Editor’s Note: The Baptist Messenger recently launched a group blog as part of the Messenger InSight Network. Jeremy Freeman and Brent Prentice posted these articles on the Messenger InSight blog. Follow the blog here: https://www.baptistmessenger.com/category/insight-network/
“To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel . . .” Prov. 1:4-5 “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov. 1:7
Proverbs is full of wisdom and truth. The writer of Proverbs says things like: If you sleep when you ought to be working, you will be hungry when it is time to eat; it is better to sit on the corner of a house than to have a nagging wife: skilled people will not live in obscurity, but will stand before important people; obedient children bring joy to their mothers and fathers. This is the wisdom and knowledge of Proverbs. But if it is so obvious, why does it have to be written and read? People need to be instructed about the most obvious and rudimentary lessons of life because they don’t know or have forgotten. It could be said they are fools, whether by choice, environment or other. The author of Proverbs says many obvious but helpful things about knowledge, wisdom and understanding, and that we should acquire them at all cost.
Below is a list of 34 suggestions I have written over the years. Some I have learned through others, and some the hard way; by failure. Some are biblical. Many I work on daily. Most I have found missing in the lives of young men who mean well, but don’t know. They are for anyone willing to acquire from the little I have acquired so we can avoid being fools together.
1. Be immediately obedient. When Jesus commands you to do something, submit to His authority immediately. The way of Jesus is the best and only way to eternal things. Did the Rich Young Ruler get another chance? We don’t know, but what a tragedy if he didn’t.
2. Use measured and appropriate humor/sarcasm.
3. Look at people in the face when you talk to them.
4. Be presentable: Comb your hair, brush your teeth, wear deodorant, contextualize your dress.
5. Be thankful. See 1 Thes. 5:18
6. Learn to ask lots of thought-provoking and open-ended questions.
7. Be respectful and be courteous. Open doors for people. Say “please” and “thank you.”
8. Do the hard thing because it is usually the right thing. That doesn’t mean do things the hard way.
9. Understand your greatest strength will often be your greatest weakness.
10. Be aware of your weaknesses and manage them.
11. Focus, leverage your strengths.
12. Ask for constructive criticism from trusted and honest people who care about you.
13. Be a good listener.
14. Sleep is a discipline.
15. Be on time—no be early. People are on time for things that are important to them.
16. Say the names of people. If they are much older, start with Mr. or Mrs. People have names, and they are usually not buddy, stud or dude.
17. Learn to say, “I don’t know” and “it depends” when you don’t or it does.
18. Be willing to express your emotions and feelings—appropriately. There are few things as influential as authenticity.
19. Be thick-skinned because people are often careless and cruel.
20. Quit being a momma’s boy. Parents are so supportive, too supportive, and they will be your biggest obstacle to manhood by enabling you to be a child.
21. Entertain often the thought that you are wrong, because you will be.
22. To lead others, stay one step ahead of their expectations. Leadership rises and falls on expectations that are met or aren’t.
23. As a leader, you set the pace for what is expected. If you don’t, those who follow you will create expectations for you, and you can’t meet expectations you don’t know about.
24. Figure out how to think hard about the world, because the world is wildly complex.
25. Be angry, but be angry at the right things, not trivial things like football.
26. Don’t be a slave to debt/credit cards. Save 10 percent for a down payment on a house. “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.” Dave Ramsey
27. Read the Bible like God inspired it. Read it and live it with passion.
28. Live with intensity, because you are in a war. War demands a demeanor that something great is at stake because lives are at stake.
29. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take life serious, because it is.
30. Be a finisher. Finish what you started. Learn to persevere. Few things resemble Christ more than persevering, especially when life is deadly hard.
31. Develop a dependency on God’s Word. Learn to love it, then consume it.
32. Learn to think with a pen in your hand. Write a lot—perhaps on Facebook. It will help you learn how to think and speak, and show you the progress of God’s work in your life.
33. Anticipate trouble and problems and then confront them with prayer and wisdom. If you don’t, the trouble you ignored will find you.
34. Make much of Jesus in everything. He will give you eternal influence and an eternal legacy.
Brent Prentice is senior pastor
of Stillwater, Eagle Heights.