Proverbs 25 – August 25

CC Image courtesy of jdan57 on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of jdan57 on Flickr.

Proverbs 25
Author: Bobby Clark

“Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence
and do not claim a place among great men;
It is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here.’,
than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.” (Proverbs 25.6-7)

Jesus expands this proverb in Luke 14:7 – 11 after observing the way guests at a Wedding Feast were “jockeying” for a “front row” seat; he used a parable to illustrate that the one “who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Many times in my own career as a leader in a sales organization I have witnessed those who want to be “out front” and “noticed” by the “higher ups” in the organization!! Painful to watch!

It is the privilege of leadership (at any age) to value people over position and your position in the hierarchy is not a reason to look down on others!

As a young teen with two younger brothers and one older brother, the 5th through 7th grade boys in our housing area (a US Air Force Base Housing Area near Frankfurt, Germany) would gather regularly on the grass between the giant sandbox and the clotheslines for a not so friendly game of tackle football. It inevitably started with a football being tossed around and then “choosing up sides” for a game. I noticed early that those with less experience and skills were almost always chosen last and given the unglamorous task of blocking (basically being a nuisance and fodder) for the more skilled players to run the ball, pass the ball, catch the ball and kick the ball – rarely were they even given a chance to touch the football, much less be a “real” player.

Many times my younger brother Billy and I were chosen by the group to be captains and begin the task of “choosing teams” by alternating “picks” from the remaining boys. Bill would always choose his best friend and I would choose my youngest brother Bart. From there Bill would choose the “best” of the remaining players while I would choose the “lesser skilled” smaller, slower, “left out” ones. You can imagine the results; we were defeated often and often defeated badly, with Bart carrying most of the load! (Guess that could help explain why he became a H.S. All Star and went on to play small college football as a running back!) But, when we did win, the look of pride, pure joy and sense of accomplishment on those younger faces was “priceless”. Even in defeat these banged up, bruised and bloody little warriors who got to run the ball, pass the ball and kick the ball and really, for many, the first time to actually experience the game as “real players”; were smiling and laughing and reminiscing about their “accomplishments” on the makeshift gridiron. (Still brings tears to the corner of my eyes when I remember those little faces.)

One late afternoon just before dark while we were walking off the “field” to go eat supper, my brother Bart threw the ball at me and stated, “I hate playing on your team! Why do you always choose the worst players first and Bill gets all the good guys! I hate losing all the time!” He was mad!! I tried to explain how it felt to always be chosen last and never to be considered a “real” player because I had experienced first-hand that kind of treatment. He was still too mad to even listen.

This proverb was meant for all us to remember the underdogs and be willing to humble ourselves in the presence of the One True King and promote the welfare of others above ourselves. The King sees you and your actions with the “least of these” and will one day call you from the back to come and be seated in a place of honor! Until then, remain humble!

Proverbs 23 – June 23

Proverbs 23
Author: Bobby Clark

Proverbs Chapters 23 and 24 are a continuation of the collection of miscellaneous “wisdom” sayings with the distinction that most of the proverbs in these two chapters have a lot to say about what not to do – about showing restraint in your daily activities and life pursuits.

In 23:4-5 the writer is admonishing his child to show restraint in the accumulation of wealth since it can very easily “sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” Here today and gone tomorrow.

I recall a time many years ago when we were building a lot of momentum in our business, and I suddenly found myself in possession of a very, very large (at least in the mind and eyes of a kid who grew up in the foothills of the Arkansas Ozarks) bonus check paid out early in the year from the previous year’s results! The check had my name on it!! I quickly began thinking to myself, “Wow!” Followed by a few moments of stunned cranial silence and then again, “Wow! Yesss!! Man I have finally hit the Big Time!! Why, with this kind of money all in one lump sum, I can finally get that Razorback Red Metallic Fleck Ranger Bass Boat from Flippin, AR!” Now my mind is really racing and I quickly added a Ford F150 4×4 with an identical paint scheme – Wow, what a combo!!

In the midst of spending all that money, my wife comes home and asks, “Baby, did you get that bonus check yet?” To which I reluctantly replied, “Uh Huh.” She then said, “I need you to sign the back of the check and give it to me.” My dream was beginning to fade by the second as suddenly a sense of foreboding began to darken the vibrant picture I had held so vividly only moments before. “Why?” I hesitantly inquired. She responded, “Our CPA, (who just happens to be her baby sister) let me know that we made more than we anticipated and we owe much more in taxes to Uncle Sam than we paid in quarterlies.”   “Uh, how much more?” I ventured, thinking surely I can at least salvage the boat, I mean who cares if I have to pull it to the Marina in a bright red Dodge Neon. She then responded with a figure a little larger than the amount of the check!!

Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning, (or rather more appropriately the Holy Spirit was reminding me of a proverb I had underlined many years ago because I thought the imagery was hilarious) “Cast but a glance at riches for they will fly off like an eagle!” which, is my paraphrase of Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

With a weary sigh, I signed the check and handed it over. Every bit of that check and a few thousand more dollars, just like that, flew off to Uncle Sam! And don’t think for a moment the irony of the American symbol of the Eagle was lost on me!!

Well, I still do not have a Ranger Bass Boat (of any color) from Flippin, AR … but I do have a big black Ford pick up to pull my wife’s 23 foot Deck Boat from Jacksonville, TX!! Ha, amazing how God knows in advance that a Deck Boat is much, much more practical for hauling a bunch of grandkids around the lake! (Besides, if your wife is not with you …. you can even fish out of it!!)