Nearly every morning for the past 5 years I have sat down and read a chapter from the book of Proverbs. Since there are 31 in all it sets up nicely for reading one a day. It continues to amaze me the depth of wisdom found in each chapter covering every area of life from relationships to money to career advice. If you have never read the book of Proverbs I highly recommend it. Here are seven that enjoy terribly and share with you in hopes that they will benefit you as much as they have me:
“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1
Ever had someone start defending themselves before you even threw out an accusation? Guilt has a funny way of making people weak and paranoid. We’ve all been there before and it’s a miserable way to live. Hence the huge weight being lifted off our shoulders we often experience when we confess a wrongdoing.
On the opposite end, if you live with integrity and complete honesty you are, “relaxed and confident,” using the words of Eugene Peterson. When the company has an audit or your work is investigated in some way you can be strong because you know you are in the right, bold as a lion.
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” – Proverbs 11:24
Most of us have heard the age-old adage, “It is better to give than receive,” and gave it a smile and nod, not paying it much mind. Perhaps though there is a bit more depth to this idea than we realize. Generosity obviously benefits the person on the receiving end, but the effects on the giver can be just as strong if not stronger. This principle applies to giving money as well as time and resources.
A 1998 study at Cornell University found that volunteering increases a person’s energy, self-esteem and sense of mastery over life. Other studies have shown that volunteers live longer and experience better health. In a famous study at Harvard, the “Mother Teresa effect” was born after, “Researchers showed 132 Harvard students a film about Mother Teresa’s work among the Calcutta’s poor, and then measured the level of immunoglobin A present in their saliva. The test revealed markedly increased levels of Immunoglobin A, which is the body’s first defense against the common cold virus — all after simply witnessing somebody else involved in charity work.” (Sound Medicine, emphasis mine). Start giving today!
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4
One of the most important decisions you will make in your life is who you marry. All of us have seen great marriages as well as terrible ones and the products of each seem to multiply over time. Nothing is worse than seeing two people suffering through a miserable marriage. It really is like decay in the bones. On the other hand, a great marriage is a pleasure to be around, the effects seem touch everyone in close proximity.
People often ask how I knew Marelize was “the one.” While I don’t think there’s a right answer to this question, I always say that I knew by the fact that I was proud to introduce her to my family and friends. When they would meet her for the first time I didn’t even feel like I needed to be in the same room. She could shine on her own and I knew they would see the quality of her character without me needing to point it out. A spouse with character is indeed a great reward.
“One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7
In a culture that worships the rich and famous it is common to see people trying to project the image of wealth without actually having any. And just the process of trying to look like you have it all can actually keep you from really acquiring any of it. Going into debt in an attempt to keep up with the Jones’ is incredibly foolish, but all too common.
As Warren Buffet so aptly stated, “I just naturally want to do things that make sense. In my personal life too, I don’t care what other rich people are doing. I don’t want a 405 foot boat just because someone else has a 400 foot boat.” Much better to live below your means and slowly build your wealth even if it costs you some cool points. In the end you’ll be the one everyone is trying to keep up with. Financial advisor and talk show host, Dave Ramsey says it well “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else for the rest of your life.”
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” – Proverbs 13:20
For the first several years of your life it is your parents that have the greatest influence on you. Then around middle school it is your friends that become your primary influences for the remainder of your life. My friend Aaron Stern (great new blog) always says, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” He is on to something huge.
People naturally begin to imitate the people they spend the most time with. If your friends like to whistle, you will mostly likely find yourself whistling after spending time with them. If they like to read, chances are you will pick up a book the next time you’re out. All of these things add up and largely determine the future outcome of your life. So hang out with quality people, wise people…and keep yourself from fools.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is people’s fear of asking questions. Businesses go bankrupt, opportunities go down the drain, and people make stupid decisions because they don’t take the time to ask others who have been there before. Often times it is simply pride. None of us like admitting that we don’t know what we’re doing.
The most successful people in the world all have a few things in common – they understand the importance of trusted advisers and they ask questions. In my own life I have a group of men that I consistently go to with important life decisions. They each have different backgrounds so the chances are high that I will get well-rounded counsel. Their wisdom has saved me time and time again from making poor decisions. Read more about building a personal council or board of directors here.
“Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.” – Proverbs 25:6-7
While most of us are not likely to find ourselves in the presence of an actual king anytime soon, all of us have “kings” in our lives, people like our bosses, mentors and heroes. One of the most awkward moments happens when someone assumes they are “one of the guys,” when they are not. This is often a result of thinking of yourself more highly than you ought.
Situations like this can be all together avoided by being humble and letting others highlight you rather than jumping up to highlight yourself. If you truly deserve credit and honor you won’t need to point it out, it will find you.
Have any favorite Proverbs of your own? Please share! AND…
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