Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. — 1 Timothy 5:1-2
So based on everything we have read over the last four chapters, Timothy will have to lead through some tough stuff. Paul knows he will have to tell some people to step up and others to step down. And how he handles this is important. He needs to be diplomatic. So Paul paints a picture of how he wants Timothy to relate to them. He encourages him to treat them as family members in a spiritual ecosystem that is divinely related.
I think the modern church fails to embrace this concept. In our time, we have reduced the church to an event we attend every week, and therefore it has become a mere transaction. Thus churchgoers are reduced to titles with only transactional meaning — i.e., attendees, consumers, and participants. But we aren't attendees, consumers, and participants. We are an actual spiritual family with spiritual obligations to one another. We are members of a family joined together by a Father through the sacrifice of his Son, which makes us brothers and sisters. This spiritual family bears a weight of responsibility that requires us to treat one another as a family. This means that leaders in the church need to remember that while there are hard things to address, they are stewards of God's family. They are not leaders of an organization that drives a vision that can make any decision in a thoughtless and careless way that dismisses its family members.
This is what I have loved about learning to lead as a father. As a father, I am forced to be more creative and careful in leading the children in my family. And why? Because I know I am bound to these people forever by my blood. This thought alone reminds me to treat them with the greatest respect and love, even when I know there are hard conversations we need to have.
But God's spiritual family takes precedence over even my blood. As a spiritual leader in my home, I am reminded daily that Jesus's blood joins me in relationship with my wife and children in a way that is greater than natural relationships because it's supernatural and spiritual. Therefore I must treat them each as brothers and sisters in Christ. And this spiritual family bears responsibility that is mine to steward as a spiritual leader every day.
So here's a question for you today. Is there a brother or sister in Christ that you need to think about and treat differently today?
ASK THIS: Is there a follower you need to treat a little differently today?
DO THIS: Think about them as family and lead them differently.
PRAY THIS: God, may I see your children as my real brothers and sisters in Christ.
PLAY THIS: Brother.
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