Proverbs 20

This chapter has wisdom concerning dealing with situations at work.

1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.

If you want to be hugely successful at work, you must not let yourself get addicted to alcohol, smoking, drugs and sex.

If you allow yourself to be intoxicated by alcohol you are not wise.

Now some people might ask, "What if we just drink a little, and not get intoxicated? Is that okay?"

That is like standing at the edge of a cliff and saying, "Let me see how close can I go and not fall."

The thing is this: no one knows their affinity to alcohol. Some never get addicted. Some do. For all who do, they find out too late. By the time they find out, the trap is sprung, and they are stuck. They spend the rest of their life dealing with a problem that they could have easily avoided. How happy they would have been if they had never touched alcohol in the first place.

Drugs and tobacco are also like alcohol. Stay away from them too.

Sexual escapades at work rarely end well. Stay away from them. I’ve seen many powerful men destroyed because an affair at work bit them in the butt, and caused them far more damage than they ever imagined.

2 The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; he who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life.

Understand the power of the authority over you, and respect it. Also understand your own power. Don’t tempt fate by unnecessarily provoking power that you are no match for.

There may be times when you need to rise up against a stronger power. Those are times when God has asked you to. In that case, you are fine, because the power of God is mightier than any other power, and if God is backing you then you will win. Just make sure that God has spoken to you, like He spoke to Moses, and has agreed to back you.

At work, don’t unnecessarily fight or contradict your boss. Speak to him with the greatest respect, and never contradict or put him down in public – unless you are absolutely sure that you have a direct command from God to do so.

3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.

As you go about doing stuff, you will find that the people around you don’t quite do things the way you do it, or the way you want it done. Is it worth getting into an argument about how things should be done? Usually not. Choose your battles, and let them be few in number.

At work, your co-workers are bound to do things that will upset you. Some will try to steal your accomplishments; some will speak evil about you behind your back; some will put you down in public; some will try to prevent you from rising. Don’t fight with them, but let God take revenge for you. You try to be helpful to all, and bless all, even when your own mind tells you not to do so.

Try to overlook the faults of your co-workers, and focus on their strengths. If you are called to assess them as part of your job, be fair and generous.

4 The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

If you are lazy or slow, you will not make use of opportunities as they whiz past you. Be quick and nimble. Otherwise, you will have little, and there will be only you to blame.

At work, always do a high-quality job. Ask God to bless the work of your hands.

5 A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.

6 Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?

Learn to find out what’s on other people’s mind. Sometimes, people appear to be on your side, but aren’t.

At work, be careful, and don’t trust anyone. If you say something to someone, they might use it against you one day. Guard your mouth and your actions.

7 A righteous man who walks in his integrity - how blessed are his sons after him.

If you do what is right and mean what you say, your children will have an advantage because they have access to a good example.

At work, always do what’s right. Don’t participate in what is wrong.

8 A king who sits on the throne of justice disperses all evil with his eyes.

When a good man is in charge, he can stop people from doing wrong just by letting them know that he is watching them.

If you have some authority at work, let it be known that you are a person who will not do what is wrong, and not approve of anyone within your authority who does what is wrong.

9 Who can say, "I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin"?

Perfection is not that easily attainable. Don’t pretend to be perfect. Nobody will be fooled by that.

At work, you will be tempted to find fault with other people, and complain about them to the boss. Before you do that, realize that once they find out that you complained about them, they will also begin complaining about you. You may think that you do everything perfectly, but be sure that they will be able to find fault with you. So go easy on your co-workers.

10 Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the LORD.

Don’t cheat your fellowman in any way. If you do, God will be very disappointed in you.

At work, don’t cheat your suppliers or customers or co-workers. Give credit to those to whom it is due.

11 It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right.

If you want to stand out, do a great job, and do it in a way that doesn’t short change anyone.

12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made both of them.

At work, you will come across people who are deficient. Some don’t hear or see or speak well – literally and figuratively. Some are short. Some are fat. Some are ugly. Some are quirky. Some don’t share your religious or political values. Look past all that, and deal with them solely on how well them perform at their job, and even then, grant them a lot of latitude. Only if you have authority over them can you assess how well they do at their job.

13 Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food.

Don’t sleep more than necessary.

At work, put in the hours you are expected to put in. While you are at work, don’t waste an inordinate amount of time doing personal things. Always try to work at least as many hours as you are expected to.

14 "Bad, bad," says the buyer, but when he goes his way, then he boasts.

Some people pretend that what you have is not valuable to them so that they can buy it cheaply. Don’t be fooled by superficial behavior.

At work, negotiation skills are important. If people try to devalue your accomplishments, learn how to present their value well.

Further, people will try and dump stuff on you, to the point of being unreasonable. You have to learn how to tactfully decline to take more than what is fair.

15 There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; but the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing.

The ability to speak sensibly is extremely valuable; make that ability yours.

At work, be gracious in your speech to others. Don’t unnecessarily give offense to anyone. I say ‘unnecessarily’ because sometimes (and this is rare) you may have to offend someone for the greater good.

16 Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger; and for foreigners, hold him in pledge.

People who support people who can’t pay off are soon going to be in trouble. If they owe you anything, get it quickly, or you may never get it at all.

At work, don’t do the job that others dump on you out of laziness. Don’t take someone else’s burden unless there is a good reason to do so.

17 Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.

If you’ve cheated someone of something, you will pay for it dearly.

At work, don’t take accomplishments that really belong to others. People will not stand by and let you do that.

18 Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance.

When you set out to do something, ask experienced people for advice, and consider what others say.

At work, consult with your management and your peers and your team before you dive into something.

19 He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.

A gossip is someone who tells you bad things about others, not all of which may be true. Stay away from such people.

At work, don’t speak evil of anyone to anyone else. If someone is trying to speak evil to you of others, tactfully dissuade them. This does not mean that you shouldn’t address complaints about harassment or incompetence.

20 He who curses his father or his mother, his lamp will go out in time of darkness.

How you treat your parents is important to God. If you wish them harm then God will leave you to face trouble on your own.

Don’t complain to your co-workers about your family, especially about the people in authority over you at home.

21 An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end.

If you grab your inheritance and deprive your siblings of their share you will receive pain.

At work, don’t try to grab power. Let God bring it to you – just like He did for Joseph and Daniel.

22 Do not say, "I will repay evil;" wait for the LORD, and He will save you.

Let God take revenge for you; He can do a much better job of it than you.

At work, if someone does evil to you, don’t do evil to them; rather, let God handle it for you.

23 Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false scale is not good.

Don’t cheat your fellowman in any way. If you do, God will be very disappointed in you.

At work, don’t cheat your suppliers or customers or co-workers. Give credit to those to whom it is due.

24 Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, how then can man understand his way?

If you want to understand what God is trying to tell you, observe how He arranges the circumstances around you.

At work, understand the situation around you because God may speak to you through the things going on at work.

25 It is a trap for a man to say rashly, "It is holy!" and after the vows to make inquiry.

Don’t make a vow without careful thought. In fact, don’t make a vow at all.

At work, don’t commit to doing something without understanding the weight of the task and the impact it will have on your workload.

26 A wise king winnows the wicked, and drives the threshing wheel over them.

If you are in charge, keep your domain free from wicked people.

At work, if you are in a position of authority, remove the incompetent members of your team if you are unable to fit them anywhere else.

27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the innermost parts of his being.

Your spirit is like port that God can tap into to find out everything about you. When you are in charge, you too need a way to find out what is happening in your organization.

At work, learn to keep your ear to the ground so that you can get a good read of what is going on.

28 Loyalty and truth preserve the king, and he upholds his throne by righteousness.

If you are in charge, you need people who are loyal to you and who will tell you the truth.

At work, search out for people who are in the know, and make them your friend.

29 The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.

You also need people who can get things done, and people whose experience can guide you regarding what to focus on.

When you are building a team, try to have people who are capable of getting stuff done as well as people who have a good sense of what to do.

30 Stripes that wound scour away evil, and strokes reach the innermost parts.

You have to sometimes discipline strongly so that people understand that you will not tolerate wrongdoing in your domain.

At work, if you are in a position of authority, make sure that you use discipline well and fairly.

Copyright (c) 2007-2026, Rosario (Ross) D'Souza. All Rights Reserved
Contact us