Acknowledge Each Other
Our job is to make sure that what we say is in the nature of loving entreaty.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you off to a good start today? Some of you of course listen late at night, and so you’re just about ready to file in. Well, wherever you are and however you feel, God bless you! This is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I want to walk around with you in the Word of God and make some practical applications that will give you, as I often say, a handle on the Word of God, so that you can get hold of it for yourself. We’ve come now to 1 Timothy, chapter 5. This book has gone rapidly, hasn’t it? I enjoy so much sharing God’s Word with you.
Paul says to young Timothy, “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honor widows that are widows indeed.” We’ll sart with this, “Rebuke not an elder.”
Now Timothy was a young man. Chapter 4 verse 12, “Let no man despise thy youth.” So he was a young fellow. But he had the job of supervising people older than he. That’s always a difficult task, isn’t it? Have you gone through that? It’s a difficult task because people may very well have been on the job longer than you. They may know more than you do about a number of things, and with the background of experience and age they may tend to look down on you as a young whipper snapper and say, “What does he or she know anyway?” That’s a real job, isn’t it? And in God’s work, in the work of the church, or missionary societies, or Christian education, or any of the parachurch ministries that are so important in our day, to have older people working with you if you’re a younger person, does constitute quite a motivational challenge.
Quite apart from what the text says here, I’ve found that it is very helpful immediately to take advantage of the superior knowledge of other people. If you come in trying to prove that you know more than they do, you’re in for a couple of bad falls. But if you come into a situation and quite openly acknowledge that these people know more than you do about a lot of things, you’re going to win their respect, if not their admiration. And you’re going to take away the prime cause of noncooperation which is the desire to be recognized as having some value. If someone comes in and says to you, “You don’t really know anything,” you become defensive, do you not? But if someone comes to you and says, “You know, you’ve got experience in this field. I want you to help me.” That puts an entirely different cast on the matter.
So that’s one thing. Another thing… I’m just thinking out loud here, maybe it’s helpful to somebody. Another thing in dealing with older people whom you need to supervise, is to bring them in openly into the planning process. So you’re new on the job, but you’ve come in with some ideas of as what has to be done. Maybe the company’s been losing money, so you have to turn it around. Maybe the personnel load has been too fat, and you have to thin it out some. Maybe the product line is old and tired, and you have to introduce something new that will be more salable. Or maybe your relationship with the competition has been sagging, and you need the kind of advertising that will effectively compete in the marketplace. And so on, up and down the line. I haven’t begun, have I, to list all the different problems that the young supervisor may encounter in coming into a new situation?
You people know that, many of you because you’re so experienced in these things. But there you are. What are you gonna do with people who are already on the job? You’re gonna come in and have them feel threatened, and as a result try to strengthen their own little kingdom in the organization?
No, you’re not gonna do it that way. You’re going to acknowledge that they know more than you do about some things. You’re going to enlist their help. You’re going to bring them openly into the planning process and into the solution of the problems that the organization faces. And if you’re a Christian organization you’re gonna get them on their knees with you and seek the face of God, because good planning comes out of good praying. First pray, then plan. First pray, then decide. First pray, then act. It’s the best rule you could follow. Well, I threw all of that in free, it’s kind of little extracurricular detour, but it comes out of a little experience in doing these things.
Now he says, “Rebuke not… ” That’s an interesting word. “Epiplesso” which means strike, beat upon. [chuckle] Don’t beat him up. [chuckle] This is the only place in the New Testament where this word is used. Well, actually the ordinary meaning is chastise with words, or chide roughly, or upbraid, or rebuke strongly. The basic meaning, as I told you, is beating up, beat on a person. [chuckle] But he says, “Don’t do that.” Now, why? Well, of course you know why. You don’t get anywhere in the first place, and you leave a lot of scar tissue in the second place that will take a long time to heal, maybe never disappear.
So, don’t do it that way. And sometimes you may be strongly tempted to. Some people are difficult and others put thought into being impossible, right? [chuckle] So, you may be strongly tempted to just explode on somebody. Don’t do it. I have a Cookism that I stole, I think, from someone but it’s so true. “Make a speech in anger, and it’ll be the finest speech you ever regret.” Every time you blow up, you may do a good job of blowing up, but you’ll always be sorry that you did it. So don’t do it that way. Now, the psychological reason is that you don’t change people by yelling at them. Husbands and wives find that out, don’t they? [chuckle] You don’t change the love of your life in the things that you want to have done differently by shouting about it.
It doesn’t work that way. People don’t change by lectures about it. So, that’s one good reason for not confronting roughly someone who is an elder in the work. And another reason is that by doing that, you destroy all possible bases of real cooperation. If you have the clout to say “You do it or else… ” assuming that you’ve got that much clout, the person will be forced to, if he wants to keep his job, will be forced to comply, but real cooperation will have vanished, and you’ll be subject to all kinds of foot dragging and all kinds of invisible slowdowns. People will be forced to comply, but they’ll do it as slowly and as ineffectively as possible just to prove you wrong. That’s human nature. That doesn’t work. There’s no future. There’s no markup in it. Like hypocrisy, Jesus said there’s no markup in that. So it is with this kind of dealing with other people. Just don’t beat up on them verbally. You don’t change people by lecturing them. All you do is make them defensive and create a lot of scar tissue, a lot of wind damage, a lot of hurts and deep hurts that take a long time to heal, all right?
Well, he said, “What else or how shall I do it?” He says, “But entreat him as a father.” Now, that’s a very familiar word in your Greek New Testament, “parakaleo” which means beseech or urge or exhort, and it has the overtones of comfort. From the same root we get the name for the Holy Spirit, the parakletos. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the One called alongside to help. That’s the easy transliteration of the word. The Holy Spirit of God is the One called alongside to help. He is the Comforter. That word is related to the word used here, entreat him, exhort, beseech. “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God,” Paul says in Romans 12. Remember that verse? What word does he use there? Let me look and see. Turning the pages here. See, parakalo, same verb. I beseech you. I beseech you, brothers. So he says you beseech him, you entreat him, you beg of him, you urge him, and you have something in what you say that’s going to be of comfort to him.
Small thought here. Most people, when they disagree with you on matters of principle or procedure, have some inner needs that are involved. And I’ve found this again and again. This is not to say that everybody whoever disagrees with you has a second hidden agenda. I don’t mean that necessarily. But where you find a person who is, especially a person older than you in the work, who is disagreeing about some change, well there’s something there that needs the comfort of God. In order to make the person comfortable with the change. You see, I oppose change because I don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel comfortable with it. Someone said to me a few years ago, “When my company was about to change over from manual bookkeeping to computerized, I just fought it because I didn’t think it was a good thing.” Really?
This person went on to say, “I was afraid I couldn’t handle it. Now that the system is in, I’m glad it’s in, and it’s such a good thing.” Our job is to make sure that what we say is in the nature of loving entreaty that somehow gets at the root of the person’s inner need. You beseech him, you entreat him, you exhort him, but the overtone of comfort needs to be there. That’s pretty good stuff, isn’t it? Yes, it is. Pastor, you try that out for size in your church, you’ll find that it works beautifully. Oh, yes, it does.
Dear Father today, oh may we be loving and kind and wise as we deal with others who may be older and more experienced than we, and who need that tender touch from God, in Jesus name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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