When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.
Another one of those verses I've read for years and never really stopped for more than a millisecond to actually think about what principle God might be teaching through these words. In fact, I've been shamed as I've read through Proverbs this month and realized just how very often that is the case, that I've essentially rammed my way through these passages of Scripture, resting on those words that seem familiar or already known and ignoring the rest. I've missed a lot by so doing - hopefully a habit that will now remain in the past.
This verse caught my eye because it reminds me of what happens sometimes when I leave my kids supervising each other... when I have students working together in a cooperative activity... in our family when Tim and I are set on our own individual agendas instead of working together for what's best for the group... in an organization where each leader figures his/her goal should be everyone's priority... in corrupt governments where aid money is spent on the foreign/better education of an official's child instead of paying local teachers...
That list of examples could go on, and on, and on, and on.
This verse really hits home. At times, Tim and I can look at one of our children and we'll not only sense but clearly see the fruit of a rebellious, obstinate and unteachable heart. We can be so quick to lay the fault at the feet of the child. But what if it is because that child senses... sees... many "rulers" and a spirit of disunity in his or her home? What if that child is simply responding to:
- mom not submitting to the authority of dad?
- dad not valuing wife's leadership and discipleship of their children?
- both parents resisting obedience to their authorities (speeding, murmuring about work policies and expectations, balking at international flight requirements...)?
- parents obeying the letter of the law while complaining and thus not holding up the spirit of the law?
- many individuals set on individual priorities and agendas instead of considering the interests of others before their own, instead of truly working and living in community?
Discernment and wisdom, as a ruler or leader, means we understand that we're not too good or above our own rules, that we are responsible to those we lead, that their failures can often be traced back to a failure on our own part...
that my failure can leave others choking in the wake that trails behind me.