The late Apple founder Steve Jobs once said that "you've got to find what you love" and that "the only way to do great work is to love what you do". Our guest for the latest Logos Live podcast, Allan Bulman reflected on this statement and correctly observed that this philosophy is of little use to the person living in an Indian slum without many options available to them. Jobs' maxim only works when we have multiplicity of choice.
Yet there are times when "doing what you love" can lead to poor decisions. Allan outlined people he has observed in life who have attempted to 'do what they love', but have not built a career or done anything particularly productive. This has meant that they have overlooked other responsibilities and are in a somewhat challenging position.
Allan's observation is exactly what Proverbs 28:19 says,
Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty
If you're not particularly good at your fantasies, or what you love, or they don't pay, then impoverishment will be the result. Your life will end up being a slow moving train wreck.
Indeed, perhaps surprisingly the book of Proverbs is full of practical, relevant wisdom in living life well in Australia today. Certain decisions will invariably lead to certain outcomes - wise decisions will lead to good outcomes, and poor decisions will lead to disaster. Allan outlined some of the 'train wreck' decisions he's observed in his life and in the lives of others. For example, the man who commits adultery (particularly within the office) creates enormous challenges and difficulties which were not anticipated initially in the affair. Hence a train wreck is the result, again, precisely as Proverbs 6:27 observes,
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?
One is naive if they think they can have an adulterous affair without there being damage to himself or others around him - just like fire in a lap.
Perhaps the Bible might have some relevance in our world today after all?
Wisdom is the guiding principle
The book of Proverbs is about gaining wisdom and it proposes that wisdom begins with the 'fear of the Lord'.
Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
and humility comes before honour (Proverbs 15:33).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom for to properly discern the patterns of the world we need to understand the one who creates theese patterns in the world.
Our world is not a chaotic mess, there is a moral order and a pattern which leads to 'the good life' - a life of flourishing. We can observe at times some of these patterns, and this is what the book of Proverbs shows us - i.e. that certain decisions do lead to certain outcomes. Yet these patterns make more sense and are more easily discerned when we 'fear' or hold in reverence the one who created the patterns.
This is why humility is so important, because it acknowledges that we are ultimately dependent on the creator of these patterns. We need humility to listen to what this creator says about what is good and right in this world, because we have an all too great proclivity to make train wrecks of our lives.
So once we understand these patterns, and the one who created these patterns, we may indeed be able to make wiser decisions.