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Readers and leaders, one cup at a time

By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

One of the reasons the wisdom scripture in the Bible draws me is the way it helps its readers to be leaders.

This is what I am finding this morning as I am reading in the book of Proverbs, in the Bible, Chapter 8, coffee cup in hand.

Wisdom, a persona Solomon created, is talking here:

“Through me kings have their power, and rulers give right decisions. Through me chiefs have authority, and the noble ones are judging in righteousness.” Proverbs 8:15

As a breadwinner, husband to a capable woman, and a dad to growing children, there have been many chances to decide something and much pressure to get it right. Any help in this area is a good thing, so I like to tap into this idea of being wise on a daily basis. It might shock you to know that I, on occasion have to face a skeptic or two.

Let me show you how this wisdom-thing works.

King Solomon, the wise king of Israel, is famous for the way he handled two prostitutes who each claimed the same living child. This is found in the Bible, 1 Kings 3:16-28, and it occurred just after he had taken the throne. Solomon could have had the women killed, but instead offered to have the child cut in two so that each could have half. One woman said okay and the other screamed, “Don’t hurt the child,” because she was the real mother. She gets the baby. Nothing further is done. End of story. Justice has won. Very smart move on his part.

Solomon has now shown his subjects for how he intends to rule, not with brutal force, but with wisdom.

Those who have something to hide are scared. The rest look at the new king and say, “This could work.”

Solomon inspires them. This allows him to sidestep the standard slaughter of all rivals to the throne, something that was common in that day for a new ruler. Here is this mama’s boy who has never seen a battle, who has received a kingdom newly at peace, but the nation doesn’t need a warrior-king now. It needs a good person to turn that peace into prosperity.

They think, “He just might be the right man for the job.”

I need to be the right man for my job, too. I need to inspire and not just demand that people listen to me and I like Solomon’s idea of being fair. It’s very moving.

Here is one verse of his that follows those lines that I have found helpful at work.

11:16 “A gracious woman retaineth honor, and strong men retain riches (KJV).”

Like he did with the two prostitutes, Solomon’s Proverbs often compare one subject with the other to teach fair judgment.

Here, a single woman hangs on to honor, while strong men (plural) keep their money. One does something more noble with less, while the others do something more common with more.

Which one is often missed but deserves high praise?

The first.

The other rates as simply OK.

This helped explain something I saw at work where management wanted staff to innovate and one supervisor’s only answer to his problems was thatwe needed to hire more staff. This verse helped me to see this kind of thinking for the shallow thing it was.

In Solomon’s book, he offers to teach us to think wisely, like he did. This would require some time and work, but it would come. Others would listen to us if we did.

This story was posted on August 2, 2013.