IT DOESN’T TAKE LONG for the glamour of holding public office in DC to wear off — it is extremely difficult to be away from the intimacy of your spouse and family. And the endless commuting can become emotionally and physically wearisome. Without diligence and certain disciplines, DC will become a hazard to you. What then are some biblical and practical insights that can help you to not only maintain — but actually improve — your quality of life so it is increasingly pleasing to God? How can you not only stay on track — but accelerate godliness — in spite of this lifestyle of constant disruptions, pressures, demands and temptations? There is a way to live victoriously regardless!
In this study I will attempt to provide you with nine considerations and principles from Proverbs that will keep you from derailing in DC.
Read on my friend — and make plans to regularly participate in the respective Senate and Congressional Members Bible Studies. See below for meeting times and locations.
President & Founder
The Book of Proverbs contains many an Aphorism (“a brief, brilliant statement of a principle”). Aphoristic communication is one of the most basic forms of instruction. In the ancient world, when books were few, institutions of learning rare, and peoples’ minds unpracticed in reasoning, the use of terse (that is to say, effectively concise, penetrating, striking, and arresting) sentences was the most efficient means of inculcating moral, life-guiding precepts. It remains so today: for instance, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a good memorable statement relative to the skill at living life. Such small statements arrest and influence listeners in ways huge. Aphorisms are a major means by which that writer of Proverbs communicates wisdom.
Lest you conclude Proverbs to be only a collection of aphorisms it is not. It contains much noble language; commentator Charles Bridges (my favorite old English commentary writer on Proverbs — and by far the best) eloquently summarizes the overall linguistic demeanor of the book:
All the beauties of language, and all the force of eloquence are poured forth in the diversified form of earnest expostulation, insinuating tenderness, captivating argument, and sublime allegory, to win [one] to virtue and piety, and to fix him in a steady pursuit of his duties towards God and man . . . . Wisdom is therefore allegorized as a tree of life, yielding delicious shade, fruit, and protection to those that approach her branches; throwing the garland of honour around their shoulders, and decorating their heads with a graceful chaplet, more precious than rubies. She is a sage and eloquent monitor, lifting up her warning voice in the gates and in the squares of the city . . . .
I so appreciate Bridges’ wisdom and prose. He is such an elegant communicator. I will treat you to his writing when appropriate.
In a categorical, topical study of this book, what advice might God give leaders relative to having to travel all the time? When the battles and the commuting wear you out, what is Proverbs’ formula for maintaining and renewing strength? What follows are Solomonic insights — some aphoristic — into principles that afford the highest quality of life no matter the circumstances! What follows are inviolate internal qualities all must practice, no matter where one finds him or herself vocationally or geographically. Proverbs 15:24 best captures what we’re after here . . . .
The path of life leads upward for the wise, that he may keep away from Sheol below.
Sheol is another name for Hell in the OT; it is a place of death, of no return (Job 7:9), darkness (Psa. 143:3) and torment (Isa. 14:11). Commuting to DC every week can become deadly, dark, and tormenting! It can quickly turn into a hellish lifestyle! Don’t let it, my friend! Unfortunately, many are those in DC who have fallen to it. By way of contrast, and much less gloomy, the preceding portion of this introductory Proverb indicates that the more one trusts in and fears God and walks in His ways — the path of life — the further one will keep away from sheol, or death in this present life.
The believer, at the point of justification (or salvation), is seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (cf. Eph. 2:6), where his or her citizenship already lies (cf. Phil. 3:20). Accordingly they are (adapted from Bridges, p. 214-5) . . . .
Born from above; taught from above, and walking above, while living here on earth. Theirs is a soaring life indeed! These are the individuals whose souls mount, rise above, look aloft, and continually enter into the holiest, finding his or her resting place in the bosom of God. This is the transcendent life all yearn for! Not only is this out of the reach of carnal men, but beyond their comprehension (cf. Job 11:7-9) . . . . The Children of God walk . . . . with a holy loftiness above the debasing so-called pleasures of earth.
Lest you think I don’t know what you go through, Danielle and I commute to DC every week of Session just like you do. So how do we all live a life that transcends the latent difficulties of DC? How can we live more than victorious, but joyfully, in full control of our faculties, expressly focused on our purpose here? What are the paths of life — if you will walk in them — that will lead you upward, transcending the downward pull of your commute?
II. NINE WAYS TO INCREASE A COMMUTER’S QUALITY OF LIFE
A. BY FEARING THE LORD
The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (10:27)
The fear of the LORD is a major theme in Proverbs. It speaks of a reverential awe, admiration and submission to Him. Such is foundational for receiving instruction from those whom He has called out to instruct you (cf. Eph. 4:11-12; Rom. 10:15), and obtain a subsequent and constant stimulation and increase in spiritual knowledge — which leads to an ensuing manifestation of wisdom. In both the sense of one’s positional standing before God, and in a practical possession of humility toward one’s maker, therein lie the essential ingredients of a prolonged life. “The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, volition, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God’s,” states another leading commentator. Such an attitude is further illustrated in Psalm 42:1 . . . ..
As the deer pants for water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.
Conversely, when one rejects Christ, his selfishness and habitual sins result in premature aging and physical tiredness; he reaps what he sows; his sins find him out. Some of the benefits of fearing the LORD as it pertains to one’s sustained quality of life are discovered in the following. Notice that each of the following Proverbs begins with The fear of the LORD. But notice the differing benefits of that in each Proverb. The fear of the LORD leads to . . . .
1. Immediate Or Eventual Victory Over Habitual Sin
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death (14:27).
A cavalier lifestyle is a stranglehold to personal energy. Not only is one’s conscience affected, but the whole physical organism of the body! A fountain of life (an inviting metaphor for a parched, fatigued individual) is reserved for those who walk in godliness — who fear the Lord and are obedient to the owner’s manual.
2. Sleep And Safety
The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. (19:23)
Assuming all nutritional needs are satisfied (I will go into that at the end of this study), the state of the conscience affects one’s ability to rest. It is a clear conscience and good physical rest that makes for consistently good energy and continual mental determination. I know from years of competitive sports and mountaineering that Vince Lombardy’s famous quote, “fatigue makes cowards of us all” is an accurate statement. Clear-conscience, physically rested people will greatly out-produce colleagues who are lacking in the ultimate progenitor of such: the fear of the Lord.
Such also makes one untouched by evil, i.e., the recipient of a heaven-sent form of protection, illumination and drive. This stands in contrast to the less than noble who must always fend for themselves.
3. Riches and Honor
The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life. (22:4)
Again, these self-evident sublime qualities of life stem from a reverential fear of the LORD. Summarily, to possess transcendent, perpetual energy while commuting as a lifestyle, one must first fear the Lord! Like you, Danielle and I travel incessantly in our calling: birthing and growing ministries amongst Public Servants in state capitols, city and county governments, throughout our nation and the world. God gives us the energy to do this to the degree we fear Him. I know you experience the same too as you seek His resourcing in your life.
B. BY COUNSELING WITH ONE’S PARENTS
My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you (3:1-2).
The tightest context of the above instruction is that of King Solomon writing to his son during his formative years. But the truth of this Proverb must not be overlooked at any age. Notice the principle of a longer life — if one is respecting of the instruction of his father and mother (cf. 1:8). This promise is restated in the NT in Ephesians 6:1-3, wherein Paul speaks of honoring one’s parents. Again, while these passages primarily relate to the parent-child relationship, the adult legislator is nonetheless wise to remain in counseling contact with his or her folks.
The biblical idea of honoring alludes to one’s life-long attitude toward his parents. Honoring is a principle repeatedly mentioned in Proverbs in many different ways (1:8; 3:1; 4:1-4; 7:1-3; 10:1; 17:21; 19:13, 26; 28:24) and speaks to the high regard one should hold for those who brought him into this world with accompanying personal sacrifices that may have previously gone unnoticed. It is easy to overlook and forget all the great things our parents did for us that directly relate to where we are today. Proverbs 4:10-13 echoes this as Solomon speaks to Rehoboam . . . .
Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.
We must afford our parents honor. The benefits of cherishing one’s parents and their wisdom are further elaborated on in 3:8 . . . .
It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.
Contextually, this Proverb is clear, to the one who counsels with parents and lives wisely, God gives physical well-being, a higher quality of life. In direct contrast is the testimony of David, post-Bathsheba. Prior to David’s confession of his sin with her he said . . . .
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)
In a NT sense of this principle, Paul said that the reason some believers were sick or dead was due to their lack of obedience to God’s law, in that believers partook of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way. As a result, many are weak and sick among you . . . . (1Cor. 11:30). Obedience versus disobedience to God’s laws is sometimes directly related to physical life and death in both the Old and New Testaments (cf. Acts 5:9). It follows why then, that Solomon repeatedly expresses the importance of parental counsel and godly wisdom. He says in 4:21-23 . . . .
Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their body.
Notice the word health; again, there is a relationship between honoring God and honoring parents that relates to your physical well-being: spiritual health lends to physical health. There is no doubt a continual connection between them throughout Scripture.
C. BY FINDING AND GAINING UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM
The prerequisites for wisdom per the Book of Proverbs, as contextualized with the remainder of Scripture (i.e., NT revelation), are first repentance and placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Having done that, one will be submissive to Jesus’ instructors, gain knowledge, have understanding and accordingly manifest wisdom. Note Proverbs 9:10-11 in this regard . . . .
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.
Brought forward and illuminated by the light of the NT, the means by which one has multiplied days and years of life added are via first trusting in Christ for salvation. Read back into the meaning of Proverbs 3:13-18, notice the benefit for having done so . . . .
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways; And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast.
The following sidebar summarizes benefits and treasures, the overall quality of life that accrues to those who acquire salvation and resultant wisdom in Christ — even to those who commute for a living! Take note of these seven wonderful assets of acquiring and living with wisdom!
These characteristics are descriptive of the American dream. Few, however, seem to follow the biblical formula to obtain it! How about you? Especially note of these rewards, this: The Scriptures say they do not stem from His institution of government; formulaically, they accrue to the individual via personal obedience to God! This is an important distinction to make for Lawmakers: The head of state, Solomon, is not suggesting to his son, the future head of state, that entitlement programs manifest the above characteristics in the life of a nation’s citizens. Rather, as Solomon personifies personal wisdom in Proverbs 8:35-36, he makes the following repetitious point . . . .
For he who finds me [wisdom] finds life and obtains favor from the LORD. But he who sins against me [wisdom] injures himself; all those who hate me love death.
It is the pursuit of wisdom that leads to a high-quality life no matter your outward circumstances. What did Solomon ask of God in 1Kings 3:6-14? Not for a change in circumstances — rather for wisdom! The pursuit of wisdom must be above all else! In reward and grace, God over-abundantly blessed Solomon with all of the aforementioned as recorded in the sidebar! He will do the same in some portion for you too, if you first seek His wisdom (Cf. Matthew 6:33).
Whereas Solomon personified wisdom in the aforementioned passage, in what follows, Proverbs 19:16, he summarily refers to it as the commandment . . . .
He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of conduct will die.
In essence Proverbs is, and contains, the application and implication of all of God’s moral law: The book is a summary judgment, a capsulation for finding favor and blessing with and from God. It follows that one should study Proverbs every day.
Now, in further studying the relationship of wisdom to the quality of life, notice what Proverbs 3:22 states . . . .
So they [wisdom] will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck.
Wisdom adorns the life of the one who possesses it. Others will judge one’s personage and demeanor as beautiful, depicted here allegorically (def. “symbolic representation”) by its manifestation, existing so to speak, on your neck. The honorable will honor you for your pursuit of wisdom, and your life will be wreathed with beauty; draped as it were with the attributes of God.
D. BY ACCEPTING DISCIPLINE
The fourth of nine proverbial ingredients necessary to avoid derailing in DC is to accept discipline. Note the following three Proverbs in this regard . . . .
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life. (6:23)
He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray. (10:17)
Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes he way; He who hates reproof will die. (15:10)
The grand NT passage on God’s discipline of His children is found in Hebrews 12:5-11; there is much value in meditating on this. Therein is the connection between discipline and the overall quality of one’s life. Hebrews 12:11 states that discipline yields the “peaceful fruit of righteousness,” which is an indisputable major component of the quality of one’s life.
Even though your life is hectic, overbooked, tiring, and full of endless, extremely important battles that relate to the future of our country, do you continue to possess the peace of mind, energy and stamina for the ongoing battle? Being open to and welcoming legitimate discipline yields inner strength, so as to be able to hang in there over the long run. How many years did Wilberforce fight to overturn slavery in England? The Lord was his strength and he learned and grew from his mistakes along the way.
E. BY PURSUING RIGHTEOUSNESS
Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death. (10:2)
The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. (10:16)
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who watches his way preserves his life. (16:17)
The picture of a highway is a depiction expressing the habitual course of the upright. When one strays from his or her “groove” he is less apt to preserve his present quality of life. The propensity to sin often occurs when a person gets out of his habits of industriousness. Good routines demand attention and concentration. In contrast, too much playtime is not a good thing. (cf. Gen. 3:17-19; comp. 2Samuel 11:2). Proverbs 12:28 and Hebrews 12:13 state respectively . . . .
In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death. And make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint . . . .
Set your moral GPS unit to track in the direction of righteousness. Summarily:
He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor. (21:21)
In the NT Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in the beatitudes (Mt. 5:6) . . . .
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Hungering and thirsting is the equivalent of pursuing. Further, notice both the construction of Proverbs 21:21 (above) and Matthew 5:6. Satisfaction in life is not borne from the pursuit of satisfaction. Rather, it is a consequence, or a by-product from the pursuit of another object of affection: righteousness. What God is saying to you here is this: If you do what is right while in office, He will give you satisfaction and energy while in office! Summarily, doing wrong will tire you out, while doing right will inure to you God’s strength and invigoration! Beloved, your quality of life has much more to do with the choices you make than the miles you travel.
F. BY EVANGELIZING THE LOST
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls. (11:30)
The metaphoric phrase tree of life as it recurs in usage throughout Psalms and Proverbs refers to temporal spiritual nourishment, healing and refreshment (see the Bridges quote in the opening section). A righteous person becomes a giver of life to others, and when you serve to upgrade another’s quality of life, your life is equally blessed. When the righteous evangelize, they help sinners in the ultimate sense of their real need — delivering them from Hell to Heaven, facilitating in essence their gestation of the empowering Holy Spirit. What could be a greater gift to give to a fellow Member of the House or Senate or your family? 1Cor. 9:22 further unfolds this truth. Paul states regarding his own ministry methodology . . .
. . . . I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
A wise believer need relate to and pursue all biblically based means in attempting to bring others to Christ. Winning souls serves to manifest the fruit of righteousness in another’s life! Evangelizing the lost will invigorate and stimulate a higher quality of life like nothing else this side of heaven in both the life of the recipient and yours! There is nothing more energizing to your well being than to lead another to Christ!
G. BY CHECKING ONE’S SPEECH
The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (13:3)
A person who is given to careful wording avoids much violence that will otherwise be aimed back at them. States James in his NT book (3:8 & 1:19 resp.) . . . .
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison . . . . [therefore] . . . . Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
Cultivate the habit of being a person of few words (cf. Eccl. 5:2). Proverbs 10:8 underscores . . . .
. . . . A babbling fool will be ruined.
A sage of the past has said that God designed man with two ears and one mouth, suggesting one listen twice as much as they talk. Amen. Memorize Proverbs 18:21 . . . .
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Secondly, one must be careful with email, a relatively new manifestation of one’s mouth. Given the increases in hacking and privacy violations in our country, there are those who will exploit your tongue in whatever ways they can. I have had this done to me in the past where people pass along emails that you intended only for their eyes. What high-profile person these days hasn’t had emails stolen and used out of context — and assigned motives — all in attempts to discredit? Such careful practices will serve to safeguard and preserve your present quality of life.
Lastly on the matter of one’s mouth, everyone in the Capitol is sophisticated enough to know what I am about to say. Tone and body language often speak louder than words. Proverbs 15:4 says . . . .
A soothing gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.
From the heart, put a smile on your face whenever talking, especially on camera. What one says and how one says it can either preserve or ruin the quality of one’s life rather quickly.
H. BY FORMING REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENTS
The fury of a king is like messengers of death, But a wise man will appease it. (16:14)
The vast power of ancient (and present) despotic Eastern Kings is here in view; life and death lie in the caprice of the sovereign ruler. His will is law; and the executioner performs his warrant without delay or trial. It is common wisdom, states Solomon, to attempt to appease or pacify such tyrannical fury. States Proverbs 20:2 with the same kind of governmental system in view . . . .
The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; He who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life.
Thank God for our American Republic, our Representative Democracy, where there exists justice for all in a judicial system separated from the executive branch.
The aforementioned Proverbs underscore why it is noble for all of America’s political leaders to pursue the development of Representative Democracies throughout the world. (You may remember that Churchill quipped in this regard, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others.” Such missions by our country to remove tyrannical, despotic, autocratic and aristocratic leaders and replace them with Republics can be justifiably extrapolated from these passages. Such national quests afford millions of people in those respective countries a higher quality of life than they might have at present; non-dictatorial governments represent the best path to appeasement, which herein is said to be a wise pursuit. Such actions as well potentially open a country to missionaries who more so, with a just playing field, can faithfully spread the Gospel. Forming good governments is a very basic path of life that leads upwards, in this case not so much for the reader, but for those in other countries.
F. BY DISCIPLINING YOUR CHILDREN
Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death. (19:18)
Proverbs 13:24 gives further clarification to disciplining a child . . . .
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
Bad parenting will reduce the quality of both the child’s and the parents’ lives. It is easy to spoil or create a rebellious child, if not both. In contrast, disciplining a child demands hard, consistent work. Proverbs is replete with the biblical formula for raising children. It not only involves corporal punishment (physical spanking, specifically and only when rebellion is present) (cf. 10:13; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13, 14; 29:15, 17) but huge and frequent doses of love and kindness.
Discipline is necessary in parenting due to the latent Adamic sin nature, which is guaranteed upon delivery (cf. 1Cor. 15:22). This corporal discipline must have the right motivation (Heb. 12:5-11) and the appropriate severity (Eph. 6:4). Again, keep in mind, the more lessons a child learns at home, the better his quality of life will be — and yours also.
What an incredible joyful time we have with our three grown children. Because Danielle did such a great job with them they are absolutely no problem to us, all being married and prospering in the love of Christ.
Your quality of life, your level of energy, has more to do with your spiritual life than your presenting physical circumstances. Your quality of life is not so much determined by attempting to lessen amount of battles on the Hill, or the amount of traveling you must engage in to be a player in DC. Rather, quality and energy have much more to do with personal holiness and the pursuit of God and His principles — many of those listed in this study. If you will commit to developing your spiritual life and abide by His principles you’ll have more energy and a higher quality of life that you can possibly imagine! You will receive power from on High (cf. Acts 1:8)!
Having underscored the spiritual side of the quality of life, it is also important to be a good steward of your body, which Scripture calls the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19). Here are a few things that Danielle and I do to take care of our temples. The following tips might prove helpful to you . . . .
May God give you a consistent, great quality of life and energy for His service in the difficult task to which He has assigned you!