"So what do ya' think about Trump?"
No sooner had I just returned from Cleveland, where the focus with 300 leaders was on the evening Republican presidential debate, when a fellow approached me at the gas station posing the above question. It seems no matter which way you turn Donald Trump remains in the news.
Everyone has an opinion on the billionaire businessman and his most unusual quest for the presidential nomination. What if someone on his level or even above had the opportunity to share scriptural insights with him? What if that person happened to be the richest person who ever lived on the face of the earth?
I'm not referring to John D. Rockefeller who was the richest American to ever live. He's buried in Cleveland's Lakeview Cemetery. His wealth in current US dollars would exceed $700 billion!
John was a Baptist Christian, died at 97, and became a philanthropist donating vast sums of money for bettering humanity. This came after stress, depression and digestive problems caused the loss of all hair on his body! He finally had an "aha" moment and embraced the wisdom of Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Spending the last 40 years of his life in semi-retirement, John labored establishing foundations. His last name means "deserted place" and he had to come to that place before he turned around and humbled himself to receive counsel that made him a different person.
Multitudes across America who identify with much of the uncompromising message Donald Trump brings secretly wish someone could sit down with him and temper him in some areas so he could be more effective politically. They don't want a "Don Voyage" flameout. And what if the person advising him could be Solomon of Old Testament times? Will it likewise take something like Rockefeller experienced to jolt him and turn him around into a more statesman-like individual?
Together let's pursue this imaginary scenario.
According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest person who ever lived (apart from Jesus) and unquestionably the richest. His wealth was so extensive it's almost impossible to calculate it. Just the yearly infusion of taxes to him in gold amounts to $1,165,766,400.00 in U.S. dollars! Add to that the inheritance money from his father King David, the tribute, gifts, commerce and trading revenue and it leaves your head spinning! His net worth was, no exaggeration, megatrillions!
Solomon's fortunes and experiences led him to write in Proverbs 3:13–14, "Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding, for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver and her gain than fine gold." What follows are five nuggets of wisdom and understanding from this man spoken through the corridors of centuries. They're "mined" from the book/journal most experts believe he wrote — Ecclesiastes.
Some Suggestions From Solomon
Dear Mr. Trump,
1. Avoid extremism.
"It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes" (Eccl. 7:18).
While grasping for the presidency, yet not letting go of his marketplace experience, Donald would do well to speak forthrightly, yet not offensively and dogmatically. Alienating debate moderators (especially females), journalists and his fellow Republicans isn't good for his party. "But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another" (Gal. 15:15).
The late Senator Barry Goldwater once said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Some believe we are living in such a time. Yet wisdom usually dictates staking out and communicating balanced positions in a clear, charitable and commonsensical way. Extreme language, bluster and bombast ("idiot"… "fat"… "stupid" … "loser"…) is provocative but is it presidential? Candidates can be colorful and charitable without being combative and contentious.
When Reagan said, "Trust but verify" and Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," they struck a chord with the masses because of their simplicity and balanced way of communicating. Scripture records of Jesus, "The common people heard him gladly" (Mk. 12:37). Without "tickling ears," Mr. Trump should strive to convey truth with more "charity and clarity" as Bono sang in his song, "Mercy."
We need another revolution (peaceful) to restore our nation. Remember the first American Revolution was launched by Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" pamphlet conveying truth in a clear and compelling way, read throughout the colonies (even by George Washington to his troops) and remains the best-selling title in our history.
2. Stop scowling and control the anger.
"Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes it's hard appearance" (Eccl. 8:1).
"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools" (Eccl. 7:9).
It's been said, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression." Therefore when people tune into a debate or television interview, it's critical that they see a pleasant expression (I'm not suggesting a phony Cheshire cat plastic grin) plus not be subject to the cringe factor accompanying angry remarks and put downs. Pressure reveals the person and it would do Mr. Trump well to exercise more self-restraint with his emotions when confronted. Be firm — don't fume! "You're fired!" exclamations work for TV show ratings but this is way different.
3. Surround yourself with wise friends who speak the truth in love.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (Eccl.4:9-10).
Everyone needs people around them who tell them not what they want to hear but what they need to hear. And if these friendly counselors don't have the freedom to correct, they will eventually reject! This can be extremely challenging with a dominant person like Mr. Trump, but if he doesn't have these people in place, he'd better move quickly before it's too late. And he needs to keep uppermost these spokesmen and women are his "face" to the public (an f-bombing attorney blasting an opponent leaves a horrible impression!) Think of the tremendous fruit that came out of Billy Graham's ministry because he had such a close-knit team surrounding him for over 50 years!
4. Assume the posture of a learner and cultivate the skills essential for a political statesman.
"If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success" (Eccl. 10:10).
A wise man told me early in life, "I'd rather teach someone how to learn than teach him all that I know." Donald has been an extremely successful entrepreneur and television personality but now he must transition to becoming a statesman if he wants to win the nomination of the Republican Party. "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman the next generation." The urgency of the hour and the gravity of the situation in our nation dictate choosing the latter.
5. Slow down the showmanship and assume more the role of a wise and serious-minded patriot who ponders before speaking (and tweeting), is more measured in speaking, and demonstrates he really is passionate to "make America great again".
"Not only was the teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The teacher searched to find just the right words and what he wrote was upright and true" (Eccl. 12:9-10).
A Presidential debate is not the same as an "Apprentice" reality show. Individuals aspiring for the nomination of President must be on their best behavior and exemplify the very best of what one can offer the American people. The Commander-in-chief of the United States of America is the most powerful and important position in the world. If Donald Trump is serious about wanting to be this person, may he listen carefully to the words of not just another rich man but the Word of the Lord communicated through him in the brilliant Book of Ecclesiastes.
"Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14).
With best wishes,