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Summary: Allow me to shed some light on three arenas; authority, agony and academics.

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LEADERS, LOSERS AND LEARNERS

ECCLESIASTES 8:1-17

Introduction: In chapter 8 Solomon continues his theme on wisdom. Allow me to shed some light on three arenas: authority, agony and academics. Let me put it this way.

I. The Traits of Wise Leaders (v. 1-9)

These verses are for all who are in leadership positions. Everyone of us is affected by

authority. We’re either under authority or in a position of authority. Here is good advice for every CEO, supervisor, manager or foreman. But I want to use these verses to speak to those in positions of spiritual leadership. Underscore these words.

A. Explanation (v. 1) – The leader should be able to see the big picture. It means to have a solution; to explain the difficult. He or she needs to know the “why” of an organization (Swindoll). They may not know all the “hows” but they need to know the “why.” Mind your mind! Let your mind grow!

B. Illumination (v. 1) – Note the words “brightens,” “face,” and “hard.” The word hard means stern, fierce, stiff, tough, unsmiling and negative. Leaders need wisdom that will beam them up! In other words, have a cheerful disposition. Not only “mind your mind,” but “fix your face.” Let your mind grow and let your face grow. The devil shouldn’t have all the laughter and fun. Laughter is vital to a balanced life and ministry.

C. Communication (v. 2-4) – Note the use of “command” and “word.” Mind your mind. Fix your face. “Tame your tongue.” Let your mind grow, your face glow and your words “flow” – carefully, of course. What comes out of your mouth sets the tone and direction for your followers. “If you want to manage conflict then master communication” (John Maxwell). Be tactful and diplomatic.

D. Discrimination (v. 5-7) – I don’t mean this in a bad way. The point is God has put you where you are so use good judgment. Know the proper time to do what ought to be done. Be calm and stead when trouble abounds. “Judge your judgment.” Let your wisdom “show.”

E. Limitation (v. 8) – Learn your limitations. When it comes to this issue just “know.” None can harness the wind or defy death. We are finite. This should produce a humble, teachable spirit. The point here, also, is that I cannot change someone else’s spirit. There are some who try. They use and abuse and wind up losing.

But what if my boss/parent/authority asks me to do something unethical or downright

evil? Warren Wiersbe in his book Be Satisfied, has a good approach to this passage. He notes four possible responses. 1. Disobedience (v. 2, 4, 5); 2. Desertion (v. 30); 3.

Defiance (3b); 4. Discernment (v. 5b-6). Wisdom will help figure out the right thing at the right time.

Now listen, we need to be wise leaders who manifest these traits. Why? Because of this second idea (as follows).

II. The Tragedy of Wicked Losers (10-14)

We need wise leaders who bear the traits mentioned about in order to help others find

the meaning of life. If they don’t find the real meaning of life they will wind up like the character in this text. Note:

A. His Funeral Is Outrageous (v. 10) – What good is it if you have an impressive, stately funeral and your soul is in hell?

B. His Folly Is Contagious (v. 11) – He continued his ways because he thought he could get by with it. Do we ever stop to think that what we are or are not doing could be rubbing off on someone else? “He had an affair and he seems to be happy. She has stolen and lied and she seems to be getting along quite well.” Judgment may not happen immediately, but it will happen! Nobody escapes!

C. His Finale Is Ungracious (v. 12-14) – How can it be that the Mafia prospers while the missionary is in pain? Why is it that the gangs, hoodlums and thugs run rampant while the godly are oppressed? In act there’s a lot of injustice in life. F. Lee Baily said, “In America, acquittal doesn’t mean you’re innocent; it means you beat the rap.” Nobody beats the rap with God. Here’s a person who goes into eternity untouched by the grace of God.

Look with me at one more idea.

III. The Turmoil of Wary Learners (v. 15-17)

There are some who rack their brains trying to figure out all the injustices and

mysteries of life. Please note three important words.

A. Spend (v. 16) – These people spend day and night trying to solve the unsolvable and answer the unanswerable.

B. Comprehend (v. 17) – Nobody can comprehend God and his plans to any degree of fullness. “God is partly concealed and partly revealed” (Wiersbe). Shoot, we can’t even catch “big foot” let along figure out God. Some preachers think they have him figured out! Benny says, “I can have a miracle.” Rod says, “I’m just one dollar away from a breakthrough.” If you make a mess of your life (and who among us hasn’t?), go see those guys. I’m sorry, but I’m not a miracle worker. I’m not God. I don’t understand very much about him. I can’t change your situation.

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