Proverbs 4:13 – Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. (KJV)
For the largest part of my life, I must admit that I was a stubborn person, to say the least. I never wanted to admit that I could not do something, or that I needed the help of anyone else. I have always been a very competitive person, and remain such. But I have learned in the past few years that I do not know everything, and that I cannot do everything by myself.
As a competitive, stubborn person it has always been very difficult for me to accept, much less ask for, the assistance of another person. I always thought I could figure anything out on my own. I had the manly mentality of throwing the instructions to the wind, and tackling the project on my own. Even in school, my last resort when attempting to learn how to do something new on the computer was to read the book, or look in the help file. Rarely, if ever, would I call someone else to help me figure out the problem.
But over the past few years, I have come to the realization that it is okay to ask for help, and that receiving instruction from my co-workers often allows me to finish a task much faster and with less frustration than if I had attempted to do it on my own. I have truly come to value the input and instruction of other people. And now I am much quicker to consult the help files and instructions when working with new computer programmes or tools. After all, who knows the product better than the person who wrote the instructions and help documents?
A shining example of the value of instructions recently occurred when my wife and I purchased our first gas grill. Of course I was not going to pay someone to put it together for me. I thought I could take all of the parts out of the box, and just start putting it together. I quickly learned that I would have to read the instructions. Had I attempted to put the grill together without the help of both my wife and the instruction manual, it would still be sitting in the box today.
Solomon hit the nail on the head when he instructed us to "take fast hold of instruction, and let her not go." So many of the daily problems in our lives would be much easier to overcome if we humbled ourselves and looked to others for instruction. And when no one else seems to be able to help, there is always that one constant, infallible source of instruction: God's word.
Accepting or looking for instruction does not make one a person any less wise or knowledgeable. It takes much more wisdom to admit that one needs help than to struggle along alone — a lesson that I have learned the hard way many times.
Prayer: Gracious God, give us the wisdom to seek proper instruction in our lives, and the humility to accept the assistance of others around us. Amen.