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Wisdom for the modern workplace

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:12).

He wrote his wisdom in the form of proverbs and taught them to his kingdom.

Someone once said that a proverb is a “short sentence based on long experience.”

Here is a modern version of what Solomon wrote, as it applies to my workplace. I posted my list over my desk, when I was a supervisor. I got the idea from something I read. A CEO had his “rules” posted where he used to keep all of his awards and invited employees to read them. Then he would ask for their feedback as to whether they thought the company was following them or not. For this version of my list, I have included the references in the book of Proverbs that these “rules” were drawn from.

Much of what I do can be explained by the policies of the people who sign my paycheck (20:2).

I am ready to give the benefit of the doubt, to understand and to show mercy whenever I can. Now tell me the truth. (3:3)

Everyone gets to be a jerk 10 percent of the time, but try for 5 percent. More than 10 percent, we need to talk (10:8).

When there is a problem, the only people who need to know about it are those who are part of the problem or part of the solution. (See 10:12 and 17:9. “Covering” sin doesn’t refer to hiding it, but to restoring modesty to a situation.)

Criticize in private, praise in public. (See above references.)

The answer to gossip is the truth, not more gossip (11:9).

Ventilate in private with trusted friends (Ecc. 7:21).

We are paid to work together. Getting along and being friendly is part of the job (20:3). Having real friends at work is a plus.

To do things better, organizations have to change. So do their employees (12:15).

Overlooking minor insults is also part of the job (12:16).

Smart people know how to listen (1:5).

Fools talk a lot. Smart people say much with little (15:28).

Be fair first, then clever (16:12).

Sometimes when we are fair, people mistake this for being clever (10:31). This cannot be explained.

Doing right is more of a journey than a destination (12:26, the Hebrew word for “guide” suggests someone who travels, or searches). It is something we have to work at (11:12), like any other skill.

No criticism is ever given by the right person, at the right time, in the right way. Smart people listen for the truth, not the style (9:8).

Those who can’t learn from their mistakes are dangerous, no matter how smart they are (9:8; 12:15).

People are used to getting less than promised (20:11). I can change my part in that.

Be fully present at work (18:9); fully absent when you leave.

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