Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: A Storm Is Coming
Preacher: Mark Johnson
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 1:20-33 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you” (Proverbs 1:24-26).
“I told you so.” This is a phrase nobody wants to hear. Ever.
When I was a principal of a school I had the joy of hiring and firing teachers and hourly workers. This, of course, wasn’t a solo effort. A subcommittee of our school board and dignitaries from our conference office were all in on the task. I really enjoyed the process.
One year, we had a spot to fill, and for the first time in my experience in the hiring process there was real contention between support for two different candidates. I felt strongly that we needed to hire a particular candidate and a prominent member of our board (along with his wife) felt strongly about another candidate. They even pulled out the “God has spoken to us about the candidate we favor” card. There was a lot of pushing and pulling, but in the end I got the candidate I really wanted. And it was a complete disaster. Without going into detail, we had to let the candidate go in the end. It was a bad hire.
To cap off the disaster of a bad hire, the couple pushing for the other candidate came into my office and rubbed my nose in it. Essentially they came in with a big “I told you so!”
As I think back on the situation with a little more clarity, I realize that even though they were kind of jerks about it, their opinions on the candidates and positions were right. They had seen what the school needed more clearly than I had. I was simply blinded by the fact that I didn’t really like them and that made me value their opinions less. I was unable to hear good wisdom because of my inability to get over a personal issue. How dumb is that?
When we get mocked by wisdom, it stings. When we look back and see that our own faults led to whatever mess we end up sitting in, it’s not a pretty picture. It’s not that God is laughing at us. Wisdom is. But this is not a fatal “I told you so.” That’s the nice thing about mistakes. We can recover from them, learn from them and do better next time.
I’ve since had the occasion to be in a similar situation and was able, because of my previous mistakes, to make a better decision. Wisdom is sometimes acquired after a mistake. Being laughed at by wisdom can actually teach us valuable life lessons—ones we will never forget.
Recalibrate: Hindsight is 20/20. Is there a way to prepare for life in such a way that we can look back and see more successes than failures?
Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, give me ears to hear and the heart to listen as I navigate through this life with you at the helm.”
Research: Read 9 Ways to Master the Art of Listening by Aletheia Luna.
Remember: “Whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:33, NIV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Play your child’s favorite song. Listen, sing, and dance along as the music plays. Watch as your child learns the pattern of the notes and the words and when to get loud and when to be quiet. Isn’t it amazing how we remember the songs of our childhood? Know that there is always a plan to knock you out of the rhythm of love Jesus has for you. Listen to His words, play them often, dance and sing to them in loud times and quiet times. Live in the wonder of the love song that Jesus wrote for us. Let this song be the soundtrack to your little one’s life.
Can you think of a time when you were having difficulty with a task and someone offered to help you? What did you do? Did you take the help or did you say, “No, I can do it myself.” Sometimes it can be embarrassing to get help, especially if you are doing something the wrong way. Have you ever tried putting a puzzle together and you just know that a certain piece goes in that one spot, but it isn’t fitting like it should. Then maybe someone comes along and finds the piece that actually goes in the space and hands it to you. Facepalm. In Proverbs we are told that foolish people do not want to follow advice or be corrected. Today, find a project that you don’t know how to do. Maybe it’s a cookie recipe or a tricky craft like origami. Ask for help doing it. Tonight when you go to bed, think about how much you learned. What is something you want God to teach you this week?
Nothing seems worse than being caught in a moment of weakness by people who are your biggest critics. Sometimes we aren’t lucky enough to have our sins hidden and we find ourselves faced with public embarrassment. I have had my fair share of embarrassment in my life, and the worse ones come when you have been found making a mistake. Last week I wrote about when I drove through the wrong gate at my college to sneak onto campus. I left that story on a cliffhanger when I told you that as soon as I passed the gate, there was a security car waiting for me. Big mistake!
But there is wisdom in having your mistakes revealed to other people. When you get caught doing something you know you shouldn’t, you have to come face to face with your errors and be held accountable for them. I was given a ticket that day for driving on the wrong side of the road, and because of that, I had less money in my bank account. Lesson learned. While I sure would like to have that money back, it was a relatively cheap lesson to learn that day.
Let’s imagine I wasn’t caught that day for trespassing and no one saw me driving through the wrong gate. What lesson would I have learned? Probably that there are no consequences for my actions. Let’s say that the next time I forgot my keycard I saw another chance to drive through the opposite gate. I would probably do the same thing. But what would happen if I were not careful and the gate were to close as I drove through? I could scrape the side of my car, break the gate, and then have it crash down on top of my car and hurt me or my passenger. I would have to pay for more than just a ticket after all that. And on top of the cost, I would have to live with the guilt of knowing I made such a foolish mistake!
In Proverbs 1:26, Wisdom tells us that because we didn’t listen to her advice and follow her wise ways, she “will laugh at our mistakes and mock us when terror strikes.”
What are some lessons you had to learn the hard way? What did you take from the experience that was negative? What did you take from the experience that was positive? How have you changed how you live because of those lessons? If you were given a second chance to do it over again, how would you adjust your decisions knowing what you know now?
It was June of 2018, and I was headed to Sunset Lake Camp to work for the summer. From College Place, Washington, it was about a four-hour car ride and I was anxious to get there as quickly as possible. However, almost as soon as I hit the highway I saw the oh-so-famous red and blue lights flash in my mirror, and I had the sinking feeling those lights were coming for me. I pulled over and, sure enough, an officer approached to inform me that I was going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit and that I would be given a ticket. Naturally, I started tearing up and thinking about how my parents would be so disappointed in me, and that ticket was all I could think about the four-hour ride to camp. I vowed to never make the same mistake again. However, it was less than a year later that I got pulled over again on the same highway for speeding. Once again, I had to pay for my ticket, meaning that I, as a broke college student, was even more broke. All too often we don’t learn from our mistakes. There are consequences from not learning from our mistakes. In my case, I spent quite a bit of money not learning from my mistakes. But in other situations the consequence might be a severed relationship or broken trust. What are some mistakes other people have made that you can learn from? What are some things that you have done that you can grow from?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.