“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…..” Proverbs 1:4-5
“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
One of the remarkable things about Proverbs, among many, is that it is full of wisdom and truth that could be gleaned from any number of places and people – Dr. Phil comes to mind. The writer of Proverbs says things like: If you sleep when you ought to be working then you will be hungry when it is time to eat. It says that it is better to sit on the corner of a house than to have a nagging wife. It says that skilled people will not live in obscurity, but will stand before important people. It says obedient children bring joy to their mothers and fathers. It says mostly obvious stuff. This is the wisdom and knowledge of Proverbs. But if it is so obvious, then why does it have to be written and read? The obvious answer is that people need to be instructed about the most obvious and rudimentary lessons of life because they don’t know or have forgotten. They haven’t been told. They haven’t been instructed. I guess it could be said that they are fools, whether by choice or environment or other. Hence, we have the author of Proverbs saying many obvious but helpful things about knowledge and wisdom and understanding, and that we should acquire them at all cost.
Below is a list of 34 suggestions that I have written down over the years. Some I have learned through others who have instructed me. Some I have learned the hard way; meaning by way of failure. Some are thoroughly Biblical. Many of them I still work on daily. Most of them I have found largely missing in the lives of young men who mean well, but just don’t know. These things are not specific to men, but if you should read all 34 you might discover that some are specifically addressed to men because of the context in which they were delivered. Nevertheless, they are for anyone is willing to acquire from the little I have acquired so we can avoid being fools together.
- Be immediate obedient. When Jesus commands you to do something, submit to His authority immediately, because 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.
- Use measured and appropriate humor/sarcasm.
- Look at people in the face when you talk to them. This one I am constantly teaching my sons.
- Be presentable: Comb your hair, brush your teeth, wear deodorant, contextualize your dress.
- Be thankful. See 1 Thess. 5:18
- Learn to ask lots of thought-provoking and open-ended questions.
- Be respectful and be courteous. Open doors for people. Say please and thank you.
- Do the hard thing because the hard thing is usually the right thing. That doesn’t mean do things the hard way or make things hard for yourself.
- Understand that your greatest strength will often be your greatest weakness.
- Be aware of your weaknesses and manage them.
- But focus and leverage your strengths.
- Ask for constructive criticism from trusted and honest people who care about you.
- Be a good listener/ Listen by giving people your ears and eyes.
- Sleep is a discipline.
- Be on time – no be early. People are on time for things that are important to them.
- Say the names of people. If they are much older start off with Mr. or Mrs. People have names and they are usually not buddy, or stud, or dude.
- Learn to say, “I don’t know” and “it depends” when you don’t or it does depend because it will be both a lot.
- Be willing to express your emotions and feelings – appropriately. There are few things as influential as authenticity.
- Be thick-skinned because people are often careless and cruel.
- Quit being a momma’s boy. Because parents are so supportive, even too supportive, they will be your biggest obstacle to manhood by enabling you to be a child – Though they love you and want the best for you.
- Entertain often the thought that you are wrong, because you will be.
- To lead others, stay one step ahead of their expectations. Leadership rises and falls on expectations that are met or aren’t.
- As a leader you set the pace for what is expected, because if you don’t, those who follow you will create expectations for you and you can’t meet expectations you don’t know about.
- Figure out how to think hard about the world, because the world is wildly complex.
- Be angry, but be angry at the right things, not trivial things like football.
- Don’t be a slave to debt/credit cards. Save 10% for a down payment on a house. “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.” Dave Ramsey
- Read the Bible like God inspired it. Read it with passion and then live it with passion.
- Live with intensity as much as you can, because you are in a war. War demands a demeanor that something great is at stake because lives are at stake.
- Don’t take yourself too serious, but take life serious, because it is.
- Be a finisher. Finish what you started. Learn to persevere. Few things resemble Christ more than persevering, especially when life is deadly hard.
- Develop a dependency on God’s word. Learn to love it, then consume it.
- 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 it will serve you by showing you the progress of God’s work in your life.
- Anticipate trouble and problems and then confront them with prayer and wisdom, because if you don’t, the trouble you ignored will find you.
- Make much of Jesus in everything – He will give you eternal influence and an eternal legacy.