Friendly, Not Familiar

The more you deal with people in a day-to-day relationship, they more they will feel safe with you.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-2


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? Well, I trust so, bless your heart. Yes, this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m back with you, once again, to look at the Word of God. Just now, in First Timothy, Chapter Five.

It occurred to me, after we finished the last broadcast, that as I look at Chapter Five, Verses One and Two, there’s a Divinely given way of interacting with people. We call it ‘internal public relations,’ ‘internal PR,’ you’ve heard that, you corporate people, many times, I know. In other words, how do you conduct yourself day after day, with people with whom you must work, either for them, or with them, or supervising them, but you’re dealing with human beings. How do you approach it?

Well, as you read this passage, you see that attitude means so very much. All of us have suffered under the approach of someone who came and said, “Now, you’re not gonna like this, but I’m gonna tell you for your own good.” [chuckle] Immediately, you feel defensive, and although you don’t put up literal fists, you raise the [chuckle] dukes of your heart and mind, to defend yourself from whatever’s coming. [chuckle] I’ve had a lot of that, and I guess so have you.

No, the attitude means so much. The attitude, that is to say, with which we approach other people, either, for whom we work, or with whom, or people who we supervise. Now, he says, “Rebuke not an elder, but plead with him, beseech him, and comfort.” Remember, I told you, there’s an overtone of comfort there. Everybody’s hurting somewhere, find out where they’re hurting, and you’ll be a blessing to them. “Treat him as a father.” There’s a combination there of respect and affection, a desire to have a right relationship. If you and your parents are out of touch and not getting along, if you’re cross-wise of each other, it just doesn’t feel right, does it? So there’s a desire there to get together and be right. All of those things are wrapped up there, “Treat him as a father. Treat the younger men as brothers, the older ladies as mothers, the younger as sisters, with all purity.”

God has a plan for our attitude in dealing with the people with whom we’re involved, day by day in God’s work. Treat them as though they were indeed members of your own immediate family. That sense of a person accepting me and appreciating me is very important in human relations, have you discovered that? Can you tell when someone is rejecting you, even though they may be smiling? Can you tell when someone is looking down on you, as we say, considering themselves superior to you? Can you feel that, even though the words haven’t been spoken? Of course you can. We telegraph our attitudes to other people, without necessarily saying anything. I sometimes use the little comical illustration of the man who forgets his wedding anniversary, comes home without a greeting or a present, and I say, “Now, men, if you forget your wedding anniversary, and you come home without any present, or any greeting, or any mention of it, the minute you step inside the door, you’re going to understand, that the weather has turned chilly. Not a word needs to be said, but you’ll know.”

Why? Well, because that’s how we are. So what is your basic approach to people, with whom you’re working closely in the Lord’s work, or people that are your co-workers in business, or in your profession? I think it has to be one of acceptance, accept them, just as they are. You can’t make your father and mother over. You can’t make your brothers and sisters over. They are what they are. They won’t be much different, as the years go by, but you accept them in love, because you belong to them. Paul is saying, “You treat these people, as though they were indeed mothers, your mother that is, your father, your brother, your sister.” Acceptance and respect.

It’s dreadfully humbling and almost devastating to have somebody tell you that you don’t amount to anything, either by telling you in so many words, or by expressing the sentiment in attitudes and actions, “You don’t amount to anything.” You thought that you were important to some process or other, and you’re left out of it.

Let’s say you’re the past chairman of your Rotary Club, or your Kiwanis Club, or your Lions Club, and now, they’re planning some kind of a special doings, that is calculated to reach the whole community, but not a word is said to you about having any share in it. And then a week before the thing is supposed to happen, somebody says, “Oh, by the way, Jim, you’re coming aren’t you, to the big gala that we have? You’re a past chairman and we ought to have you.”

Well, it grates on you, doesn’t it? You think, “Why in the world did they have to wait until a week before the thing is scheduled to ask me to come? I’ve been chairman. I worked my head to the bone,” as the saying is. [chuckle] “I tried so hard and I guess I don’t amount to much.” Does that have a familiar ring to it? I guess all of us have been left out, at some time or other. And people just tell you by their actions, that you don’t amount to anything, that you aren’t needed. [chuckle]

I remember in the days when I was first trying to establish Youth For Christ, in some areas, where it was quite difficult. This would be back in the late 1940s, I guess, and I was in a certain city, where I was trying to establish Youth For Christ. Well, the chairman of the ministerial committee in that city took me aside. He was gracious, I have to say that for him. A dear pastor, who was in charge of a very large church work, and he was kind, but what he had to say to me was pretty direct.

The essence of it was this, after he talked with you for a while, he wound up his speech by these words, and I’ll quote him word for word. He says, “You know, my dear brother, we’re not against you, we just don’t need you here.” [chuckle] That qualified the buyer in a hurry, didn’t it? Yeah. So, you see, that’s a problem that we face in dealing with people. If there isn’t that basic respect for the individual, and that basic acceptance of the individual in love, because of Jesus, then there is the basis for disagreement, right away, because the person feels that, and instinctively defends himself or herself.

So there’s acceptance and there’s respect for the person as being valuable, as having some value. I told our students, oftentimes, as I spoke to them there at the college, I said, “Every person you ever meet will be better than you at something. Even if he’s a dope, he’ll be a better dope than you.” [chuckle] Everybody you ever meet has some point of superiority over you, and that then gives rise to the management principle, that so many of you managers have learned. Treat the essence of tact… The essence of tact, is to treat every person you meet, as though he or she were your superior. The essence of tact, is to treat every person you meet, as though he or she were your superior. For indeed, if the truth were known, they are superior to you in some way or another.

Then he adds this phrase, after he gets though talking about fathers, and mothers, and brothers, and then sisters, he says, “With all purity,” that’s our idea of holy living. Now, why did he say that?

I was talking to a young minister, who is doing well, and all of that, and certainly is spiritual, and walking with the Lord. Well, he said it, because it needs to be said to us from time to time, “There’s a fine line that distinguishes between friendliness, on one hand, and familiarity on the other.” I asked Dr Thomas Zimmerman, who for many years was the head of The Assemblies of God. Dear friend of mine and co-worker in the National Religious Broadcasters, one of the original presidents of the group. He and I talk together, now and again, and on one occasion, I said, “Tell me some great principles on which you have built your work?” And he gave me a number of them, but one of them was this, “Be friendly, but avoid familiarity.”

Now, why? Why should we have to say this? Because my friend, you’re a member of the human race, and many a person has approached the downfall of his or her usefulness, through this door of familiarity with people. Does that mean you can’t have any friends? No, of course, it doesn’t mean that. It does mean, that as you’re dealing with people, in a day to day relationship, they are going to feel safe with you, because they know you don’t have any ulterior motives. They don’t have to say, when you greet them with, “Good morning,” they don’t have to say, “I wonder what he meant by that?” Should you pass them, and lay a friendly hand, momentarily upon the shoulder of a man or a woman with whom you’re speaking, and encouraging them, they don’t have to wonder, “I wonder, what is this? Is he making a pass at me?” They don’t have to wonder about that. Why? Because you have established the fact, that you don’t have any designs on them, that you’re not fooling with their integrity, and that you are indeed a man or a woman of God.

This, I think, has to be paramount in our dealing with other people. They have to feel safe with us, if we are going to minister with them, and to them, and for them. Do you wanna think about that, as you evaluate your own relationships with people? Friendly, but not familiar. Paul said, “With all purity.” It’s our idea of holiness, and being chaste, and pure. Friendly, but not familiar.

Well, what have we said today? If you’re gonna work with people, you accept ’em, you respect ’em. You are friendly, but you allow them to feel safe with you, because they have their own space of respectable existence. And then, I would add this, they need to feel the Presence of God in your life. When you walk into a room, people ought to feel God in your presence.

Dear Father, today, make us people with whom other people feel safe, because of Jesus in our lives. Amen.

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

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