

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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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