Ancient Wisdom-Modern Solutions
The Proverbs of Solomon, the gathered wisdom of a lifetime of study about God and man, are as timeless as humankind’s needs. It is to us he speaks with clarity and sagacity. Hardly anachronistic and certainly relevant, these sayings have stood the test of time and are barely, if at all, bettered by modern moral philosophers, any moral philosophers for that matter.
He, Solomon, being dead, yet speaks – loud and clear.
Proverbs 1:2-3. “Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline … Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives.”
Wisdom is to lead to discipline, which in turn is to lead to a successfully lived life. In the simplest of terms Solomon is both promising and warning that a life with no reflection on wisdom and no self discipline is never going to be vaguely successful.
His definition of success isn’t merely or only fiscal by orientation. It includes relationships, health, longevity, happiness and influence. This is ‘Shalom’ – peace, completeness and soundness, the latter covering every domain of life. But neither does his definition of success exclude, by sleight of theological hand, financial health.
Wisdom is all and well to reflect on, but discipline is ‘rubber hits the road’ material. Wisdom of itself is theory until practiced. Self-discipline is the only answer to getting ahead, to overcoming the ‘all to human’ tendency of ill or no discipline, to beating bad habits, to … well, just about everything.
Discipline however is inconvenient, it makes us give up one thing in favor of another, and that is usually not an immediate purpose or fulfillment. It requires self-denial for a season, something anathema to people addicted to pleasure and the immediate. It argues against our wish for more sleep, more holidays, less pressure and less hard work. But ignore it at your peril. Many have and continue to do so.
If you want success you have to pay the price of discipline, both self-discipline and the disciplining process of others, but that is another story. Another proverb.