Saturday In The Proverbs—15 Ways To Defuse Tense Relationships (Proverbs 15)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

Here’s how to defuse potentially volatile situations with other people—

  1. Speak gently (vv. 1, 28)
  2. Speak truthfully (v. 2)
  3. Remember that God is watching (vv. 3, 9, 11, 25, 26)
  4. Speak helpful words or stay silent (vv. 4, 7, 14, 23, 30)
  5. Receive correction from others (vv. 5, 12, 31, 32)
  6. Find ways to add value to other people (v. 6)
  7. Ask for God’s help (vv. 8, 29)
  8. Be gentle (v. 10) 
  9. Develop emotional intelligence (vv. 13, 15, 21)
  10. Don’t envy others (vv. 16, 17, 27)
  11. Guard against getting angry (v. 18)
  12. Remember: good relationships take work (vv. 19, 24)
  13. Use all the wisdom you have… (v. 20)
  14. …get all the wisdom that others have too (v. 22)
  15. Stay humble (v. 33)

Relationships can be one of the greatest treasures in our life, or they can be one of the biggest disappointments in our life. 

Put the ball in your court, and YOU work on making your relationships treasures! 

The Blessing Of Quiet Humility

“When you’re full of yourself, God can’t fill you. But when you empty yourself, God has a useful vessel. Your Bible overflows with examples of those who did.

“In his gospel, Matthew mentions his own name only twice. Both times he calls himself a tax collector. In his list of apostles, he assigns himself the eighth spot.

John doesn’t even mention his name in his gospel. The twenty appearances of ‘John’ all refer to the Baptist. John the apostle simply calls himself ‘the other disciple’ or the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved.’

Luke wrote two of the most important books in the Bible but never once penned his own name.

Paul, the Bible’s most prolific author, referred to himself as ‘a fool’ (2 Corinthians 12:11).

King David wrote no psalm celebrating his victory over Goliath. But he wrote a public poem of penitence confessing his sin with Bathsheba (see Psalm 51).

“And then there is Joseph. The quiet father of Jesus. Rather than make a name for himself, he made a home for Christ. And because he did, a great reward came his way. ‘He called His name Jesus’ (Matthew 1:25).” —Max Lucado, in You!

Check out my book review of You! by clicking here, and you can read some other quotes from this book here.

9 More Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

Those in pastoral ministry are ministers; they are not professional, career-minded, corporate ladder-climbers. John Piper has written a book that I believe every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Here are a few more quotes from this excellent book. 

“Is not our most painful failure in the pastorate the inability to weep over the unbelievers in our neighborhoods and the carnal members of our churches? …  

“I must feel the truth of hell—that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever. ‘These will go away into eternal punishment’ (Matthew 25:46). Even if I try to make the ‘lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15) or the ‘fiery furnace’ (Matthew 13:42) a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. …

“I say to you, on the authority of Scripture, remember, remember, remember the horrid condition of being separated from Christ, without hope and without God, on the brink of hell. ‘Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12). … 

“When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news.” 

“Warning has value in stirring us up to take the glories of holiness and heaven seriously so that we come to see them for what they are and delight in them. But it is the delight in them that causes the true grief when we fall short.” 

“Pastors, you will know your people’s souls best by knowing your own. So try to be ruthlessly honest with yourself.” 

“If the heart is without passion, it will produce lifeless, jargon-laden spontaneity. And if the heart is aflame, no form will quench it.” 

“We ought to experience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to speak often, and publicly, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value.” 

“Eating, exercising, and sleeping are more spiritually relevant in the ministry than we may think. … The point is that we be intentional about how our eating affects the ability of our body to be a helpful partner in seeing the glory of God.” 

“When we say that what we do on Sunday morning is to ‘go hard after God,’ what we mean is that we are going hard after satisfaction in God, and going hard after God as our prize, and going hard after God as our treasure, our soul-food, our heart-delight, our spirit’s pleasure. Or to put Christ in His rightful place—it means that we are going hard after all that God is for us in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.” 

“It will transform your pastoral leadership in worship if you teach your people that the basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God.” 

“Brothers, we are leaders, and the burden of change lies most heavily on us.” 

You can read my full book review of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by clicking here, and you can check out some other quotes from this book here. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 4

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 4

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lectures on Jeremiah 4.]

     The great truth underlying calamity is that the truth and way of God is seen but abandoned because it is too difficult. Unless we understand this we shall misjudge God in His dealings with His people and imagine that He is too stern. … Abandon is not rebellion yet; abandon simply means—“That is a nice vision, but it is not for me.” … 

     The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will with God alone, never first in external circumstances. … When that is done we can go forth with the smiling certainty that our battle is won, nothing will ever again enthrall us on that line. The world, the flesh and the devil have not the slightest power over the man who can rule his own spirit, who has fought the battle out before God and won there. …

     When the secret places of our will before God are revealed you know exactly what you have to do. Let the Word of God bore a hole in your self-complacency about the particular thing He has hauled you up about and then put in another Word that He brings to you, and you will soon find His dynamite at work. … 

     We are choked by a little thing that has not its root in God, which God condemned and we pathetically wept over but left there. … Never put a thing off and say, “It does not matter, no one sees.” No, but they will see you go down like standing corn before the scythe in external circumstances, because you played the traitor to God in secret. If God has revealed anything to you for the tiniest glimmer of a second and you don’t obey Him and cultivate that territory for Him, you will go down when the crisis comes. … 

     The basis of life on earth apart from God is chaos. … No whining and no shirking will ever help us to escape the utter confusion that is at the basis of every bit of human life that has ignored God. … 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

Our battles are won or lost in secret long before they are ever fought externally. 

God’s Holy Spirit wants to dynamite the areas of our life that would cause us to falter in the day of battle. If we will allow Him to deal with these things in private, we will be more than conquerors when that day of external temptation finally comes. 

If we maintain the “It’s no big deal” attitude with God in private, we shall surely be defeated by the temptations when they do come. 

The choice is yours…

8 Quotes From “How To Listen So People Will Talk”

In How To Listen So People Will Talk you will learn some invaluable skills for taking your relationships and your leadership deeper. Becky Harling has given us an amazing resource! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Honestly, it’s impossible to be a good listener without developing a humble spirit. Think about it. When you’re listening and fully engaged, you allow the other person to have all the attention. Listening forces you to lay aside your agenda. It challenges you to let go of your need to share your opinions, theories, and assumptions in favor of listening to another’s feelings, thoughts, and sentiments. That decision can only come from a heart of humility.” 

“Resist the urge to dive in with your own story. … Whenever you dive in with your own story, you are stealing the microphone from the person who is telling their story. … The best advice is to remember to let someone be the star of their own show. Keep the focus on the person talking.” 

“How is it that we who have problems ourselves are so quick to try to fix someone else’s problem? James was spot on when he wrote, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak’ (James 1:19). I’d like to suggest that a great paraphrase for this verse is, ‘Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to give advice!’” 

“Don’t tell people what to do; ask them questions. … You gain greater insight, they gain greater self-awareness, and the two of you grow closer. … When we dare to ask someone what they want, we give them the opportunity to verbalize their need. … The best questions allow people to explore what’s in their hearts.” 

“When you validate another person’s feelings, you’re basically saying, ‘Your feelings make sense.’ You compassionately acknowledge that the person’s feelings are important and that those feelings are understandable. You don’t correct feelings or instruct a person on how to feel. You simply offer understanding. … Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the actions of the other person. … Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just feelings. It’s what we do with those feelings that determines whether or not we sin. … Validate feelings, but only validate actions that line up with Scripture.” 

“In your relationships, what does it look like for you to mimic Jesus and show others how valuable they are? How does your face send the signal, ‘I want to hear what you have to say’? Your nonverbal signals act as a green light, inviting others to share their feelings.” 

“Conflict can be transformational. In the chaos of an argument, if you will listen to understand and focus on meeting the others need, you’ll be more able to work as a team, coming up with a solution that satisfies both. In the end, your relationship will emerge stronger and more resilient.” 

“People are dying to feel heard, and unless we’ve purpose in our hearts to offer our full presence to others, we’ll drift through life distracted and dishonor those who matter to us in the process.” 

10 Quotes From “Life Wisdom From Billy Graham”

I love the wisdom that was constantly flowing from Billy Graham! Before you read these quotes, check out my review of Life Wisdom From Billy Graham by clicking here.

“God will not reject a heart that’s broken and sorry for sin. He’s not waiting to condemn you, to judge you. He’s waiting to kiss you and say, ‘I love you.’” 

“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” 

“God measures people by the small dimensions of humility and not by the bigness of their achievements or the size of their capabilities.” 

“In God’s economy, a person must go down into the valley of grief before he or she can scale the heights of spiritual glory…. One must come to the end of ‘self’ before one can really begin to live.” 

“Everybody needs some friends around him who will say, ‘You are wrong!’ And that includes me. I really value the friendship of people who will just tell it to me like it is, even though I may try to defend my position for a while.” 

“Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart. I urge all people to examine themselves and renew their own hearts before God. Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems that we face in our world.” 

“All of us in Christian ministry need to live and work with integrity. By integrity, I mean the moral value that makes people the same on the inside as they are on the outside—with no discrepancy between what they say and what they do, between their walk and their talk.” 

“The social needs of man call for our urgent attention, but we believe that ultimately, these needs can be met only in and through the gospel. Man’s basic need is to be born from above—to be converted to Christ. Man must be changed. Man’s biggest problem is man himself.” 

“In a world of greed, where materialistic values often take first place, pleasure has become a god—and a great premium is placed on cleverness—our greatest need is moral integrity.” 

“Government will never be better than the men and women who have given their lives to it.” 

Everyone’s A Critic

These are wise words from John Maxwell in The Maxwell Leadership Bible

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1)

Leaders can bank on two truths. First, they will be criticized. Second, criticism always changes the leader. Unhappy people tend to attack the point person.

Moses’ only family criticized him. Notice what God and Moses teach us on how to handle criticism (Numbers 12):

  1. Maintain your humility. (v. 3)
  2. Face the criticism squarely. (v. 4)
  3. Be specific about the issue. (vv. 5-8)
  4. Lay out consequences. (vv. 9, 10)
  5. Pray for the criticizers. (vv. 12, 13)
  6. Restore them when appropriate. (v. 14)

Beyond that, consider the ways leaders should handle criticism:

  1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.
  2. Look beyond the criticism to see the critic.
  3. Guard your own attitude toward the critic.
  4. Keep yourself spiritually in shape. Associate with people of faith.
  5. Wait for time to prove the critic wrong.
  6. Concentrate on your mission; change your mistakes.

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