In chapter 10, the ‘preacher’ returns to the proverbs style of writing again. (I love proverbs.)
Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
In the last sentence of the last chapter it says, “one sinner destroys much good” and here he makes the same statement a different way, ” dead flies make the perfume stink.” Then again, “a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” The preacher is saying that little hinges move big doors! The little things matter! The tiniest of thoughts. The smallest of deeds. These little things make big impacts. Don’t despise the small beginnings, they matter more than you know. Small things have big consequences. Sometimes in our foolishness we dismiss this truth and we move forward in life thinking that those small moments of sin, doubt, fear, or anger don’t matter that much. But the truth is it is often the smallest of things that can keep us from walking in wisdom just by simply forgetting that small things make big impacts. A pebble thrown into the water makes ripples that continue out further than we would expect, so too do the little things, for good or folly.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.
I don’t know to many examples of someone who is able to be calm while another is losing their crap on them. The ability to remain calm, to be still, can and will serves us well in hard and even hurtful situations if we develop it. Sometimes, at no fault of our own, we may just be on the butt end of a bad situation and that pile of poop is something we get to deal with. Someone I admire use to call it, “eating a poop sandwich.” It’s not fun. It’s not fair. Yet, it is something you end up dealing with simply because of the position you are in. These are the moments that can make or break you. If you are able to walk through a situation where you are wrongly accused without leaving your post, calmness and even a turnaround can happen, where an enemy becomes a friend. This kind of grace and humility is rare.
Ok, story time, I find it interesting that some of the best advice I received from those who have mentored me in some way in my life deal with the subject of handling the poopy moments of life:
- If you step in a pile of poop, do you wash your foot or shoot the cow? The obvious is to wash your foot but when a person is easily angered, with little self-control, they may make a quick leap of rash behavior that kills the cow. Life is messy. It doesn’t come at us in perfect manner. People are messy. They don’t come perfect either. When those two thing collide we end up with messy situations and how we react to them can be the difference between washing the situation in grace or killing the relationship.
- In leadership, there will be times when you will just have to eat a poop sandwich! Someone else made the mess. Someone else left it for you to deal with. Some things just fall on the shoulders of the one who is leading. It’s yours to deal with. You don’t get to pass the buck. Responsibility and accountability belong to you.
Ecclesiastes 10:18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.
Laziness will bring the whole thing down to nothing. Indifference to what is actually happening will cause your life to leak. I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews 12: 12-13 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. No matter what it is that we are dealing with life, love, business, church, relationships if we take the lazy way about any of it, it will come to nothing. We either strengthen our way and heal or we fall apart. You can not live life un-maintenanced. If you don’t take care of the leak the roof will cave in. If you don’t care for and nurture your relationship with your spouse, you’re marriage will fall apart. If you are not active in building and growing your business, it will fade away. If you don’t cultivate your spiritual life with God, you will slip back into life under the sun without a view of eternity in mind. In this life, moth and rust come to take what you have and if you don’t become an active participant in your life, at the end of life, there will be nothing but faded memories of when you did care about how you lived this side of heaven.