A Skilful Man Will Stand Before Kings
Posted in In line with Scripture
Do you see a man skilful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
— Proverbs 22:29
Now there is a promise of a passport to greater things! And our Lord God Himself is making this promise.
This Proverb is a promise with a condition. The promise is to stand before kings. And we are talking plural here. A skilful man will stand in the presence of mighty and powerful leaders, political leaders. He will stand before them, not crawl or bow down. He will look them directly in the eye on the same level as a peer. It is as if they summoned him to them. And this makes sense, for he is a skilful man, possessing some skill they obviously do not possess. They are looking to him for his services for they acknowledge his superiority in some area.
But he will not stand before obscure men. What? Is he too good for regular folks like you and me? No, the way the word “stand” is repeated gives it a similar context. Obscure men would not be comfortable asking such a skilful one for his help, perhaps because their objectives are so obscure almost anyone could lend a hand. Obscure men would be embarrassed to ask a man of such skill to help them, to take note of and help their unimportant projects because he is sought after by so many others of might, authority, power and renown. It would be cheeky, or more like something bordering on an insult. Why? Because the man of skill is so obviously in a much superior league than they. Now this does not mean he never lends his skill to lowly projects: assuming this man of skill holds other Christian qualities, he will most definitely lend his skill and acumen to projects his wife, his children, his church and his close friends are involved in.
So how did this man become skilful in his work? He was disciplined. He was focused. He not only studied the finer theoretical aspects of his work, but he constantly practised to finely hone and perfect his senses and abilities as they relate to this work. It is said that the great Louis Armstrong, the trumpet player without equal, still practised up to eight hours a day, even while travelling the performance circuit. The man was surely only competing against himself, constantly pushing the boundaries outward.
Natural talent does not make someone skilful. Concert pianists constantly play the piano. Olympic athletes are obsessed with training. Professional writers are profuse writers. The finest engineers are found in engineering shops. Skilful men have mastered certain arts to a degree beyond the common or average. They may be able to perform physical feats of strength or skill or possess mental capabilities such as concentration, memory or spatial conceptualisation that leave the rest of us for dead. There are many experts whose skill lies in the way they see things, and some who are famous for their finely discriminating sense of smell. Whatever natural talent they may have started with, they had to develop it through constant practise and training.
There are at least three applications here for us home educating parents.
First, we need to impress upon our children the need for training, for follow-through, for self-discipline. We need to help them learn how to focus on a task, to concentrate, to filter out distractions, to know when to press on without a break and when to step back for a moment to shake out the stress and check that the whole thing is in perspective. Our children need to learn how to strive for an acceptable standard of excellence in what they do. “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Second, it is our privilege to observe our children and spy out those natural talents and personal passions the Lord has put within them. We can direct and train their tendencies into usable channels. This includes knowing how to discern whether an obsession with computer games is an unhealthy addiction to fast-paced and violent visual and mental stimulation or an urge to conquer ever-greater challenges in the areas of logistics and strategy. “For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment … Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” (Romans 12:3 & 6). We parents should be providing a fair measure of that sober judgment and helping our children to identify their gifts.
Third, we ourselves need to be setting the example and the pace when it comes to the standard we accept for the things which are our responsibilities. One tendency I see in my own life is to let the little things slide so I can concentrate on the bigger, more important items. But the Word of our Lord Jesus Himself says, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.” (Luke 16:10).
Faithful home schooling parents have the unspeakable honour and privilege of working in cooperation with the God of the Universe in moulding His children into men and women of God who, because of their surpassing skill in various areas, will stand before kings and help change this country back round the way it should be. And what is more, they like St Paul will have the opportunity to speak the words of eternal life into the ears of the highest leaders in the land.
From Keystone Magazine
March 2000 , Vol. VI No. 2
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