Wisdom Principles
Daily Wisdom Discoveries

"He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap" (Quoheleth, Ecc. 11:4).
The third principle from this eleventh chapter in Ecclesiastes speaks to our propensity to worry about negative things that may happen, and how we use these potentially negative things as reasons for not doing today what should be done in order to provide something for the future.  If one “observes the wind” and “regards the clouds” there will be plenty of reasons not to sow and reap.  In other words, there will always be potentially negative things that can be pointed at to keep us from investing today.  But being guided by the negative things that could possibly happen, keeps us from investing today, and thus will keep us from producing a return on what we have today to invest.

"Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth" (Quoheleth, Ecc. 11:1-2).

This ancient saying directly addresses the very important concept of diversification, “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth."  Here the principle emphasizes dividing your investable resources among a variety of investment choices to reduce the risk of losing all your investable resources in one investment that has gone bad. This ancient wisdom is parallel with the modern-day saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," for if you do, and that basket drops, all the eggs may be lost.  It is wiser to invest in several different “baskets,” or several different “ships” set on trading expeditions to foreign lands.  For if one basket falls, or one ship goes down, the others may make up for the loss and still make the overall investment strategy worthwhile.

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Quoheleth, Ecc. 11:1).

Today's ancient wisdom quote is extraordinary. It addresses investing in the language of three thousand years ago, when investing was often done by committing resources to a shipping expedition where trade would be carried out in a foreign land. They would "cast their bread upon the waters," in hope of having it return to them at a future time, and having increased in value.  The principle emphasized in "casting bread upon the waters" is that an investor should take an appropriate risk with the hope of receiving a corresponding appropriate reward in the future. 
Today we normally don’t send our money overseas on trading expeditions.  Instead, there are other ways to invest, but the concept is still the same.  We take present resources and invest it with the expectation of an increase, at some time in the future.

Tools: "It is on their productivity, above all, that the future prosperity and indeed the future survival of the developed economies will increasingly depend" (Peter Drucker, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, pg. 141).

The use of tools is a characteristic of more developed species, as well as a thriving human culture.  Tools positively impact productivity and the standard of living in a culture in a profound way. And using the best means to achieve the best ends, is at the heart of wisdom.  Tools allow the individual worker to do things that would be impossible to do without the tool. From the hammer to the most advanced logging tools and sophisticated aircraft, tools are the means to make peoples' lives better.   And as stated in a previous wisdom saying, making peoples' lives better should be the goal of every organization, from the corporation to the government to the church.  It is often the chosen tools used to make clients lives better that differentiates one organization from another, even within the same industry.


At our company we use several key tools to help us serve our clients with excellence, and that enables us to provide an exceptional service experience.  We earnestly strive to make our clients' lives better, and seek to utilize the best tools in the industry to bring this about.

"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" (King Solomon, Pr. 15:22).

When making plans, how should we go about it?  The quote today emphasizes the importance of getting good counsel from others.  It is extremely arrogant to think that our own thinking is the best wisdom for making plans. Another passage from the Bible tells us that pride comes before a fall. So, acknowledging that we are in need of wisdom from outside of ourselves is the first step to successful planning. Whether talking about how we plan to get to Heaven, or how we plan to provide for ourselves and loved ones during retirement, plans are established through wise counsel from outside of ourselves. At the investment firm I work at, we seek to apply biblical investing and wisdom principles to our clients' lives to help them financially plan for the future.

"Organized abandonment means to abandon yesterday. This frees-up resources from being committed to maintaining what no longer contributes to performance, and no longer produces results" (Peter F. Drucker, "Management Challenges for the 21st Century,"  page 74).

Peter Drucker is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice.  Until his death in 2005, he was also one of the most revered and sought after speaker-educators on business management. 


Today's observation addresses our propensity to stay with something just because it is what we have done in the past, even though it no longer contributes to good performance, and no longer produces the results we desire.  It is a great temptation to continue with a losing investment, until it gets back to what you originally paid for it; but, in the meantime, you may be missing out on other opportunities that may provide superior returns. When it comes to the allocation of resources, the eye must be set upon the future, and abandon the past. The most important job of the chief executive officer of a company, or an investor with their own money, is the allocation of capital. In other words, where are you going to allocate your resources?  And this question needs to be asked on a regular basis, because things change quickly in this fast moving world, and what contributed to good performance in the past may not do so in the future. Buggy whip manufacturers, to modern day pager makers, needed to abandon yesterday or cease to exist.

"Servant leadership uses an inverted organizational chart for implementation.  Those who serve the clients are at the top of the organizational chart and are responsible, while those in leadership positions are to be responsive in helping those who serve the clients" (Ken Blanchard and Bill Hybels, Leadership by the Book).

Today's observation points out an important element of leadership for those leaders responsible for supervising the people serving at the client level. The leaders need to provide everything necessary for those they supervise to serve the client/customer with excellence. It is those who directly interact with the clients who are in the best position to know what is needed to provide an excellent service experience. The leaders in the organization should talk with those they supervise, and listen to the successes and failures in the service experience, and decide upon ways to increase the successful service experiences, and to eliminate the failed service experiences, utilizing all available resources at their disposal.  While this style of leadership is necessary for those supervising at the client level, the non-inverted organizational chart is still necessary when talking about the authority structure within the organization, as well as deciding upon the mission, vision, goals, and objectives for the organization as a whole.

"Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it" (King Solomon, Pr. 13:11).

A retirement plan that makes it necessary to win the lottery, or to score big on some other risky venture, is a bad retirement plan. Instead, wisdom is seen in the one who over a long period of time gathers little by little. We see this wisdom manifested in the modern day concept of "dollar cost averaging."  Dollar cost averaging is the technique of buying a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment on a regular schedule, regardless of the price.  This kind of systematic plan causes more shares of the investment to be purchased when prices are falling, and fewer shares when they are rising. And while dollar cost averaging will not work with investments that continually drop in value, or ones that eventually go to zero, Benjamin Graham, the author of "The Intelligent Investor," stated the he knew of no other system of investing that provided for as much confidence of ultimate success as dollar cost averaging.  In other words, as the ancient proverb declares, "gathering little by little will increase it," and is a very wise way to save for the future.

"The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor" (Solomon, Pr. 12:24).

It is hard to overemphasize the role of diligence in wisdom.  The principle that we derive from today's saying again shows the differing outcomes between the hand of the diligent and the hand of the slothful. The one with a diligent hand will rule, and the slothful hand will be put to forced labor. At issue is freedom verses slavery. It is ironic that the slothful person thinks that he is getting away easy by not having to work diligently, when in actuality their lack of work today, ends in slavery and even more work in the future. We have all experienced this at some point in our lives. By neglecting what we ought to do diligently today, resulted in a much bigger and costly thing to deal with in the future. If you put off mowing your lawn for several weeks during the peak growing season, you end up with a much more difficult job when you are finally forced to deal with the problem.

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight" (Solomon, Pr. 11:1). 

King Solomon has been widely recognized as one of the wisest men that has ever lived. He was given such great wisdom from God that people came from all over the inhabited world, around three thousand years ago, to see Solomon and his kingdom, ask him questions, and test his wisdom. 

In today's quote, Solomon is testifying to the fact that God hates deception and corruption, but loves justice and fairness. A false balance in ancient times would be used by unscrupulous merchants. Their "balance,"which equates with our modern day "scale" that we use to measure weight, was rigged to benefit the corrupt merchant. In the same way, the balance used in government and in the court system can be corrupt, and fail to weigh out justice appropriately.  We have often see this throughout history, as well as today, where the wealthy and powerful "rig" the outcome through the influence of their money and position (think upon the O.J. Simpson trial). 

The fact that I don't want you to miss is this, God delights in a just weight!  It delights God when there are honest and just business dealings and court decisions. The business person has a wonderful opportunity everyday to do that which God delights in. Whether a person is a manager of a business, or a pastor of a church, both have an opportunity to be daily involved in that which delights the one who made us, and who designed how the world ought to work. 

"A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame" (King Solomon, Pr. 10:4-5).

Wisdom literature throughout the ages has at least one common theme; that is, diligence is essential to wise living!  Wise people in every age and in every culture have found creative ways to make the point that diligence is to be valued and held in high regard, while the one that neglects diligence is destined for destitution and shame.  

In today's quote, the slack hand is contrasted with the hand of the diligent. Hebrew wisdom literature and poetry were not written to rhyme, but rather as different kinds of parallelism.  Today's quote is designed as a contrasting parallelism  between the slack hand of the son that sleeps when there is timely work to be done, and the diligent hand of the son who does the work in a timely way. Note the two contrasting outcomes; poverty and shame for the sleeping son with a slack hand, and riches (and implicitly honor) for the diligent son that worked in a timely way. 

"Look at everyone with love in your heart" (Og Mandino, "The Greatest Salesman in the World").

I have heard love defined as the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others. I appreciate this definition because it applies to business, as much as it does in the church, or in our own families. Og Mandino understood that love meets a need that someone has, and at the heart of the greatest salesperson is the desire to meet the other person's need with the resources that he or she has been given. This gets at the heart of love.  

Salespeople are often given a bad name and looked down upon as those who are looking to take advantage of another person, solely for the motive of making money. But this view of salespeople, while unfortunately often true, fails to consider that the best salespeople truly seek to meet the needs of the ones to whom they sell their goods or services. Almost nothing in our economy happens until there is a sale, and the best salespeople seek to understand other peoples needs and desires, and then they seek to apply all of their available resources to helping meet those needs and desires in a way that truly benefits the people they serve. At the company I work for, we recognize that our job is to make our client's lives better!  And while this sounds idealistic, it should actually be the goal of every business and organization in the world, whether it be a financial advisory firm, a local government, a retail outlet, a manufacturer, or a church. Desiring to make other people's lives better with the resources provided to us is getting at the heart of practical love.  What a change it would make in our world if we all looked at everyone at all times with love in our heart. 

"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (the apostle Paul, 1 Tim. 5:8). 

The apostle Paul makes it very clear that providing for relatives, and especially for one's own household, is of great value.  While wealth goes beyond merely material possessions, it certainly includes resources that have been given to us or earned by us to help others who are in need, especially when that includes members of our own household or our close relatives. 

When someone provides for his family and relatives, he or she is being used by God to be God's representative in the world. God uses means, and being a provider for one's family and relatives is the designed means God uses to care for His world.  What a noble calling, one that should be held in high esteem in the culture, and especially in the church!

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David O. McMillin is a Registered Representatives offering securities through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. (APFS), Member: FINRA, SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through American Portfolios Advisors (APA), a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Hopper-McMillin is not affiliated with APFS or APA. Neither Hopper-McMillin, APA, nor APFS provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

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