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Leadership

Proverbs Day Thirty-One | Listen to the Baboon

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It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed. Proverbs 31v4-5 (NLT)

Aside from having to watch The Lion King film too many times when my kids were young, I actually rather enjoyed it.

One of the most moving scenes is where Rafiki, the wise Baboon, walks Simba, the foolish Lion cub, to a watering hole and encourages him to study the reflection in the water.

Rafiki says the reflection shows Simba’s father (the late King) but all Simba sees is himself. Rafiki makes Simba look harder and then Simba sees the image of his father. Rafiki says You see? He lives in you”. Then Simba hears his father’s voice saying “Simba, you have forgotten me… You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are more than what you have become”.

Being wise, focused and responsible like a king is not meant to be an optional extra. It is who we are meant to be. We are our Father’s children and must seek to remember that and respond to that. We are not meant to surrender our responsibility and duties for the “fleeting pleasures” or “tough times” in Egypt.

As I conclude my 31 day journey into Proverbs I am reminded to start again. Every day, every month and every year… because only by wisdom can I do what I have been born to do, and foolishness will harm me and hurt others. None more so than the Father who made me.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Proverbs 31v4-5 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-Nine | Love criticism!

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Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. Proverbs 29v1 (NLT)

I love these kind of Proverbs. The reason is simple, because criticism is painful and hard to take. I guess it is for most people.

Last night my daughter was discussing personality types and she concluded that I don’t take criticism personally. I am not sure that is true! Whilst I take a degree of comfort that I may have a degree of resilience to criticism which helps me, but the other side of that coin is that it can make me stubborn and unyielding. Over the long haul that is dangerous territory. Key to criticism acceptance is identifying a core of people who have free reign to criticise you. You must know, before the criticism begins, these people are for you, love you and want you to win. Don’t let the criticism change your perception of that. I have seen too many people confidently declare a trust in people, only to distrust them when the criticism comes.

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Proverbs 29v1 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-Eight | Bullies who should know better

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A poor person who oppresses the poor is like a pounding rain that destroys the crops. Proverbs 28v3 (NLT)

I read this Proverb and think it says that anyone who oppresses anyone, going through a similar experience as them, should know better. Rain should be good for the crops. It should not destroy.

In the past year I have seen acts of kindness and acts of selfishness or oppression of others. Some people should know better and some should definitely know better – especially those in the same boat.

There is no excuse for oppressing the poor, and less so if you are poor yourself. This principle applies to any number of circumstances (see the parable in Matthew 18).

We should stand up to bullies and lay firm boundaries in their lives regardless of their background. Background may explain bullying, but it should not excuse it.

A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food. Proverbs 28v3 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-Six | Dog vomit!

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As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Proverbs 26v11 (NLT)

This has always been one of my favourite and most helpful Proverbs – which might seem strange as I am not a fan of dogs! It screams out to me learn from your mistakes.

Like a dog we will vomit out our mistakes, don’t be surprised when that happens. The key is to reflect and review why the mistake happened. Be rigorous about it, don’t settle for the first answer your ego provides to protect you!

Once whilst being away in a city where I could barely speak the language (barely is me being kind to myself), I had a pathetic grasp of their culture and felt out of my depth in tackling the everyday things.

This meant several “mistakes” which cost me money. Some I could immediately learn from and so revise my plan for the following day. Others lessons would have to wait for the next time I leave my country.

On reflection, the mistakes and consequences (on my wallet) hurt and were annoying, but now I come to see that these things are inevitable and caused by a willingness to step into new things. Making a mistake does not make me a fool, but repeating one does.

Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. Proverbs 26v11 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-Four | Core strength training

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If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Proverbs 24v10 (NLT)

Too many may read this and focus primarily on the word fail. Interestingly the ESV translation uses the phrase faint.

I think that faint captures the heart of the wisdom much better. After all, as the adage goes “real failure, may be failure to try”.

Resilience is a really important trait especially in those pressure circumstances we might find ourselves in. It could be any number of situations! Resilience stops us fainting. We are able to resist it.

This proverb stood out immediately to me because I feel I am learning about calmness in the face of pressure – when the odds are stacked against me.

It is a slow journey of learning and asking God to change me. It matters most when I disagree with someone, they rub me up the wrong way or don’t do what I expected or wanted. I have spent so much time in Psalm 23 this year because it is the antidote to weak strength in the face of strong pressure. The key to strength is knowing that God is with me. His rod and his staff they comfort me etc.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23v1-6 (ESV)

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24v10 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-One | Not missing it!

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The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Proverbs 21v3

I am deeply provoked and sobered that I could miss the really important things in following Jesus. In addition I could spend too long and too much effort on the things that matter a whole lot less.

Jesus really was unflattering about those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. What these folk taught or said might be true, but it needed to be demonstrated not just declared. Failing to do this may make us guilty of “crushing people with unbearable religious demands and never lifting a finger to ease the burden” (Matthew 23v4).

I see more than ever that a relentless pursuit against performance and pretence will be good for me and for others I share life with. God is not fooled. He knows what we do for show and what we do for Him. He knows whether we operate in the Kingdom or out of it. I want to help people discover, follow and serve the Jesus of Matthew 23. He said it as it was, saw it as it is and changes us despite ourselves.

Therefore, I am learning in a new way the high value Jesus places on justice, mercy and faith. These are matters of the heart (Matthew 23v23). That is wisdom!

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21v3

Why scatter?

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I was so encouraged this week to hear how one of the Connection groups met to pray for North Korea, particularly our brothers and sisters living there.

Using brilliant creativity they were able to simulate something of what it might be like for disciples of Jesus living under the North Korean communist regime – a country where the church is forced to scatter.

The gift of creativity provides many benefits. If one of these is that it stirs us to prayer and good works, then I say more!

For a while now I have wanted to take the opportunity to outline some reasons why we do not always meet together as a church on a Sunday. We call these occasions The Hill Scattered.

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