Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership
When we are young in age and in faith we don’t really think about the state of mind or condition of those who are much older in our gathering of believers. If they smile, we smile back. If they elderly reach out to give a hug, we reluctantly allow it…if we know them. If they have trouble getting around, we move around them as an obstacle with our busy, fast pace. It annoys us to have to repeat what we say to them often because they cannot hear as well as they used to hear. We forget that they have worlds of wisdom through experience on this journey than we could possibly have…because we are young.
Now, I am getting older. I have retired from secular work of teaching science. I have free time to think and reflect. I let my hair go silver gray. I stopped using hair dye just to make myself “look younger”. I am embracing my age and even celebrating it. But I am still me. My mind still tells me I am younger than I am. I still ride my bike and can climb the rock wall at the local baseball field. According to my husband, I still move around at a quick pace and must slow down for others. (This is inherited, my Grandma Kellerby walked fast, too. Just saying.)
Now that I look more like the part of an old person, I am now noticing that others who don’t really know me well treat me differently in this world. Strangers either treat me with kindness or as a burden to them. I am either honored for wisdom or assumed too old to know and treated as stupid. In this world, there are advantages (like Senior Discounts) and disadvantages (like a younger gal taking my phone from me at the store when I didn’t pull up my coupon fast enough.) I am amused at both advantages and disadvantages in my experiment of letting my hair go gray and watching how I’m treated. It is almost like an episode of “Undercover Boss” or “What Would You Do”. (Smiling, now.)
But that is the world.
As believers, Paul tells us plain and simple how to deal with aging in the community of faith. Honor them. Help when needed. But don’t help too much. Teach family members that they are responsible, too. Remember the church is being persecuted. Young and old have lost spouses because of their faith. Paul offers advice to Timothy, given the circumstances, to be helpful not harmful.
1 Timothy 5, The Message
The Family of Faith
5 1-2 Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters.
3-8 Take care of widows who are destitute. If a widow has family members to take care of her, let them learn that religion begins at their own doorstep and that they should pay back with gratitude some of what they have received. This pleases God immensely. You can tell a legitimate widow by the way she has put all her hope in God, praying to him constantly for the needs of others as well as her own. But a widow who exploits people’s emotions and pocketbooks—well, there’s nothing to her. Tell these things to the people so that they will do the right thing in their extended family. Anyone who neglects to care for family members in need repudiates the faith. That’s worse than refusing to believe in the first place.
9-10 Sign some widows up for the special ministry of offering assistance. They will in turn receive support from the church. They must be over sixty, married only once, and have a reputation for helping out with children, strangers, tired Christians, the hurt and troubled.
11-15 Don’t put young widows on this list. No sooner will they get on than they’ll want to get off, obsessed with wanting to get a husband rather than serving Christ in this way. By breaking their word, they’re liable to go from bad to worse, frittering away their days on empty talk, gossip, and trivialities. No, I’d rather the young widows go ahead and get married in the first place, have children, manage their homes, and not give critics any foothold for finding fault. Some of them have already left and gone after Satan.
16 Any Christian woman who has widows in her family is responsible for them. They shouldn’t be dumped on the church. The church has its hands full already with widows who need help.
LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #5:
Honor Each Other
Leadership Characteristics to acquire and mature
–Don’t be harsh or impatient with those who are older. If this is hard, and it was with me, pray for God’s help. He WILL help you.
–Help with reverence and honor, not giving into pride and selfishness.
–Help in ways that retain the dignity of those we help.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for helping us through all the stages of life on this brief journey here. Thank you for always being with us. Thank you for helping widows through the tough times of doing life without their spouses emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. Thank you for Your Word and Your Holy Spirit that teaches, comforts, convicts and restores us. Continue to transform me. Transform the church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen