Solyndra, The Big 12 and the Book of Proverbs

I was reflecting over my 36 years in the church (granted only 20 of those years I was paying attention) and I couldn’t recollect ever hearing a sermon series on the book of Proverbs. I am sure there is a logical reason as to why not, but I am not for sure what that would be. Maybe Proverbs doesn’t have the theological zip of Romans. Perhaps it doesn’t neatly unpack the Gospel like the book of Galatians. I guess thousand year old proverbs just aren’t sexy enough. Some may view the book of proverbs like one big lecture from your dad or more like an endless supply of linguistic versions of the Successories motivational posters like this one.

It seems as though each day brings another barrage of colossal blunders within our society. Nothing is safe. Everything from failed multi-billion dollar firms all the way down to football conferences . I wonder if we all couldn’t use a little bit more plain old common sense in our lives. You may or may not be aware of some of the specifics on what led to the recent default of the solar giant Solyndra. Megan McArdle of The Atlantic recently wrote an article attempting to follow the trail of just where $535 million dollars of our money went in the two very short years it took for Solyndra to declare bankruptcy. Her conclusion?

“…as I’ve said before, I don’t think this is going to end up being a story about corruption. I think it’s going to end up being a story about bad decision making: at Solyndra, among its investors, and in the Obama administration. People took large bets with low expected values, because the alternative was admitting that the money they’d already spent was gone, and not coming back. They doubled down, just like some chump who lost his stake at the Vegas blackjack tables”

Well, I don’t know about you, but that just makes me want to hurry up and get my taxes done early to help fund some more brilliant economic recovery endeavors. How about a more local example of ineptitude? I can’t tell if the recent plight of the Big 12 resembles more an episode out of Spy vs. Spy or The Three Stooges. You have to admit, it seems as though wisdom is poorly regarded in our current culture. Try it yourself. What associations come into your mind when you think of the word wisdom? Prude, old, boring, strict?

Youthful energy and attitude are held as the gold standard in our culture while the Book of Proverbs proclaims wisdom to be MORE precious than gold. Norman Cousins once said “wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences”. I love that. It is another way of saying experience is necessary to understand there are consequences to actions and those experiences make us wise to future consequences. In the book of Proverbs God has given us wisdom through His experience. It is as though we have a blueprint of the way things ought to be.

Adhering to the principles found in the book of Proverbs does not guarantee success. In fact there are just as many proverbs preparing hearts for failure as there are encouraging success. Possibly the greatest lesson to be learned in the study of the book of Proverbs is to submit to the reality that we don’t know it all and we have a lot to learn. Maybe along with the rest of us, the leaders of Solyndra and the Big 12 could use a little insight from Proverbs 28:25 “the greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper”.

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