A God-Given Agreement

Pray about things and let God speak to people's hearts. First, pray then plan. First, pray then decide. First, pray then act.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-2


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doin’ alright today? Oh, I trust so. Bless your heart. Hope everything’s going okay at your house. Yes, this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m just so glad to be back with you and to share from the Word of God. I look forward to these times when I can sit down in front of the microphone and open the Word of God and share what God says to my own heart for you. And every time I prepare these broadcasts, you can know that I’m praying that God will put His love in my voice and His Truth in the words that are spoken, and His power and the impact that is made upon your life. I’ve been praying day by day for a good while that God would make the last years of my life the best. [chuckle] I just wanna spill over blessing wherever I go.

But first, 1 Timothy 5, “Rebuke not an elder but entreat him as a father.” We were talking about that the last time we got together. “Entreat him as a father.” He uses the verb ‘parakaleo’ which means to beseech or exhort or to urge or to persuade. There’s a good meaning of the word ‘persuade’ and with the overtones of comfort. Interesting thing.

You know, I found so very often that when people were disagreeing with me assuming now that I was right, a lot of times they disagreed with me ’cause I was wrong. [chuckle] I have to face that fact too, but assuming that I was correct about something, people disagreeing with me were disagreeing not just on the basis of the issue but on the basis of how they felt. And when you could get at that underlying feeling about things, then you were a lot closer to solving the whole problem. You want to look for that? You people who are in supervision, you pastors and missionaries who deal with folk, executives in your work in a corporation, look for that underlying problem.

I had a course one time in seminary I remember just two or three interesting things about it. I passed it with an A, however. But one of the concepts that has lingered with me through the years was this one: Every client that comes to you for counseling- they call ’em clients I presume because if you’re in business you get paid for it. The rest of us do it for free, right? And it said, “Every client that comes to you has two problems. There’s the presenting problem about which he or she will talk and then there is the real problem that you have to discover.” Now that’s often true and it’s true in managing folk in business and in Christian work. It’s true in taking responsibility for leading either a corporation or a ministry. Folk oftentimes have deep feelings which need to be addressed before you do very much arguing on principles or procedures. Alright?

Well, he said, “Entreat him as a father,” and now the verb ‘entreat’, parakaleo, is understood in the phrases that follow. “You beseech him as a father and you beseech the younger man as brothers and you beseech the elder women as mothers and you beseech the younger women as sisters with all purity.” It’s not just how you treat people, it’s how you deal with their needs and problems.

Now he said younger men as brothers. Brothers do disagree. Those of you who’ve been brought up in a family where you had brothers and sisters you can recall, can you not, disagreeing? My father frequently had to be the referee between my sister and me. She was 10 years my senior, and as a little girl of 13 had taken the responsibility of keeping house for my widowed father and for this little stroobly haired, runny-nosed boy.

Even in those days when I was four, five, six, seven, there was times when I simply disagreed with my sister. And at that point then, I would go to my father and say, “Sister, she did this or that or the other!”, and he would have to adjudicate the matter, which he did, sometimes resulted in the Scripture laying on of hands on my part. [chuckle] But those of you who were brought up in families, you know that brothers and sisters do disagree.

If you’re a good Christian, is it necessary always to agree with everybody else? Why, no of course not. I believe strongly that if you find a person who always agrees with you, you have to watch him ’cause he’s apt to lie about other things too. If you’re choosing co-workers, if you’re an executive and choosing administrators and co-workers, you don’t look for people who are gonna rubber stamp your ideas. You look for people who are gonna be loyal, you look for loyalty and people who are smart enough to get on top of their job but who, when they deal with you about matters, are gonna be honest about their own feelings and convictions even though they may disagree. That’s how you do that. So he said, “You deal with young men as brothers and there again it is the element of loving concern and persuasion that is to be utilized rather than the fiat method of directives which says, “Do this or else.”

Have you thought about that? Have you thought about how you get along with your peers? You see, they don’t necessarily have to do what you say. Your peers are your equals and oftentimes they disagree with you. What do you do about people in the office or the shop or the corporation or the church who aren’t necessarily responsible to you so they don’t have to obey you but they disagree? What do you do about that?

Well, everybody wants to be listened to and so one of the things that’s helpful is just to let people talk with you about how they see a given issue. Oftentimes I would say to a person, “You feel deeply about this, don’t you? You wanna talk about it?” And sometimes they’ll say, “Yeah, I’d like to talk about it.” And they’ll sit down and tell you how they feel about something, and by and by you can reach common ground on some things.

I found it very helpful when you are talking with your equals about matters on which you disagree, I found it very helpful to back off now and again and say, “Now, let’s see what we agree on.” Have you tried that in a committee meeting, friends? Let’s see what we agree on? And you’ll list the different things about which we have agreed in our conversation so far and then like as not, it’s strange how this works but it does work, like as not you’ll find other matters growing out of that on which you also can agree and then you can nail down two or three things that have to be thrashed out or worked out or prayed out, as the case may be.

By the way, you have the right if you’re in Christian work, if you’re a pastor of a church, or you’re a Sunday school teacher. Or you’re an elder, or a deacon, or you’re heading up a missionary society, or you’re a president of a college, or whatever it is-if you’re in Christian work you have the right, beloved, to have everybody facing the same direction. You have the right to a God-given agreement on matters.

During the years I worked very happily at Scripture Press in Wheaton as vice president and what they called distribution manager, I think that was high brow for sales. [chuckle] We met once a week in an administrative committee that included the division heads of the company and the president, Victor Cory; Mrs. Cory, the editor-in-chief; and some of the other people who were division heads. And we’d meet and talk about matters that had to do with the ongoing of that ministry of distributing the Word of God through Christian education and Sunday schools and the like.

Well, as you might expect there were some matters on which people didn’t always agree. And Vic Cory was very wise I thought. When there came a point on which the group was split and there were two points of view expressed and nothing seemed to give, he’d say, “We will just lay this over until next week, let’s just pray about this until next week.” And oftentimes when you came to taking the thing up the next week, minds had changed, point of view had changed, and there was a chance for unanimity.

The other principle is, pray about points of difference. If you’re gonna deal with your peers, your brothers and sisters, they’re your equals, they don’t have to do what you say. Pray about things and let God speak to people’s hearts. First, pray then plan. First, pray then decide. First, pray then act. Oh, to get a group praying about something is one of the sources of great motivational miracle. And one of the benefits of having lived a while is that you know this works. I’m not recommending to use anything that’s theoretical now, anything I tell you I’ve been there. To get on your knees and seek God about a matter where you’ve been at loggerheads and have God give you the ideas that bring you together as you pray, oh that’s great. And he does it. Yes, he does.

Now along with that, there has to be the commitment to unanimity in what you understand to be the will of God. Nothing is so important that it cannot wait until God speaks to our hearts. I told you that Mr. Cory would lay a thing over for a week or two and just give God a chance to work. This is so true in matters where you have to decide something. All my mistakes have been made in a hurry, how about yours? Nothing is so important that it cannot wait until God speaks to all our hearts. Pastor Ward Potts, my good friend in the Cleveland area told me that they adopted this policy that whatever they decided, it would have to be something that everyone felt, everyone that is in the group felt, that God was leading them to do.

And so they were praying about some step or other that involved expansion and everyone was in agreement about something except one person who said I just cannot feel comfortable with this, I can’t feel confident. And so, regretfully, they backed off from it, only to discover just a little later on that God had something so far better for them and they all rejoiced that they had been willing to wait until God gave them oneness of heart on the matter. The best management in the world grows out of the bended knee, and the bowed heart, and the moistened eyes, and the yielded will. When you pray, you give God a chance to manage you and your co-workers. It’s a great concept, isn’t it? Yes, it is.

Dear Father today, oh, as we get along with people may it be on the basis of getting along with God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today, and be a blessing!

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