Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

by Greg Koukl

Sometimes you will encounter a daunting foe who is, in some way, your superior—a feared professor, a respected elder family member, an articulate supervisor or executive at work.

When this happens there is a temptation—especially if you’ve had some training or done some study in apologetics—to “show what you know,” to step into the fray armed with all your facts and take your superior down a peg or two.

In situations like that, it’s a good idea to consider Solomon’s counsel from Proverbs 25:6-7:

Do not claim honor in the presence of the king,And do not stand in the place of great men;For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,”Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of a prince….

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Solomon’s point is simple: In the company of superiors, don’t start high, positioning yourself as their equal. You might get knocked down. Instead, start low and move up. Earn your place at the head of the table by the quality of your contribution.

Years ago, I witnessed a powerful example of this wisdom at a conference called “Design and Its Critics.” I’d wrangled a seat in the audience of a professional gathering where Intelligent Design proponents had invited their strongest detractors—secular scientists and philosophers—to engage them through a point/counterpoint format of aggressive, academic peer review.

During the Q & A after a presentation by ID leader Stephen Meyer, Dr. Clifford Matthews, a senior member of the evolutionary scientific establishment, laid into him, vigorously and (in my view) uncharitably attacking his ideas.

I was stunned. Glancing around me I wondered what would happen next…

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