As we launch in to our first "60-Seconds Series" this month on Wisdom, I've been poring over the Proverbs to dig a little deeper. Many years ago, as a pre-teen, my mother instructed me to begin reading a chapter in Proverbs every day of the month. "You're never too young to cultivate wisdom in your walk with the Lord", she'd said. I recently did the same with our 11-year-old daughter, Bonnie, and would stop by her room from time to time throughout the month.
"How's it going? What do you think about Proverbs?"
"Wellll, it's going okay, but I don't get some of what he's saying. Why is 'being proud' so awful? I thought it was a good thing to be proud!"
While there are a few quirky premises throughout the wise sayings of Solomon and his colleagues that are dated by their context, the overall teaching is priceless. I equate it much like "Chicken Soup for the Soul" on steroids. Basic, common sense training that gives us grounded foundation for a lifestyle pleasing to God and a freedom from overarching mistake-making.
Its purpose is lined out in the Prologue (verses 2-7) of chapter one (I love a good organized piece of writing!).
2 To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding,
3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
4 To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—
5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The primary requirement is two-fold: 1/ fear the Lord and 2/be open to teaching.
If we fear the Lord, we won't be open to the wrong teaching but will pursue teaching from His Word and see through spirit eyes. We will be able to discern what is Truth and what just sounds like Truth. We will be able to weigh every resource by The Source.
Psalm 51 always warms my spirit each time as I read David's plea with God after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. In verse 6 he prayed, "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom." He goes on to ask the Lord to wash away the sin he had allowed to taint his heart and alter his choices. I can see David, perhaps lying face down in shame and repentance as he began to feel the weight of the situation only getting heavier. His surrender to the Lord's punishment made him all the more aware of how grave his life had become. David knew better. Yet he had allowed himself to get away from the sound teachings that had guided him for years and thus entered sin in a way he never dreamed would be a part of his life.
David, the man after God's own heart.
The greatest mistake we can make as women in ministry is to discount our need for more wisdom. I've been in this thing all my life and I confess there have been sections of time where I've allowed myself to go on autopilot. Those times looked like me resting comfortably behind the spiritual leadership of my husband to the point that I wasn't pressing forward in my own spiritual growth and development. I knew enough of the Christian jargon to maintain and had a great foundation beneath me. But I wasn't digging any deeper or picking up speed to be more personally effective.
No one is immune to spiritual laziness. Especially ministry wives. Hey, quite often we aren't even checking in mentally to engage in the church service or Bible study. It's business. It's a part of the deal. The preacher is my husband. I'm not happy with that preacher today. He fussed at me this morning. He over-expects of me. I dealt with that worship leader this week. She talked to another person in our church about us. I don't need to study. I know this stuff. Pray? I went to the mandatory staff prayer meeting this week. Check. Check. Check.
But when we do get off the rat wheel of ministry and engage in a relationship with the Father who called us to this in the first place?
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. (Ps 51:10-17)
Our prayer must be this month--and every day, "Lord teach me your ways and then I will teach others." May we know Him in such a way that we are truly able to say from a current, in-the-now experience, "Follow me, I know the way."
Bridgette Tomlin is a wife, mother of two girls, and 'minister of the et cetera' alongside her husband, Chresten from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She loves a great cup of steaming hot tea, the blessing of quiet spaces where she can think now and again, and the art of a handwritten note. While she's a vocalist, speaker, writer, and admin, Bridgette's heart is fully engaged in connecting every woman to their God-given call and gifts with authentic candor. You can follow her blog from their ministry site.