Proverbs 25

Today called for lots of time behind the snow-thrower and snow-shovel.  I think my snow-thrower’s mad at me; I worked it hard and put it away when it couldn’t handle the work anymore.   (poor thing).   So cleaning up after last night’s blizzard gave me good time to think, and today I settled on something I’d not seen before.

Do not go out hastily to argue your case; Otherwise, what will you do in the end when your neighbor puts you to shame?  (v8)

I remembered today a friend of mine who served with me for several years before they moved away.  We would get together and talk about worship and methods, and growth, and discipling. I usually came away from our conversations unfulfilled and sometimes frustrated while he drove home happy and satisfied as could be.  We took the time to talk about it one day —a sign that ours was a genuine friendship if you ask me— and I learned the difference.  He put everything on the table that came to mind, “even the stuff I think is probably wrong”  he said while I set only my best thoughts and ideas on the discussion table.

You can imagine what a revelation it was to discover we were looking at the same conversation through completely different lenses time after time.   He expected me to go after some -even most- of his ideas, take them apart, prove him wrong,  and he’d argue his point as part of making that happen, but when he’d do that to mine, I took it personally.  “Hey, Pal, that’s my best idea on the matter,  be careful now!”    It was a huge disconnect!  I wasn’t eager to argue my case, holding back all but the top few ideas, he was eager to put it all on the table.

Most would say this verse has to do with a person’s eagerness to go to court, and they’re right , but being one who does all he can to stay out of court, I thought I’d point to another application of this verse today.

Selah—

—PLR—

For more thoughts on Proverbs, click the Proverbs  tag to the right (for my stuff) or above (for wordpress-wide) entries.


4 Replies to “Proverbs 25”

  1. Ed

    Good Morning. I have recently started reading your thoughts on Proverbs. I appreciate your encouraging thoughts. Would you be able to elaborate your thoughts on Proverbs 25:8, especially what you learned in your discussion with your friend. I find myself frustrated a lot in conversations. I do take things personally because I put my best ideas on the table as you have said. This frustration weeds its way into all my relationships, personal and business and I have taken notice of that fact. It seems to be a stumbling block for me…

  2. Phil

    Good Morning, Ed, thanks for the kind words!

    Sure! It’s easy for me to go into too much detail so it’s nice to be asked to elaborate once in awhile 😀

    The main application of the verse is “Don’t be a hurry to say ‘See you in court, Buddy!'” Beyond that, though, I learned in the example I described here that my friend was eager to “put it all out there” and delve into congenial “arguments” (for lack of a better word). He expected to sort through and cull away the less valuable thoughts as we talked, while I was bringing only my best to the table. He learned as he watched what happened to his ideas as we argued his case, even while I took some apart right there in front of him. Some were pretty easy; the wheels fell right off. All that energy to get a “dumb idea” off the table while I spent considerable time digging and learning in anticipation of our discussions? C’mon. After a while I just couldn’t go there any longer, and that’s when we discovered how differently we were approaching our “peer-discipleship” sessions.

    Here’s what I learned. When I’m in discussion settings, personal growth & Bible study, work, volunteering, etc., it helps me to know the discussion climate and how ideas are treated. Knowing that, I can adjust my expectations.

    I still like to think I bring my best to the table, but I’m more willing than I used to be to say “I’m still working on this, but what do you think?” or “Help me distill this concept some more, can you?” There’s value in that, and I found I needed to be more willing to let that happen. For one, it’s more open, which is always good for work relationships and friendships, and two, it takes some pressure off, being able to have an opinion or perspective critiqued while it’s still forming – if I trust the people doing the critiquing.

    I don’t know if this is you or not, but perfectionistic thinkers will find this more difficult than others, and I KNOW the perfectionist’s frustration. A new and more pleasant world opened up for me when I exchanged my perfectionistic mindset for one that pursues excellence and enjoys progress in that direction.

    Does this help? What other questions does it bring to mind?

    Phil—

  3. Ed

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks a lot. That was a great elaboration and your insight helped an awful lot.

    When it comes to planning, brainstorming and exchanging ideas, my focus is on creating the right plan or coming up with the correct idea.

    When it comes time to exchange ideas or present a plan to another person and questions come up, I get defensive. I say to myself, “How can this person question my plan when it is the best possible plan I could come up with?”

    I am seeing and it has been pointed out to me that I am not being open and some have even thought that I am not being genuine. This of course is the quality that I value most in other people, so it was a real eye opener to hear it expressed towards me.

    Now that I have read your thoughts on this proverb I can say that I need to adjust my expectations when I have conversations with people. Instead of focusing on being right all the time, I need to focus on getting to what is best. I think this realization is going to have a huge impact on how I work and relate with other people. I think it will break down my defensiveness, which is usually the first reaction when others try to give input or suggestions to me. Also, I think it will help me to appear more open and genuine to others, which will make me more approachable.

    Sorry for being so “me” focused here. It is great when the Lord speaks to you through his word and even better when He provides someone to help in the understanding of it. Thank you for the conversation. I started reading the Proverbs because I lacked wisdom in relating to people and now I am gaining such understading in such a short period of time. I wonder why it took me so long to open up this book and read from it daily??

    Best regards,

    Ed.

  4. Phil

    Thanks for SUCH encouraging words, Ed! I’m glad I could help. There’s a verse in tomorrow’s chapter that comes to mind:

    As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (27.17) It’s easy to read that and forget about the elbow grease, heat, metal filings and metal dust that’s also part of the process.

    I think you’re going to do great in “getting to what is best” (you said that well!) I’ve found that it helps me to intentionally put more ideas on the table than can be used. Good ideas, just more than can be applied. That way I KNOW at least one of my suggestions is going to be pushed aside on the way to the best answer. Makes it easier somehow when I help it happen.

    When I feel defensiveness coming on (and I used to be a pro – ask my family!) I’ve found a short sentence that helps buy me a few minutes to recover. “Tell me more.” While the person across the table or at the other end of the room explains, I have a minute or two to remind myself not to bristle. If it works for you, help yourself!

    Oh, and start listening for the comment that’s sure to come, maybe from a friend first, maybe from a boss – “Nice job in there today, Ed!” It’ll happen as you put these to use – count on it.

    Phil—

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