Proverbs, a book of the Old Testament, was compiled by King Solomon almost 3,000 years ago. Nonetheless, this monarch’s secrets remain as relevant and practical as when first penned. This is not surprising. Human nature has not changed in the intervening millennia.
The third chapter of Proverbs, which was written to stand alone, gives ten secrets of success. The first seven secrets and the last each come with a promise, showing what can be expected (as a rule of thumb) when its admonition is followed. In this article, I have adapted those secrets as business advice.
Secret 1: Keep the law; you’ll get more out of your day, live longer, and have greater peace.
We are moral beings. Living by moral principles makes business more straightforward, keeps our footing secure and shields us from a good deal of worry, heartache, and disgrace. When we are doing what is right, we can concentrate more on the issues at hand than when we are distracted by negatives such as the fear of discovery. (Rule 1 is based on Proverbs 3:1,2)
Secret 2: Be kind and honest; then you will find favor with God and men.
Most of us appreciate the person who gives us an encouraging word, stands with us when we make a mistake, and doesn’t throw the book at us. We appreciate those who don’t hog our credit. And we appreciate those who keep their word. A study showed that one of the few characteristics that the majority of self-made millionaires have in common is that they keep their word. (Based on Proverbs 3:3,4)
Secret 3: Trust completely in God; you’ll find direction and be a lot healthier.
None of us can see the end from the beginning. But those who trust in God need not fret when business undergoes a reverse. They don’t kill themselves if the stock market plunges or a factory burns down. They believe God will ultimately bring good out of such events. Quite simply put, if we look to God in our business dealings, he guides us, even if we don’t realize it at the time. Knowing this helps us to overcome serious reverses. Read the lives of Cyrus McCormick, John Wanamaker, or Lewis B. Tappan if you doubt this. Studies have shown that those who consider themselves believers lead happier lives over all. (Based on Proverbs 3:5-8)
Secret 4: Be generous toward God and people; you’ll have more to show for it.
Solomon recognized that those who honor God first out of whatever they acquire (which includes giving to true charities), tend to prosper. One reason may be mental health. People who feel grateful tend to be happier. People who share with others have a pleasure misers can never know. Also, when we give, we are forced to think more carefully how to employ what we have left. This makes us better managers. (Based on Proverbs 3:9-10)
Secret 5: Accept correction; it is a sign God loves you.
We need to learn from our mistakes. In my own life, rebuke has often been my best teacher. If God thinks you are salvageable, he will correct you. (Based on Proverbs 3:11-12)
Secret 6: Learn the principles and science behind your business; you’ll make fewer mistakes, have better grounds for your decisions, and sleep easier.
Solomon wrapped his sixth secret of success inside words of praise for wisdom. The fact is, we should learn the science and sound principles behind whatever business we engage in. The laws of economics cannot be flouted with impunity any more than the laws of aerodynamics. (Based on Proverbs 3:13-24)
Secret 7: Stay calm during crisis; trust the Lord instead, and your foot won’t slip.
Kipling wrote a poem which begins and ends like this:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
His poem is an appropriate commentary on Solomon’s seventh secret. (Based on Proverbs 3:25,26)
Secret 8: Pay in a timely fashion.
No one appreciates being told the check is in the mail when it isn’t. Pay your employees and creditors in a timely fashion if there is any possible way to do so. It gains you the respect and confidence of those you deal with. (Based on Proverbs 3:27,28)
Secret 9: Tolerate Competition.
Do you remember the days of gas wars, when stations tried to drive each other out of business by undercutting their prices? In Southeast Asia, gangs killed competitors in franchise wars between similar products. This is a poor business model. Today we know that if you put two pharmacies or two grocery stores on a corner, both will usually do better than either one alone. Competition is good for those who work hard and use innovative methods to hold the highest standards against competitors. (Based on Proverbs 3:29,30)
Secret 10: Engage in fair business practices; then you’ll have the Lord on your side.
Any kind of coercive business dealing, whether by a corporation, mob, labor union, guild, or government, hurts the economy as a whole. When Spain expelled its Jews, its economy collapsed. When Acorn harassed bankers who would not give mortgage loans to those who could not repay, it contributed to a situation in which the housing market collapsed and the United States went into an economic meltdown. On a smaller scale, businesses which trick people into signing documents, or who offer sneaky fine print, lose credibility. There are web sites I visited once but won’t visit again because they tricked me with pre-checked subscription buttons. These are all forms of coercion. Deal openly and fairly. The long-term benefits go far beyond anything in this world. As Solomon put it, the Lord’s curse is in the house of the wicked: but he blesses the habitation of the just. “Surely he scorns the scorners: but he gives grace to the humble. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” (Based on Proverbs 3:31-35)
by Dan Graves