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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 25:7

Proverbs 25:7

"For it is better that it be said to you, "Come up here," than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen"

This is one of the “better than” proverbs, which tries to teach us a principle about life and how things really work. These types of proverbs give us the position of aged wisdom in accessing the relative value of various actions. In this proverb the comparison is between clamoring and competing with colleagues for position, promotion, and attention from the boss and winning through the force of your personality and shrewdness only to be left stranded when another person is selected as the recipient of the boss’ favor. This type of competitive arrogance is contrasted with situational humility in which you do the right things during work to get the boss’ attention but do not force your way into his/her attention in the banquet hall. In fact, you rather purposely place yourself in the humble position at the lower prestige table or the back of the room. This then allows the boss to need to honor you with inviting you to the head table or the better position in front of others.

This invitation up is to be preferred, the proverbs says, rather than the situation in which you are asked to make way for someone else because you have pushed and shoved yourself to a place of prominence.

In our day and age, the boss might not move you down during the banquet but would notice your arrogance, and it would not be well received.

Jesus makes this same point in the gospels. This means that we have the wisest human making this point about pride and humility and Jesus, the Son of God, making the exact same point when he walked the earth.

The point is do not promote yourself so aggressively that you will need to be demoted to make room for others but rather be willing to carry yourself with humility and let your actions and previous work speak for itself when you are noticed and featured by the boss.

The principle here is that it is better to be noticed and promoted by others than scratch and claw for attention only to be seen as overreaching. Do not put yourself in a position in which others will think or say "You really don't belong here" or "I think you are out of your league."

This principle does not mean that you should not do things and work hard to be noticed by the boss for your work but rather that you should not be so aggressive as to shove your "wonderfulness" in his/her face. Let your boss be the one who needs to recognize your contribution.

This speaks to another principle in proverbs: Do not be the herald of your own wonders; let another praise you and not your own lips.

Few people are disdained as much as people who are constantly going on and on about how wonderful they are; all the places they have traveled; how many awards they have won; how whatever you have done they have done something better or more spectacular.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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