Archives For proverbs

On our way home from a long trip the other day, my son asked if he could “watch the map” on my phone and help tell us how to get home. Since I knew the way, I obliged. He feels like a big boy when he can tell me which direction I need to turn.

Or…maybe he likes telling me what to do.

Either way, he enjoys it, and on a long trip, having him occupied is a fine thing.

When I hear the GPS lady barking orders, I’ll ask Rex, “What did she say? Left? Right? How many more miles?” Most of the time, he gets it right. He repeats whatever she says. It’s kind of fun.

As we were coming to a fork in the interstate, I heard her say something, but I couldn’t quite make it out. So I asked Rex for clarification.

“Which direction did she say, buddy?”

“In 2 miles ahead on Interstate 24 go left…or right.”

“Which one was it?”

“2 miles.”

“No, which direction?”

“Interstate 24.”

“No, buddy. Left or right?”

“Yep. Left or right.”

That little detail would make the difference in us getting home. Or getting to another state. In his mind, “left or right” was adequate. But more work needed to be done. That distinction made all of the difference in the world, even though every other part of what he said was right on point.

Your idea

You’ve got inside of you an idea that will shatter expectations and hopes. That will set your organization, your church, your small group, your family, your team, or your non-profit absolutely to the next level of success.

But there’s one pesky little detail that you’re overlooking. One thing that will derail success. One tiny pebble on your track that needs to be moved before you can go forward.

  • Maybe it’s a hint of pride in your own heart.
  • Maybe it’s someone that needs to be clued in to the change that’s about to go down.
  • Maybe it’s a scheduling detail that you need to work through.
  • Maybe it’s a board member that needs to…
  • Maybe it’s a timing issue you need to revisit.
  • Maybe it’s a conversation you need to make.
  • Maybe it’s a phone call you need to follow up with.
  • Maybe it’s an agenda that needs to be tweaked.
  • Maybe you need to share ownership.
  • Maybe you need to change direction mid-stream.

What detail do you need to shore up?

The success or failure of your idea may very well depend on your combing over things one more time.

Details matter.

Measure twice. Cut once.

If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame. – Proverbs 18:13

 

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I was in a small group my junior and senior years of high school that was absolutely monumental in my spiritual journey. That group helped me more than years and years of sermons I heard. More than years and years of sitting under a Sunday school teacher. More than years and years of individual study.Even though I didn’t talk much.

You know why I didn’t talk much during group time?

I was afraid.

I was afraid that I’d say something and be wrong.

Afraid I’d misquote a Scripture.

Afraid I’d say something and be disproven.

Afraid I’d say something dumb.

Screen Shot 2012-11-15 at 8.34.38 AM

image credit: Matt Gruber, Creation Swap, edits mine

There were a handful of times when I’d share something, only for someone to immediately respond with, “Well, why would you say this if ______ is true? What about the verse that says, “______.”

I’m sure that the guys saying these things weren’t trying to strike fear in me. Surely they weren’t intentionally trying to undercut every little step of faith I took to kick my fear in the teeth. They couldn’t be backhanding slamming my little serve across the net, like the guy that toys with you in ping pong, only to make you look silly with a flick of his wrist.

But every time I put myself out there, and they gave a quick retort, I retreated into my shell.

It’s a fear of man issue, I know. I’ve worked through it. I’ve dealt with my issues. I’m still dealing with them. I’m more and more comfortable being harshly corrected and chastised in a small group. My skin has toughened, and I’m more and more confident in who God has created me to be, rooting my identity in Christ. But here’s a word of wisdom to every small group leader:

Be careful how you respond to the quiet guy.

It’s easy to break people. Inadvertently, you squelch courage, winning the battle you didn’t even know existed. Winning the battle for the wrong team.

Instead of jumping all over the guy that says something you don’t agree with, let me offer a few responses you could give:

Helpful discussion engagers from a small group leader:

1. Hmm…that’s interesting. Can you explain that a little more?

2. Hmm…that’s interesting. Anybody else have a different take?

3. Thanks a ton for sharing that. We so value your perspective.

4. Good thought. Sounds like you’re pretty passionate about that. Where did you first hear that?

5. Thanks for that. I love the diversity of thought here.

6. Thanks for sharing. Let’s bounce that thought around the group.

7. But the Bible says, “_____,” so you’re wrong… (trust me, even if the person stands in stark contrast with the Bible, this is never, ever the best response right out of the gate)

8. I’ve not heard that angle before. Help me understand where you’re coming from.

9. So, let me try to repeat what you said so we can all be sure to understand your point…

There is a time for correction. A time for pointing out the Truth, and letting people choose to fall into the arms of Truth or run from them. There is a time for brutally honest feedback. But that time isn’t from you, the group leader, the “expert,” right after that person shares. Please don’t stomp out courage. Don’t cut off safety. Don’t snuff out curiosity.

And don’t kick the quiet guy.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. – Proverbs 18:21

 

 

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Wisdom for leaders young and old

Ben Reed —  December 14, 2011 — 11 Comments

Stuck Between Stages

I find myself in a strange stage of life at this moment. In many ways, I can appeal to two very different groups: older leaders and younger leaders.

To younger leaders, I’m older. I’ve been in vocational ministry for nearly 6 years, have experience writing, teaching, leading teams, and consulting. I’ve been married for more than 7 years and have a 3 year old son. To “young” leaders, I’m old…ahem…experienced.

To older leaders, I’m still young. I’m not yet 30, still have a young child, have not run as many ministry laps as others, and still have a lot to learn. The “wet” behind my ears isn’t yet fully dried.

I find myself stuck between new leaders and old leaders. Which leaves me categorically nowhere. Thanks a lot, late-20s.

Living the Tension

For many of the decisions in my life right now, I live in this tension. I’ve been around long enough to stand on my own feet…but l have also been around long enough to know I don’t know everything. There are still days I feel in over my head. There are still days where I doubt myself. There are still days when I desperately need the sage advice that experience brings.

But I’ve been around long enough that people are looking at me for that same kind of advice. Which frightens me…and should frighten many others, too.

Many days, I wonder whether the next step forward is a good one…or is just a creepy man with a white wigbeard. Should I tell him what I want…or look at him, like my son did, with much trepidation?

photo credit: me

 

Allow me, out of this tension, to speak to you.

To older leaders:

We need you. Urge us to proceed with caution or to run full throttle. Prod us to start something new. Encourage us to quit doing what we’re doing. Tell us what you would do if you were our age. We crave your years of experience. We long to learn from your failures so we don’t replicate them. Help us to stand on your shoulders and see further than our own vantage point offers.

To younger leaders:

Seek wisdom. It’s out there for you. In books, podcasts, and blog posts. It’s available in other men and women, screaming to shed light on the dark and confusing areas of your life. Don’t try to navigate the fog on your own. Life’s too short, and you haven’t lived enough of it.

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech. (Proverbs 1:20-21)

Whatever stage in life you find yourself, you have a role. Lead upwards and downwards, sideways and backwards. The Kingdom needs you.

 

 

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Anticipating before listening

Ben Reed —  September 21, 2011 — 8 Comments

iStock photo user: Fabervisum

Good leaders listen well. They don’t merely anticipate.

I was at the bank yesterday, and as I left I said to the teller, “Bye, see you later!” To which she replied, “I hope you have a good day, too!”

She anticipated because she had heard the same thing from every customer that day. She thought she heard, “Have a good day!” She should have listened more carefully.

Not a big deal, because the response that my bank teller makes to me on the way out doesn’t make or break my day, but it does point out an important principle.

Listen before you answer.

Listen before you answer…

  • When you’re talking with your spouse and you feel like you already know what they’re going to say
  • When you’re in a hurry and you wish the person would just hurry up
  • When you’re the small group leader and you’re “expected to have the right answer”
  • When someone is going to ask your advice
  • When someone is not going to ask your advice, they’re just sharing their story
  • When you’re talking with an “extra grace required” person
  • When you’ll be expected to give a response and you’re not sure what you’re going to say.

The temptation is to move ahead and prepare what your response will be. That way, you’ll appear smart and on top of things.

But you’re better off listening fully before processing your answer.

Those who are sharing their heart with you will feel honored and respected knowing you truly care about them.

And when they throw you a curve ball, like I did my bank teller, you’ll be ready.

He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame. – Proverbs 18:13

Question:

Have you ever tried to anticipate what someone was going to say, and gotten it wrong?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone when they appeared absent?

*photo credit, iStock Photo user: Fabervisum

 

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If you’d like to catch up on this series of 11-word posts, click HERE.

Say less, listen more

Saying more is much easier than saying less.  Start by listening.

 

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Quit hiding

Ben Reed —  November 15, 2010 — 5 Comments

My son has figured out how to manipulate.  Funny…I don’t remember teaching him that.

And funny how that sticks, and so many other things that I teach him don’t stick.

His recent move is learning how to hide.  He’ll get something that he knows he’s not supposed to have (for instance, his pacifier, which is only a nap-time thing).  Just the other day, he was sneaking through the kitchen, slowly and quietly behind the big chair in our living room.  I could see his feet.  And his head as he was “sneaking” just a little too far.  I said, “Rex?  What are you doing?”  …No response…  ”Rex, do you have your pacifier?”  Still no response.  He froze.

So I got up to “find” him.  When I saw what I knew he had, I asked him to go and put it away.  So he did.  Kind of.

He walked around the corner of the kitchen towards his room, and stopped.  I suppose he didn’t realize that I can hear his feet when he walks on the floor.  And I knew that he had stopped well short of his room.  Turns out I had to walk him by the hand into his room to be certain that he did what I asked him to do.

But it’s not just my son that’s good at hiding.  Even we, adults, are good at it, aren’t we?  In fact, our forefather, Adam, invented the game.  After he and Eve had eaten the fruit that God had told them not to eat, they hid.  First with leaves (Genesis 3:7).  Then among the trees.

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  And he [Adam] said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’”

As God questioned them about what they’d done, both Adam and Eve proceeded to shift the blame away from themselves, trying to further manipulate and deceive the all-knowing, all-seeing, God.

Rex, my son, had nothing to fear.  Nothing as far as my relationship with him was concerned.  There were consequences he had to face because he had disobeyed me.  But his relationship with me was unchanged.  He’s safe with me.

And we’re safe with God.  We can be open and honest, and trust that He’ll never leave or forsake us.

But it’s often not God that we’re concerned with, is it?  It’s other people.  We’re afraid that we’ll be rejected, laughed at, ridiculed, and scorned.  Afraid that we’ll lose our influence and our status.  Afraid of being known.  Hiding our true selves from others is rooted in a fear of man.  Which is an incredibly dangerous place to stand.

Be open and honest with God.  He knows your heart anyway.

Then work on being open and honest with your friends.  God’s placed them in your life on purpose.  They’re meant to help you carry the burdens and the secrets you’re struggling to carry on your own.

Hiding is a game that we need to quit playing.

Who can you be open and honest with today about the burdens you’re carrying?

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

 

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Save Draft, Click Here

Ben Reed —  November 16, 2009 — Leave a comment

Save Draft Button

I love the “Save Draft” button that I have access to for my blog. Often, in fact, for 99% of my blogs I’ll write a first draft, then save it. I’ll come back to it later on that day, or the next. Maybe even a week later.

Then I’ll save it again.

It helps me to look over it again and catch some mistakes. Refine my thought. Make sure I said what I meant to say.  Make sure what I said is constructive, and not destructive.

I wonder how it would work if we had the opportunity to click the “save draft” button in “real life.” Instead of just spouting off whatever came into our head, what if we stopped and waited?  Swallowed our pride?  Prayed?  Asked God to season our words with salt (Colossians 4:6)?

Something tells me that it might work pretty well.

After all, “Do you see a man who speaks in haste?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

 

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