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November 20 by Doug

I’m going to just hit Proverbs 20:11 and make a few observations.


We have recently gotten my son started in Cub Scouts. It’s part of our effort to make sure that he learns to work together with people of different backgrounds, races, and religions to accomplish goals. The pack he’s in is a remarkably good start for that, considering just how ethnically segregated many places still feel. There are boys of various ages, races, and faiths in the group. It’s a good thing.


After a few meetings, though, he and I have had some conversations about behavior in meetings. His peers haven’t really been bad—they’ve been boys who are sitting down and following rules all day in school, so they are ready to let off steam and move around in the evenings. He has an advantage over them, because he gets to play and let off a lot more boy-energy in the afternoons when he gets his schoolwork done.


So, he’s usually a little more quiet and still when it’s lesson time. Now, I of course remember that when I was his age, we all sat quiet and still and only spoke when spoken to, but the Dark Ages were a different time. (After all, I used to have a brother, but he spoke when not spoken to, and was fed to the alligators. This is as true as the perfect behavior of my generation at that age.)


The challenge for him is that other kids are drawing more immediate attention to themselves. The shout answers, push to the front of the line, and so forth. He was feeling unnoticed for a while, but then both his den leader and his father, separately, pointed out a few good things we had seen. His den leader is being remarkable about asking him questions directly and drawing him into conversation—it actually makes me glad we had to go out of Almyra to find a pack, because he’s having to meet new people.


Ultimately, though, he’s learning to rely on the truth of Proverbs 20:11 through this. If he wants to be known, he should focus on being himself and doing what he knows is right. This is the better path to distinguishing himself than yelling and shoving. True, those behaviors get attention, but he’s learning to channel his desires to wanting to be distinguished, not to get attention.


In all, this is a capsule of what Proverbs 20:11 speaks to. I think one of our broader societal issues is that we do not look for those who distinguish themselves by pure and right conduct. We look for those who draw attention through activity. The former should be our celebrated examples, and not the latter.


This is especially true in Christian circles, both the dangerous trend and the need for correction. Our rising stars and shining examples should be the men and women who distinguished themselves by doing right, not those who sought fame, fortune, and glory.


Proverbs comes from the slightly different place of being addressed to someone who could not avoid the spotlight—being born royalty will do that. Even so, Solomon instructed that righteousness is more important than even that birthright. (I know, Solomon didn’t do so well with that himself.) Let us remember that even more as we consider our futures and decisions.


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