Finding Beautiful People
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
A major theme in Proverbs is the importance of seeking out wise people to guide you – in this case, one’s parents, although it can be other role models as well. The way we become wise is to pay close attention to people who are already wise – who already have beautiful lives, morally and spiritually speaking.
One example of this is the famous mentorship of Ambrose, bishop of Milan, to Augustine, who eventually became a bishop in North Africa. Augustine, who was fifteen years younger than Ambrose, was not a Christian when he first met the bishop. Augustine was a brilliant young professor of rhetoric who went to Ambrose’s church out of professional interest – he wanted to observe Ambrose’s preaching style. But something happened as he attended Ambrose’s sermons, as Augustine records in his autobiography The Confessions:
For, although I took no trouble to learn what he said, but only to hear how he said it … yet … there also came into my mind the ideas which I ignored; for I could not separate them. And while I opened my heart to acknowledge how skillfully he spoke, there also came an awareness of how truly he spoke, but only gradually.
The story continues in The Confessions, as Augustine explains how being around a man of great character – who loved God and loved his community wholeheartedly – slowly transformed Augustine’s picture of Christianity.
Augustine was eventually set free from years of sexual addiction and years of philosophical doubts, and came to faith in Christ, eventually rising to be one of the greatest leaders in church history. In Ambrose’s beautiful life, Augustine found a man who helped to beautify himself.
Today you might consider a few questions: who are some people in your life that you admire? What do they do that sets them apart? What is one thing you could copy from them that would make your life more admirable, like a spiritual “chain adorning your neck”? Ask that God would use them to build His beauty into your life.
Father, thank you for placing people of wisdom in our church and in our lives. Help me to be a keen observer of their character, and by your Spirit replicate that character in me. In Christ’s Name, Amen.