Zev Porat

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Learning From Those Who Came Before: Proverbs 1:8-9

As a child I thought my grandparents were the coolest people because their house was the place where I could go and do all the things that my parents would not allow. Our grandparents let us grand-kids stay up late, eat junk food whenever we wanted,  drag countless toys all over the house with very little organization, and simply allowed us to be kids. All these years later I am more than positive that my grandparents would still allow me to behave this way if I wanted. Now, do not misunderstand me, my grandparents expected respect and corrected us when we were wrong but they possessed the wisdom of how to balance allowing us to be kids but expecting us to behave in a manner of respect. Often I wondered how my grandparents were so good at their role in my life. For example, my grandparents would expect the same level of respect that my parents expected as I was growing up, but my grandparents never had to discipline me because I was disrespectful towards them. I was willing to honor them, respect them, love them, and willing to do things for them that my parents would all but have to threaten me to accomplish. How was this possible? Honestly, I believe it comes down to wisdom. My grandparents raised their children and came through that possessing the knowledge of what to do as a parent and what not to do as a parent. In turn, my grandparents took that acquired knowledge and applied it to their role in the lives of their grandchildren, and therefore, are beloved because of their efforts. What did my grandparents do that was so special? They exercised wisdom.


Wisdom is not only contained within the realm of grandparents, wisdom exists as a vital part of the function of a church. As the Lord has moved me from youth ministry into a ministry that encompasses all age ranges within the church community I have learned more intimately the need for learning from those who have gone before me both in ministry and life, in general. This is nothing against youth ministry and those whom God has called to work within youth ministry, but youth ministry is a very age specific component within the community of believers. Outside of youth ministry exists a whole realm of ministry that is absolutely vital to the overall life of a local church. Specifically, outside of youth ministry are adults who have forgotten more practical knowledge than I have learned so far in my life. I praise God for His allowing me to enter such a fertile ground where I can learn from those who have gone before me in ministry and life. As the current Men's Ministry Director, I am blessed to have the former director actively serving in our men's group and available for me to ask questions and seek Godly counsel. Moreover, I count myself blessed as I teach a Bible study group to have other men who have taught for years make themselves available for questions and help. It would behoove me to use the wisdom of these Godly men as they have been through the trials of ministry and learned some lessons the hard way. My personal life is no different. I would be foolish not to seek counsel from those who have come though the trials of marriage, the highs and lows of raising children, and the daily grind of living a life of honoring God in the crazy world in which we live.


The church community is blessed to have many individuals who have traveled the roads of life that many other believers are currently walking along. Moreover, within the community of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior there are many opportunities for young believers (both in age and biblical understanding) to seek out the Godly wisdom of those who have gone before. Likewise, many battle-tested believers stand ready and willing to take less experienced believers under their wings in an effort to teach the less experienced about life and living to honor the Lord throughout their lives. This relationship takes the efforts of two individuals working together in humility under submission to Jesus Christ—one individual who recognizes his/her need for help because he/she does not have all the answers and another individual who is willing to take his/her experiences and use them for the maturing and building up of another.


Proverbs 1:8-9 reads, "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." While I am aware this proverb is accredited to Solomon and his direct audience was his own children, I cannot help but think what the community of believers would look like if those who are younger in the faith looked up to those spiritual fathers and mothers within the church community and allowed their wisdom and instruction to have a tangible impact. When we reject the wisdom of those who have gone before us we leave ourselves spiritually disabled to repeat the mistakes of those who came before instead of standing upon the truths they have already discovered. Just as we expect children to follow the instruction of their parents, the community of Jesus Christ would do well to follow the instructions of those individuals who have been through the struggles of living their faith daily. Of course, this takes humility and selflessness but the outcome is a body of believers built up in unity and love. Thus, my challenge for those within the body of Christ is twofold: 1) look for an opportunity to learn from those individuals whom God has placed around as spiritual dads, moms, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and 2) seek out those whom God has place around who need a spiritual dad, mom, grandparent, uncle or aunt to learn from.    


James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years. 
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment