This proverb describes how to persuade “a ruler.” In modern leadership parlay, this principle is called, “leading up.” Some may think it impossible to lead a boss or supervisor. Yet, Solomon taught how to do just that.
Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs to give his son wisdom on how to live. It is filled with practical instruction. In this proverb, he taught the importance of “forbearance” and “gentleness” when it comes to leading those who have authority over us. “Forbearance” is the art of patient, self-restraint in offering advice. Solomon called this “long forbearance,” because it takes patience to gain influence as an advisor to your boss. “Gentleness” is the second attribute that Solomon prescribed. It is the art of making sure your supervisor feels no challenge, nor rebellion in you. Being gentle in your feedback, your influence grows as the leader’s trust in you grows.
True leadership is more about influence than position. You don’t have to have a title to have influence. You only need wisdom like Solomon’s, which is ours in Christ Jesus. And He would have us use this influence, in forbearance and gentleness, to lead others to hear the gospel and follow Him.
As the apostle Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). When we share the gospel, we lead up, not down.