1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Here Paul is giving fatherly wisdom to the young Timothy who is now the pastor of a church. The pastor must know how to deal with people, how to motivate them and how to confront them. This is not much different than managing people at work. Typically a manager is promoted out of the ranks because of some outstanding performance or loyalty. Coming from the ranks, he is now put in an awkward position of having to direct those he once worked with and perhaps even those he once worked for. The biblical advice given in the above verse is worthy of heeding and will go far towards earning respect from those around you including your elders.

Each of the relationships with people are compared to that of a familial relationship. Treat elders as fathers or mothers. When you approach them with correction, it is done with great respect and love. The conversation with your father might go like this: "Dad, you know I have a great deal of respect for you and I highly value your opinions, but I want to be honest with you, I think you are not correct on this issue. Let me tell you how I think it ought to be..." Can you see how the approach would work with an older person in the workplace? You have given him respect, and shown you honor, and consequently earned the right to correct.

With an older woman, you would be gentle as with your mother. With another man your own age, you would slap him on the back like a brother and then turn the conversation to weightier matters. With a young lady, you would be gentle, firm but beyond reproach, looking her in the eye but withholding any touch that might be taken in the wrong way.

I'm not sure I could do any of these things correctly without a constant awareness of the abiding presence of Christ in my life. Paul continues his charges to Timothy with three important principles: 1) show no favoritism, 2) do not get pulled in to the sins of others, and 3) stay pure. You'd be hard pressed to find any better principles for dealing with people in the workplace than these.

1 Timothy 5:21-22 (NIV)

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.


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