Take a minute to check out the final two practical reminders from the book of Proverbs.
7. Be Open Minded
Proverbs 18:2 (NASB) says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” Stephen Covey popularized a saying that originated with St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
If you have ever had a conversation with another human being then you know that living this principle out can be difficult. Our first inclination when someone is speaking is to do what? Begin formulating our response right? Why do we do this? We do it because we want to ensure that our opinion and our voice is heard. We want to make sure that we’re not skipped over. We want to make sure that our needs and our plans are considered.
I think we can all agree that this isn’t a healthy model for communication. Where we can get into even more trouble is when we apply this communication style to our relationship with God. As we pray, we strive to ensure that God understands what we’re dealing with. We say that we want to hear from God but we never stop talking long enough to actually hear what He has to say to us. As the Proverbs state it, “we only delight in revealing our own mind.”
"What would it look like for you and I to seek first to understand God and then to be understood? What if we practiced listening? What if our prayer times weren’t filled with our list of needs and desires but instead were filled with silence, not on God’s end but on our end?"
8. Take Action
Proverbs 20:5 (NASB) says, “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out." I love this verse because it speaks of both discernment and action. The writer compares the many plans of a man’s heart to that of deep water. In much the same way that water lies far beyond the surface of the ground in a well, there is also within many a vast wealth of knowledge and understanding.
"In the same way that the water at the bottom of the well must be creatively and with great effort be brought to the surface so to must the godly wisdom and knowledge of those around be brought to the surface."
Solomon repeats on multiple occasions through the Proverbs that godly counsel from many advisors is critical to our success. Proverbs 11:14 (NASB) says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
Proverbs 12:15 (NASB) says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”
Proverbs 15:22 (NASB) says, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.”
Proverbs 20:5 challenges us as believers to learn how to discern and identify where godly wisdom is in those around us and then takes it a step further by saying, learn how to draw that out of those around you.
We have to become more comfortable with having spiritual conversations. What I mean by that is two-fold. 1.) We have to become okay with admitting to those around us that we’re struggling and 2.) You as the listener, you as the counselor have to learn to not just hear, but engage and admit our own struggles and learn how to share the journey that God has had you on for the benefit of those who are also struggling.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, our relationships with Jesus are personal but they should not be private. Take action, learn to use the journey that God has you on for the benefit of those around you. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.