Home > Leadership, Theology > Wisdom from the Proverbs

Wisdom from the Proverbs

I love the book of Proverbs.  It’s so practical and straightforward.  You have to be pretty dense to miss what it’s saying.  The entire book is filled with short one-liners that summarize big truths in memorable ways.  At first glance this book appears to be about wisdom, but a deeper look reveals that it’s actually about being teachable.  Wisdom, after all, is attained through learning.

When I was a teenager I thought I knew it all without having to learn it all.  In my mind I was wise beyond my years.  I could give the best advice, always had the “right” answer and believed I had the solution to every problem.  As far as I was concerned, everyone else was beneath me.  I thought I was wise, but was really just ignorant and arrogant, what the Proverbs call a “fool.”

Come to find out, I didn’t know everything.  In fact, I didn’t really know much about anything. My foolish pride made me unteachable, which means I ignored the wisdom offered to me and had to learn a lot the hard way. It was painful.  I could have saved myself a lot of headache and heartbreak if I would have just listened to what others had to say.

Image via paradoxbiblechurch.org

Image via paradoxbiblechurch.org

Thankfully, the proverbs are chalked full of wisdom.  They offer at least four ways that we can learn without having to do so the hard way.

1. Observation. The first step to learning is to simply pay attention.  Take a deeper look at the way things are.  Consider cause and effect, situational outcomes and the like. You’d be surprised at how much you can pick up by watching the world around you. (Proverbs 6:6-8)

2. Instruction. When you boil it down, discipleship is ultimately about one person mentoring or instructing another.  Through instruction a mentor teaches us how to believe in and follow Jesus.  This same principal works well in every area of life. Find someone who knows what they’re talking about and ask them to teach you(Proverbs 2:1; 3:1-2; 4:1-2; 6:20)

3. Experience. Experience really is the best teacher, but the tuition is high.  Mentoring gets you through the experience process more efficiently and effectively, but at the end of the day experience is indispensable. Want to know what it takes to follow Jesus, to fix the sink or to raise children? Then put your Nike’s on and “Just Do It.” Observation and instruction don’t do much good if you’re unwilling to put what you’ve learned to good use. (Proverbs 20:30)

4. Analysis. One of the most helpful but often overlooked aspects to learning is evaluating your experiences to see how you did, where you grew, what you learned and where you need to grow and improve for next time.  Instruction and experience don’t mean much if we don’t take the time to thoughtfully examine how things actually went. (Proverbs 14:8)

At the end of the day, Wisdom is in a Person, Jesus Christ.  As the Proverbs state, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) We can grow in general wisdom by applying these four principles, but we can only grow in godly wisdom by knowing and learning from Jesus Christ.

  1. August 25, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Ah, Proverbs. I have to confess that I find this THE most difficult book of the Bible to really “get”. I’m naturally an analytical/interpretive type, and in most of the book, this means my brain is set up to look for the wrong things. There are no (or very few) deeper meanings to tease out; Proverbs is almost all application. So my mind gets bored and wanders off looking for something to do.
    Any pointers?

    • August 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      I’m the same way! I too like to dig deep and suck the marrow out of every verse. My suggestion for proverbs is read until one proverb stands out or speaks into an area of your life that is inconsistent with what is being taught, then stop and develop a plan to train yourself in that area. Once you’ve got a brief and specific plan for actually putting that piece of wisdom to practice, put on your Nike’s and get on with it!

  2. August 26, 2014 at 5:14 AM

    Proverbs is all about “learn and live” rather than “live and learn”

  3. stevenarete
    August 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    All great points! I really like the mention of being teachable.

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