Lesson 7

As the Needle to the Pole

(Proverbs 10, 20, 21, 29)
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Introduction: How much influence can one leader can have on a country, the church or the family? I was a teen in the 1960's and a young adult in the 70's. I remember, as a young adult, wishing I had been born earlier because I believed the United States had passed its prime. Instead of big, fast, flashy cars, we had little, slow, rough-riding economy cars. We had to wait in line to buy expensive gas. New homes were smaller and had lower ceilings. Just when "central heat" was almost universal, people were reverting to the "old days" and buying wood stove inserts for their fire-places! Some people acted like it was great to chop wood and get up in the middle of the night to add wood to the stove! The United States was embarrassed in Asia and Iran. The economy seemed out of control. I figured it was the end of an age. The future would be limited.

Then we had one leader, a U.S. President, who made the country believe, through his optimism, that we had a bright future. In eight years the mood of the country completely changed. I know my view of the future sure changed.

What does the Bible say about the influence of a leader? What does it say about the obligations of a leader? Let's jump into our lesson and find out!

  1. The "King."

    1. Read Proverbs 29:4. What is meant by the word "justice" in this text? (The rule of law. People are judged based on fair laws, not based on who they are or how much money they have.)

      1. Why would greed for bribes tear down a country? (The king is making decisions based on his personal self-interest, rather than what is right and fair.)

      2. Does this advice apply to a company? To your church? (This is a strong argument for having all of the pastors on a set salary scale within a denomination. When an individual church member is in the position to affect a pastor's salary, it is harder for the pastor to make decisions based on justice rather than self-interest.)

    2. Read Proverbs 29:14. Why does a King's future depend upon the way he judges the poor? Wouldn't it be more logical to say his future depends on the way he judges the rich and powerful? (Solomon's point is that the poor have nothing to give the king. If he judges the poor fairly, then he is a fair man.)

    3. Read Proverbs 20:8. What does "winnows" mean? (No, it does not mean those who drink too much wine. This is the first time I recall the NIV using a more difficult word to understand than the KJV. Winnow means to separate out.)

      1. How can a king separate out evil with his eyes? (This is commonly understood in law. A judge decides the credibility of a witness in part based on demeanor - how they look, how they act when they testify.)

    4. Read Proverbs 20:28. Is this true for Presidents? Do you have more confidence in a President who has a consistent, faithful, philosophy, rather than one who makes decisions based on the most current polls?

      1. Does this advice apply to managers and pastors?

      2. Why does leading through love and faithfulness, rather than fear and dread, work better?

      3. The NAU translates "love and faithfulness" as "loyalty and truth." How important is truthfulness to a leader?

        1. How important is it to followers? (Read Proverbs 22:11. Leaders look for those with a pure heart and kind speech.)

        2. Will a leader set an example for honesty or dishonesty in those he leads? (Read Proverbs 29:2. The honesty and fairness of our rulers impacts upon the people. Proverbs 24:26 tells us "an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips!")

  2. Personal Leadership

    1. Read Proverbs 21:21. Are both righteousness and love necessary? If yes, why? (So many people pursue one, but not both, of these traits. Some insist upon the "righteous standard" and forget about the love aspect. Others are so full of "love" that they ignore the righteous standard. We need both mercy and justice working in our lives.)

      1. What is the connection between righteousness and love on one hand and life, prosperity and honor on the other?

      2. There is an interesting little word in this text, "pursue." What does it add to this verse? Does it mean that we must be righteous and loving to have a good life? (It does not require perfection, it requires us to work at it. If we do, we will, according to this text, "find" this good life.)

    2. Read Proverbs 24:16-18. What is the opposite of righteousness and love in our life? (Evil-doing and revenge. Gloating over the misfortune of our enemies.)

      1. What is wrong with being happy to see the wicked fail?

      2. Have you been guilty of that?

      3. Why does this text talk about a righteous man falling? Why is this relevant to gloating?(First, it lets us know that even the righteous face problems. This is a reason why we should not rejoice in the problems of the wicked. On the other hand, God promises that the difference between the problems of the wicked and those of the righteous is that the righteous will eventually overcome.)

        1. Why do you think the wicked are ultimately brought down? Is it because the Lord punishes them? (Read Proverbs 11:5. God will punish the wicked eventually. However, the wicked fail now because of the way they live.)

    3. Read Proverbs 10:12. Here is a good comparison between love and hatred. Why is love better?

      1. Have you seen the principles of this text proven in your marriage? In dealing with your children? Neighbors? Co-workers?

      2. How can love "cover up" wrongs? Do we want a "cover up?"

        1. Some may say, "I'll wait until [they, he, she] show love and then I will." Does the principle of leadership require that we show love first?

      3. Read Proverbs 10:18. Here is a "cover up." Why doesn't this one work?

        1. What is the only answer to disliking another person? (You cannot successfully conceal your hate. If you slander someone, you get hurt. Therefore, the only safe course is to practice love towards them.)

    4. Read Proverbs 10:21. How can your lips nourish someone other than you? (This is such an important idea for personal leadership. What you say is so important for encouraging and guiding others.)

    5. Read Proverbs 10:27-30. How is God's way (v.29) a "refuge" for the righteous? (These verses make this concept very clear. Obeying God not only brings longer life (v.27), but it brings a better quality of life (v.28-joy), thus creating a safe harbor for the faithful.)

    6. Friend, will you, as a leader, be faithful to God's requirements? Doing God's will is not just a matter of pleasing Him, it is critical to the quality of your life and to your influence on those around you.

  3. Next Week: Apples of Gold.

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