Happy Saturday, read Proverbs 12:1-14 if you’re keeping up with our weekend reading schedule.
Some of the greatest fortunes in world history have been created by great ideas. The idea that a person should be able to use a computer by looking at icons on a screen and clicking on them with the mouse was a great idea. Bill Gates made a product called Windows based on that great idea. By selling Windows to the world, Gates went from being a very successful, very wealthy man to being the wealthiest man on earth.
It’s important to realize, though, that Bill Gates did not come up with the idea of Windows. Apple had created the Macintosh which used the same concept and even introduced the mouse to the mass market for the first time. But Steve Jobs and the Macintosh team did not create that idea either. They licensed the idea from Xerox, the copier company, who had computer engineers researching and prototyping all kinds of technologies that Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, and other technology companies have used to create wealth. Xerox missed out on all that wealth because they had great ideas but did not put the work into making those ideas into products.
The point of this story is that ideas are powerful but only if they are translated into successful products through hard work. By themselves, ideas--even great ideas--are worthless. That’s right, worthless. Patents and licensing have been created by lawyers to give ideas some value, but licensing a good idea to a company is difficult and not nearly as productive as making a successful product from a good or great idea.
Here in Proverbs 12:11 the Bible teaches us this lesson in proverbial form. It says in verse 11b, “...those who chase fantasies have no sense.” These are the dreamers, the “crazy ones”* who have lots of interesting ideas, even some innovate and useful ideas, but they never do the work involved in making that idea into a product. By contrast, according to verse 11a, “Those who work their land will have abundant food.” Who gets the benefit of a great idea? Someone who is willing to put the work into making something productive.
Maybe you have a great idea or you think that you will prosper because you’re a Christian or because you’re a nice person or because you are brilliant, or whatever. All of those things can help, but nothing can substitute for the power of dedicated, applied effort that we call work. So, if you have a great idea, do what it takes to turn it into a great product. Even if you have an OK idea or no idea at all, working faithfully and productively on someone else’s ideas can help provide for you. That’s what you do when you take a job, so be the kind of employee who “works their land” (v. 11a).
- Yes, Apple made an emotional commercial called “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” but the truth is that Apple is successful because of products, not crazy dreams. The Steve Jobs voiceover version of that commercial, which Apple never aired, is better than the one Apple actually used which was voiced by actor Richard Dreyfuss.