Proverbs – Week 33 Study Guide

By September 20, 2020Small Group Study Guide

 WISE LIVING FROM PROVERBS

Wise Decisions: The Wise see Criticism as a gift of love

OPENER:

Q1: How do you respond when criticized? Is it different when it’s a trusted friend or a spouse?

Q2: Do you often conflate (combine) criticism of our ideas, attitudes and actions, with an attack on who we are as a person? Why do you think you do this? Do you like how you respond?

Q3: In his opening, Terry spoke about our habits and the role of training and practice (think of the well-practiced “bad” pianist). Do you remember what role criticism played in teaching? What would it look like in your own life to reframe criticism?

Answer: teaching is criticism. WE need to reframe what “criticism” is. We need to not see it as an attack on us personally, but as a tool to help us get better.

OBJECTIVE: Today, we will discuss our attitudes and actions towards criticisms and how the right approach can help us grow and thrive. Often all critique is perceived as something “bad,” a personal attack, but we can’t view it this way. We must learn the importance of listening to others and learning to thrive in critique to grow in wisdom.

DISCUSSION 1:

Wisdom’s teaching method is to critique our ideas, attitudes, and actions. We don’t naturally love to be corrected, but we can grow in wisdom and in corresponding love for what it takes to become wise like correction.

Read Proverbs 9:7-6 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

Q1: in the proverbs above, what are the distinctions between the mocker and the wise?

Q2: What is the benefit to the wise? How do we see critique happening in this passage?

APPLICATION:

Five applications for learning to love criticism

1 – White Wall/Black Wall: Trust your friends when you need them the most.
Idea is this: If I am convinced the wall is white and my trusted friends say it is black…will I trust myself or them?

Q1: Why can the concept of White Wall/Black Wall Be difficult for us?
Answer: When we really need to hear correction—critique of our beliefs, attitudes, or choices—we often don’t want to hear it. When we are emotionally connected to a decision, to believe, feel or do something, our emotions, our desires, make can make us unwilling to hear important correction.
Share: Anyone have a personal example of how you have benefited or even rejected this concept?

2 – Fight, Flight, Freeze: We are more than our chemicals.
Fight is an active defense response where you physical fight or flee from a perceived danger. Freeze is fight or flight on hold…you prepare to protect yourself, ready yourself for your next move. Fight, freeze is not a conscious decision…we cannot control it in that moment.

Q1: What role does training play in Fight / Flight / Freeze?
Answer: We condition ourselves through experience to fear what we perceive of as a threat…it’s how God made our bodies. When we have trained ourselves rightly or wrongly to perceive of a certain thing as a threat…when faced with that thing…our brain thinks we are in danger and triggers a physical response.

3 – Don’t be a jerk about this.

If you love to give criticism…please don’t. If you love people…and people love you…they are more likely to hear your critique as love. If you do love people…don’t hold back from offering criticism out of self-protection or fear of “hurting someone’s feelings.”

Q1: How do we keep from being a Jerk?

Answer: Jesus offers some humorous and memorable advice in his famous sermon. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5. This was intended to bring a chuckle…then “wait a minute…is he is talking about me?” Form a mental image…of a person with a two-by-four protruding from his eye…bending over trying to remove a speck of dust from a friends eye. “No, that’s not gonna work.” So, the idea here…the wise, loving, self-aware person…the person who realizes they are not perfect, the person who knows they have their own mess…Is best positioned to offer help to others that will be received as help not judgment.

4 – Build Trust “left of the bang”
The point is…when you have a big decision it is too late to build long-term trust if you have not already done so. You can ask for advice…but if they don’t have a track record with you…it’s just not going to be the same…they won’t know you enough about you to offer the best counsel possible.

Q1: Time and intentionality—Why are these fundamental to this concept?
Answer:
We are busy or we are introverted or we are self-protective or proud…or we are all four. So, we have to “mean to do this”… “We have to mean for it to happen”…or it won’t just happen. “I’ve been around for years and don’t have close friends.” Time without intention is not enough…you have to decide to show up and keep deciding to show up and engage over time. “It ought to be easier to connect deeply…this is church.” No…it really shouldn’t be easier…it’s too important, too powerful…to ever be easy. It is possible and not beyond the reach of anyone willing to be intentional over time.

5 – Small groups are opportunities to connect with people in community…to know and be known

Q1: How are small groups designed and what is there purpose?

Answer: they are focused on

-information

-Application

– In community…with the goal of transformation

Out of small groups come opportunities for one-to-one mentoring and other kinds of “give and take” relationships. But we are after change…transformation. So, without application in community…the information won’t change your life in positive ways.

Scripture passages used in sermon:

Proverbs 9:7-9 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:6 Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

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