Ecclesiastes 8:1b – King Solomon’s Second Principle for Good Leaders

This post is taken from the commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes written by Pastor Robert McLaughlin (his commentary can be ordered free of charge by following this link). For my preceding post on Ecclesiastes 8:1a follow this link.

Here is a quick refresher on what the passage in question says:

Ecclesiastes 8:1. “Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.”

The quote below from Pastor McLaughlin is why I decided to post on King Solomon’s principles for leaders, I like it a lot! I have always thought that a person’s life is reflected in their face. More than once I have looked at someone and thought “they must have had a hard life!” I have known young people whose faces begin to show stress and cares way beyond their years and I have known old people whose faces do not show their age. Many would explain that away as being caused by genetics (isn’t that the explanation for everything anymore?) but I don’t buy it. Our faces not only show our genetics, and our circumstances, but how we have dealt with the problems of life.

I especially like the unattributed quote at the end of Pastor McLaughlin’s quote (if anyone ever reads this who knows the author please tell me in the comments). Too many Christians seem to think that having their faces twisted into a perma-scowl shows gravitas and maturity but I disagree. If we, as Christians, truly have a joy that surpasses all understanding shouldn’t it show in our faces?

Here is Pastor McLaughlin:

There’s another characteristic of a wise man in Ecclesiastes 8:1, “A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.” The phrase “stern face” refers to what comes naturally, but a man’s wisdom will cause a stern face to beam. When a person is in fellowship with God and is receiving doctrinal viewpoint, it will affect his or her countenance.

For example, when Stephen faced the Council in Jerusalem to preach the Gospel we read in Acts 6:15, “And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the council saw his face like the face of an angel.” He was representing TLJC [the Lord Jesus Christ] to the council and his face was radiating like an angel.

The same thing is found in Exodus 34:29, “And it came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’s hand) as he was coming down from the mountain, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him” [TLJC].

Proverbs 4:8-9. “Prize doctrine, and she will exalt you; She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

On the other hand, when a person is out of fellowship and under a divine curse or discipline, Isaiah 3:9 says, “The expression of their faces bears witness against them.”

So a second quality of a good leader is a cheerful disposition. There are few things more contagious than cheerfulness in a boss. Unfortunately, a stern boss can also affect an organization. This is the picture of someone in authority being stiff and tough and determined, with a face that looks like a withered grace, full of discouraging frowns, and negative brows. If you are a leader in any area and you have to deal with people, take a look at yourself about two or three o’clock in the afternoon. Don’t change your complexion; just run in the washroom and turn the light on, and look. You will see what everybody has to look at all day long.

One writer said, “Should we not see that lines of laughter above the eyes are just as much marks of faith as our lines of care and seriousness. Is it only earnestness that is baptized? Is laughter pagan? We have already allowed too much that is good to be lost to the church and cast many pearls before swine. A church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from the sanctuary and leaves it to the cabaret, the nightclub and the toastmasters.”

The Eight Experiments of Man: A Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes
Robert R. McLaughlin
pp 255-256

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