Proverbs 24:10 Small Strength

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

Proverbs 24:10

Such a point-blank statement we would do well to keep in mind! Nobody wants to be considered weak. Lacking courage is not a desired virtue. What can we do if we find ourselves in this boat?

Train.

We can build our courage up. We can practice doing hard things that takes us out of our comfort zones. And what is one of the best ways to train our courage?

Train our bodies.

A strong, fit body leads to higher self-esteem. And a person who believes in himself, he will be more likely to step up when he is needed.

Discipline is needed to work your body. The mind must tell the body to get going and to keep going. The mind tells the body which foods are going to provide the greatest benefit and which foods are not worth eating.

And if the mind is the catalyst to kickstart the body’s motion, the heart is the coach that tells the body to keep going. The heart is where courage resides and where it is trained. Conditioning of the heart makes it stronger.

If I don’t want to faint in the day of adversity, then I must strengthen my courage. I can start by doing a little “something uncomfortable” each day. I can build up gradually through training and preparation. In time, I can be strong. I can be courageous.

Striving for Perfection, Catching Excellence

Around the perimeter, my wife and I walked laps around the track. We talked, we laughed, and we burned off a few extra calories. It was a low-stress activity that will hopefully strengthen our muscles and improve our bone density.

On the field, our son was practicing with his soccer team. He loves playing and having some of his best friends from school makes it more enjoyable. With each practice he gets better. At this level, one talented player can dominate the rest of the team. That might work in the short-term, but eventually the team’s success will depend on the abilities of the rest of the team. The better they can defend, pass, and communicate amongst each other, the better their chances of consistently winning.

Alec might not say it, but he wants to be perfect. He doesn’t like missing shots, giving up the ball to the other team, or losing. That is understandable. Who wants to lose?

Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.

Vince Lombardi

When I first started writing, I was still trying to find my voice. The quality of my writing was not good, a far cry from excellence. Thankfully, I have readers who let me know when I miss the mark, and they are usually quick to point out my mistakes. It upsets me when I overlook something, but I take it for what it is. Their critique and my willingness to improve makes me better. I will never be a perfect writer, but I am going to chase it with everything I got. I am going to be relentless and maybe one day, I too will catch excellence.

Feature photo by Donnycocacola on Unsplash

Proverbs 22:7 The Rich and the Poor

The rich rule over the poor,

If you have enough money, you can pay to have others work for you. Some have so much, they can even dictate governmental policy giving them the ability to truly rule over the poor.

and the borrower is servant to the lender. -Proverbs 22:7

nobody would willingly want to be a slave, yet they have no problem going into debt for most of their lives. Can you ever be rich if you are in debt? Can you ever be free?

Poor Trade-Offs

The man was tired. All day long, he had been working in his father’s fields. It was no easy chore, but as the oldest son, one day those fields would be his. The labor he performed on that day was well worth the reward he would have in the future.

When he got home, his brother, who had not been working in the fields, was in the kitchen making dinner. It was a stew prepared with lentils and fresh meat. The aroma from the stew and the fresh-baked bread was enough to drive the older son crazy. He asked his brother for some. The brother said yes on one condition: trade your birthright for the dinner. The older brother pleaded with him. He said if he didn’t eat soon, he was going to die. The younger sibling didn’t budge. Finally, the deal was made. For Jacob’s stew, Esau filled his belly and gave away his inheritance (Genesis 25:29-34).

For one morsel of food, he sold his birthright. -Hebrews 12:16

How many remember this story? Who could be so desperate to do such a thing? Esau’s father, Isaac, was probably one of the wealthiest in the area. Esau could have gone somewhere else to get food. He could have waited a little longer and made his own supper. But instead of holding out for the greater reward of his inheritance, he traded it away for the immediate gratification of filling his belly.

What a fool! And yet, how many times in my life have I done the same thing? How many times have I traded a better future for something insignificant? I call Esau a fool. I read the story as a kid. I knew what it was about. I did the same thing. Not once, but too many times to count. Who is the fool now?

True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but fidelity to a worthy purpose.

Helen Keller

Loyalty to a purpose. It is rather simple. The journey is not all interstate and smooth sailing. There are dirt roads and treacherous paths. The stops along the way are not designed to help us reach our destination. Instead, they are strategically placed to get us to stop, to stay. As enticing as they seem, would it not be better to keep on going?

Feature art: Esau Sold Jacob his Birthright and the Mess of Pottage by Matthias Stom

Proverbs 20:6 A Faithful Man

What is a faithful man? At first thought, it is one that is loyal, dependable, and can be counted on. He doesn’t say what he is going to do. Nope! He just does it. If you want to find a faithful man, then you must look to his actions.

And what would be the opposite of a faithful man? Well, to find one, you must also look to his actions, or the lack thereof. For this person will talk a good deal and accomplish little. He will have plenty of words, but he won’t be loyal or dependable, and you would better off not counting on him.

Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?

Proverbs 20:6

Proverbs 19:11 Slow to Anger

There is a type of discretion in which a person can speak without causing the listener offense. This is not weakness. It is not beating around the bush. It is honest and directed in such a way that the listener can walk away with his feelings intact.

If a speaker is unable to do this, they will often cover their inability with the phrase, “I meant no offense.” It is not the best approach, but in this day and age, it is usually accepted.

And then there is a total lack of discretion. The speaker burns everything in his path without remorse or regard for the listener. This approach requires little thoughtfulness and even less tact.

Thinking before you speak and choosing your words carefully will eliminate many quarrels. You will be less likely to get angry and less likely to anger your audience.

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.

Proverbs 19:11

And if you are the listener, consider the latter half of this proverb. It is your glory to not be offended. These days, this is not something we see often. It seems that many of us are offended by the slightest provocation. But as Epictetus once said, “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master. They can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by them.” The offense is only offensive if you allow it to be so.

Let us, therefore, put our egos aside. If we truly want the glory, we should take the high road and not let ourselves be offended.

Click for 10 Reasons to Slow Your Anger

Hated for Who You Are

You could pretend to be something you are not. It might work for a while in fooling others, but in time your façade will be exposed. All would look well on the surface. And on the inside, all would be at odds.

However, some might suggest you should fake it until you make it. In some instances, this could work if you were actively trying to make it. But without any internal change, faking it would only be another form of pretend.

I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was at the forefront of a new and polarizing music genre. What was this grunge music? It wasn’t like the Rock ‘n Roll people were used to. Some people loved it; others hated it. Cobain was a talented artist. He could have played any genre of music he chose. But that wasn’t him. And so, he stayed true to himself. He played his own music.

Maybe, you are not happy with where you are at in life. Maybe, you aspire to greater things. This is not pretending. This is becoming who you were meant to be.

Feature photo by rockpaperphoto.com

Proverbs 17:27-28 Quiet and Calm

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

Proverbs 17:27

The sparing of words and a calm spirit. I wish I could say this is me. But alas, it is not. Too many times I have spewed out words like the breaking of a dam. And every single time, I have later regretted it. And though, I strive for a calm spirit, the mastery over my emotions has been a lifetime battle.

Should I exclaim, “Woe is me,” having neither knowledge nor understanding? Not yet. All is not lost. I realize my shortcomings. Now, I must continue to practice. Practice—what I need to master both tongue and spirit.

Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

Proverbs 17:28

A coworker once told me the reason he doesn’t speak much. When I first posed this question to him when he was a still a teenager, he gave me this profound answer, “I don’t want to sound like an idiot.” His words echoed of ancient wisdom. He is no fool that keeps his mouth shut. So much I have yet to learn!

Be Yourself

Popeye was one of my favorite cartoons as a child. He was a somewhat normal guy trying to do the right thing. When times got rough, he would crack open a can of performance enhancing spinach and solve the problem.

That is what I wanted to be like—a normal guy able to overcome the obstacles of life. Of course, I didn’t want to be in a position where I was always getting bullied, where I was forced to drink a cup of courage in my direst need, just able to survive to see the next day.

I yam what I yam and dats all what I yam. -Popeye the Sailor Man

I quoted the quote and sang the song, but back then I never considered taking it to heart. I am what I am. I am not Popeye, not like Mike (Jordan), or any other childhood hero. Nope. I am what I am. I can emulate the actions of my heroes and mentors, but in the end, I must remember:

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

Oscar Wilde

Proverbs 15:19 Like a Hedge of Thorns

The thorns tore at my skin, ripping my uniform to shreds. Every step was slow and treacherous. The last thing I wanted to do was go down. I looked at my watch; time was ticking. My next checkpoint was just ahead. As a young soldier, I was inexperienced at land navigation. Therefore, I found myself tangled in a field of thorns.

As the years went by, I did eventually get better. With practice and experience, I learned to stay out of the briar patch.

The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the diligent is a highway.

Proverbs 15:19

The lazy man may never know it, because once he is stuck, he doesn’t have the drive to extricate himself. He doesn’t know that if he keeps going, the way will get easier. This is true in any endeavor we undertake. If we allow laziness to creep in, we will find ourselves tangled and unable to move. Only through diligence and persistence, can we find ourselves travelling in an easier fashion. Discipline equals freedom (Jocko Willink). And in this case, discipline is needed to get started and to keep going.