The pages of Proverbs are not supposed to be merely pondered on or philosophised about, but its wisdom is to be personified and embodied in everyday life. According to Proverbs, the true measure of wisdom is not what you know, but what you live. So as a Life group let's apply the word of God in practical ways so that we learn to “Walk in Wisdom.”Proverbs 1:1-7 (NLT) The Purpose of Proverbs
1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
knowledge and discernment to the young.
5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
Let those with understanding receive guidance
6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.Parental Wisdom
Much of Proverbs is written as wisdom literature being passed on from generation to generation, as parents onto their children or fathers onto their sons. So you’ll notice throughout Proverbs you’ll find this pattern of parental instruction, repeating “my son, keep your fathers command and do not forsake your mothers teaching.” (Proverbs 6:20)
The very beginning of chapter 1 it introduces the author very intentionally, it says, these are the proverbs of Solomon, who is both David’s Son, and the King of Israel.
The author himself right up front, shows us a profound insight, recognising that although he holds advisory positions of influence as a King and a Father, he states “For I too was a son to my father”
(Proverbs 4:3) acknowledging that before any other title he holds, he is first and foremost a son.
We all like the idea of inheriting all of the benefits of wisdom, (Proverbs 2) but in reality, most of us resist and reject its mode of delivery, which comes through “parental discipline, correction and instruction.”Discussion Questions
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT) “My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”
- How do you currently perceive discipline, correction, and instruction? What has shaped that perspective?
- What are the ways you notice society avoiding instruction, correction, and discipline?
- What has your experience been like as a son or a daughter of your earthly parents or father?
- How has that relationship positively or negatively affected your relationship with your heavenly Father?
Read Hebrews 12:5-13 for an extended passage on God’s discipline
Reasons why should we welcome God’s discipline:
- We can trust God’s character as a good and perfect Father
- His discipline is motivated by love and is the marker of his acceptance as children
- Correction is a necessary part of the training process for righteousness
- God’s discipline is always for our benefit and the display of his glory
- Have you truly welcomed the way of wisdom?
- Have you intentionally invited your heavenly Father to instruct your heart and correct your ways?
The “Examen” was a spiritual discipline that St. Ignatius of Loyola practiced, that we too can practice with God on a daily or weekly basis. This is a discipline that practically invites the wisdom of God, through instruction or correction of our ways.
• Step 1: Ask God to show you the ways you have offended or misrepresented him?
• Step 2: Wait and see what memories he shows or reveals
• Step 3: Repent for your actions or attitudes and ask for God to change youPractical Wisdom
Learning to welcome the way of wisdom from others is also a skill we must learn. For us as Christians to live out our purpose which is to strengthen, encourage, and build others up into their God given potential, we must learn the art of giving and receiving constructive feedback.Constructive Feedback vs Unconstructive Feedback
For those giving the feedback, we must remember that it is only as constructive as its delivery, for it to be received well, it must also be given with wisdom..Discussion Questions
Constructive Feedback vs Circular Feedback
- What makes feedback constructive or unconstructive?
- What is the underlying motive or spirit driving my delivery of feedback to others?
For those on the receiving end of feedback, Circular feedback is the kind that we like to receive, because it reinforces our pre-conceived beliefs and ideas, and typically we arrive back exactly where we began. We do this by surrounding ourselves with other people of the same age, gender, race, or background who will mirror our thoughts and support our perspectives. We do this because we feel safer when others affirm us rather than challenge us.
Constructive feedback though has the opposite agenda to circular feedback, the idea is not to end up where you started but to end up in a different or better place than where you began. This requires inviting a diversity of opinions and welcoming different ideas all with the purpose of producing a better outcome.Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) “as Iron sharpens Iron, so one person sharpens another.”
In every relationship, whether it is professional or personal it is an opportunity to become sharper.Discussion Questions
Proverbs 27:6 (NLT) “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
- What kind of feedback have you welcomed from others? Circular feedback or constructive feedback?
- Have you ever asked those in advisory positions above you, what it’s like for them to lead you? Or what areas can you improve or grow in?
- Have you as the leader or manager ever asked those you lead what it’s like to be led by you, or what can you do better or change?
- Have you ever asked your husband or wife or kids what it’s like to live with you?
- Have you asked a close friend or spouse if you have any character flaws or blind spots?
Proverbs reminds us not to be fooled by flattery, but those relationships who give open and honest feedback display signs of true friendship and can be trusted.