Honoring Your Masters

1 Timothy 6:1-2

6 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort

Paul now turns his attention to servants and their masters. One could read this and wonder how it applies to today’s world. One of the things we have to realize is that, in Paul’s time, there were not companies who hired employees to work for them. Each man worked at his own trade or they were apprentices or servants of others. From what I read the word employee is from the French word “employé” and started to be used in the US around 1850 to describe one who works for another. But isn’t a servant one who works for another? I would say that today’s employee is similar to Paul’s servant in these verses, and thus the admonition he gives here is very relevant, and also very ignored!

I have worked for many different “masters” or bosses and supervisors over the years. I have also been in that position myself. One of the things that always drove me crazy was the number of employees who would put down, disparage, mock and ridicule their bosses behind their backs. I saw a never ending stream of this at one company where I worked for twenty years, I have to admit I was even guilty occasionally. I would put my boss down for always being late om everything. I remember times we didn’t even leave the office until after the meeting we had 30 minutes away was supposed to start. She was impossible when it came to timetables. She was also a wild driver. She would have the phone in one hand, a pencil in the other taking notes and her leg on the steering wheel. Oh my, it was a wild ride on occasion.

No matter what she was like, the word of God says I should honor her. Do you have a boss that is hard to honor? I gave honor to her because she was my boss (and a part owner of the company) and because she deserved it most of the timer. Sure she had her quirks, but don’t we all? What gives me the right to disobey God’s word and hold back the honor that my supervisor deserves? There is no justification for dishonoring a master, or boss, or supervisor, or in my case a coordinator. I sell Aflac insurance. I am an independent agent. I am not employed and assigned tasks on a day to day basis. I make my own business happen. But I do have a Coordinator who helps guide me if I have questions. I am supposed to report numbers to her on a weekly, and sometimes daily, frequency. If I do not give these numbers to her, I am dishonoring her. I am refusing to do what she has asked me to do.

Paul then shares that if the person who is our master, (boss, supervisor, coordinator) is a believer in Christ then this principal of honor should be carried out without any hostility or anger toward them. He says “do not despise” which means do not get angry at their ways or resentful of their position. We should never be seen saying “I could do a better job then them” or “What a rotten decision that was.” Instead, we should be lifting them up and making them feel like our master, not just some other employee.. The reason for all this honor is simple. If we are showing dishonor to our supervisor by saying unkind things, that ruins our Christians testimony. It shows people that we are no better the world in the way we treat our superiors. We grumble and complain just as good as everyone else, even though the Bible tells us we should not grumble and complain (Philippians 2:14)! This is something the Christian community needs to work on – big time!

I see people who have gone to my church, or those I know are committed Christians, showing a lack of honor to their masters every day it seems. How can we be so naïve to think that God would look the other way? Doesn’t the word say in one place that when we do something to the least of those around us, it is the same as doing it for Christ (Matthew 25:40)? If that be the case, would you so talk about Jesus that way, or do such things behind His back? I hardly think so. I hope that you would show Jesus extreme honor as our Savior and Lord. And we should do the same to those we serve. God has put me in the role I am in. he has put those people in authority over me whom he thinks will help me be successful and who will teach me the lessons I need to learn. Why would I ever even think of showing dishonor to this one who guides my career?

How do we show honor to these masters of ours? There are several ways to show honor and most of them are right in the Bible! God doesn’t leave us single handed to try and figure this out ourselves. Let me share a few of the ways we can show honor.

1) Pray for those in authority over us (1 Timothy 1:2-3) We discussed this verse a few months ago (I have been slow in writing this blog). I know a lot of people hate Donald Trump, and a lot of people hated Barak Obama before him. Completely different crowd of haters. I wonder how many stopped complaining and started praying under either one. True, they are not our masters. But they are our leaders, whether we like them or not. They deserve honor and respect no matter what side of the aisle you are on. Our masters at work are the same way. They need our prayers every day. Maybe then we would change so that we would give them the honor God asks us to give to them.

2) Speak gracefully about them (Ephesians 4:29). Our mouths can be sewers, repositories for all things unclean. Way to often we allow ourselves to be overtaken by the enemies voice, who speaks to us things that are hurtful and abusive. We, in turn, bring those thoughts up from the depths of our heart to attack those around us, including our masters. All manner of corrupt communication comes out which is exactly what this verse tells us not to do. That is never God speaking. God speaks in words of grace, love and mercy. He speaks faith, not doubt. He speaks life, not death. What will you speak?

3) Be kind (Romans 12:10) Our world is running away from kindness. People want to be able to advance their agenda and they don’t care who they have to run over to do it. Etiquette has gone out the window. Please and thank you are a lost art, especially among our youth. We tell someone to do something instead of asking politely. Being kind is something that will show Christ to others about as fast as anything will. It shows others that we care about them and want what is best for them. It shows honor and respect for the other person. Be kind!

4) Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you (Matthew 7:12). The most basic of all human rules yet we miss it so much. If you were the boss how would you want to be treated? You will probably answer that question by saying I would want to be honored, respected, followed and regarded highly by my employees. If that is what you would want then why aren’t you doing that? That is the basic heart of the matter. Apply the golden rule to everything you do and say. Ask yourself constantly “Would I want someone to do or say that to me?” if your answer is not, then stop it immediately!

That’s a good list to start with. If you can accomplish those 4 things you are well on your way to bringing honor to those in authority. It does not matter how you are treated or what the boss is like. This is your responsibility. Do not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).

On Treatment of Elders

1 Timothy 5:16-21

16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”[b] 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 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.

We now end the discussion about widows with an admonition to those women who may be taking care of widows in their own homes. These women are special to me. Either their husbands have allowed them to have such a ministry, or they too are widows and have decided to give of their substance to help someone else in need. As we discussed before, widows were in trouble back in this day if they had no means passed down from their husband. They could not own land and often other possessions would go to the brothers of the deceased and not necessarily to their wife. The women who took in widows are indeed a rare breed, filled with mercy and compassion. This helped alleviate the church of the burden.

How many of us are willing to take someone in who is unrelated and in desperate need of being kept? I would guess there are not many. In today’s world, we would put ourselves in a very awkward position by taking someone in and caring for them. First of all, if things don’t work out it might be hard to get them out of our house. Second, they may take advantage of our generosity and use us, almost abuse our good intentions. Third, they could actually take over our home and kick us out – it has happened. It takes an incredible amount of courage and faith in today’s world to do something like that, and it did in those days too. If you know of someone who is caring for an unrelated person in their home, pray for them.

Next, to the elders. The word elder refers to a seasoned man who has sound judgement. I think we all would agree that elders in the church need to meet this standard. It is never recommended that a young man without much acquired wisdom should be appointed as an elder. In 1 Kings 12 we read of Rehoboams decision to follow the advice of the young men who he ran with rather than the elders that had served the country for years. The result of this split up the country to two pieces and they never got back together again until the 20th century. It was a disaster! This is a lesson we all need to heed carefully. The selection of elders is critical to the future of our churches. Make sure you are choosing men of wisdom and seasoning that will bring sound reason and spiritual understanding when a decision must be made.

This also goes true in our own lives. We all must be careful who we ask advice from when important decisions come around. Look for men with wisdom and integrity to guide you through life. Maybe a pastor, or that elder in your church who you look up to. This is one way to give the double honor to them that Paul mentions here. Trusting in them for guidance is showing them honor.

Another way to show those elders honor is to show up for church and special activities whenever possible. When services are being held, we show our Pastor and the elders honor by being there and being involved. If one of the elders happens to be a teacher also let him know how much you appreciate his commitment to the church. If he teaches your class, be involved in the discussion. This lets him know you are paying attention. Listening to someone gives honor to them. If a church workday is planned, being there to help clean and repair the things in the church shows the elders honor. These men work hard to build a spiritual foundation for the church and it is our job to make sure the physical building is in good order. The elders deserve more than lip service – they deserve our appreciation. Often, they are held to a higher standard, especially if they are teaching as well. The least we can do is show them the honor they deserve.

If someone comes up to you with an accusation against an elder, and you hear nothing else about it, then you should ignore that accusation. People are cruel, to be honest, and they will often go to great lengths to bring others down to their level. It’s not uncommon at all for someone to either make up an accusation or read into a situation something that is just not true. I was just watching an episode of “When Calls the Heart” last night with my wife (we love that show). Jack, the main character, walked into a restaurant to eat and the nurse that was taking care of his brother happened to be there going over some of her records. She motioned to Jack and he sat down at her table to discuss his brother’s situation.

Soon after, the sister of his Jacks girlfriend walked by the same restaurant and saw them sitting together. So, she came into the restaurant and Jack told introduced her to the nurse and said they were looking at his brother’s records. The sister, who did not particularly like Jack, decided to try and make an issue out of it. She made it sound like they were having a romantic dinner together, insinuating that he was being unfaithful to his girlfriend. This accusation was totally unfounded and almost cost the relationship. Fortunately, they both saw the deception of the sister eventually and made amends.

We must be careful to never jump to conclusions when we see something that seems out of place especially when it involves an elder. If we have questions about something, we should go to them first and tell them we have a concern. I have been an elder in many churches and I have always appreciated when someone comes to me with a concern about my behavior. It shows me that they care, and this is a way of showing honor. You allow me to explain what was going on instead of formulating your own conclusions. If I don’t give a sufficient answer and you have serious questions, then I would suggest you go to the pastor. Not your friend, or your neighbor, or even your spouse. An elder always deserves the benefit of the doubt and going to the pastor should keep the matter confidential. If you have a good pastor, he will know what to do in the situation.

I have been in a position of complete wrong against my pastor, my family and my employer. I was and elder in the church and the worship leader, as close to an assistant pastor as our little church would need. I did some very stupid things and wound up losing my job of 20 years over them. I told my wife and we met with our pastor. He was deeply hurt because I had been through this before with him and he had come to a place of trusting me once again. He did not go so far as to publicly reprove me, but he did insist that I should go for help or never come into his church again. It was a turning point in my life and I am grateful he took those drastic measures.

My wife decided to go back to a church we had gone to before and I went on an 8-month sabbatical to get my life straightened out. When I returned, we stayed in the church where my wife was going and are still there today, 11 years later. That pastor and I have reconciled and I have ministered in his church a few times. Our God is so awesome that he restores broken relationships. I am grateful that my pastor did what was necessary back then because if he had not, I might be still travelling down a destructive road.

Paul ends by telling Timothy how important it is to stay with the instructions we he has given. As a young man, I am sure Timothy had plenty of people who would offer him advice on certain matters. Paul wanted to make sure the first priority was to say with the truths he had shared with Timothy in this letter. Still today it is important to stick with the teachings found in this letter. Let us not wander from the truths contained here!

More on Widows

1 Timothy 5:9-15

9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.

I have held off on writing about this next [portion because frankly I was not sure what to say. I always rely on the Holy Spirit to give me insight, but Paul goes on and on about widows once more, and as I prayed I did not come up with a reason he did this. Oh, I could go to countless commentaries and get their ideas, but that is not my way. I .pray you’ll be patient with me as I write, relying on the Spirit to guide my words. Right now, I am not sure where this will go.

Paul begins by mentioning the older widows, those over 60. This was an old age ion those days as the average life expectancy in Israel at the time was 35-40 years old, with the rich usually living longer. So someone over 60 was rare, especially a widow. Widows had no one but their own children to care for them as women did not work in those days. If the widow did not have any sons, it would be even worse for her. So Paul is admonishing Timothy to accept the older widows into the church.

Notice the list of good works listed associated with widows. The wife of one man, raised her children well, lodged strangers, washed the saints feet, relieved the afflicted and diligently followed every good work. To me this is a picture of someone whop is faithful and has a servants hears. Remember what Jesus said to the disciples when He washed their feet? He said the greatest among you shall be servant of all. This woman served her husband, her children, strangers, the saints and the afflicted. She did not turn her back on anyone. Can you say the same thing? Do you give of yourself until there is no more to give? It would have been easy for this widow to just sit back and take care of her own and not worry about others. But she rose above her hardship and continued to serve others faithfully. God loves that!

We must take every opportunity to help others. If someone comes across our path who needs help or prayer or transportation or food if it is in our power to provide that than we should. This is the main way we witness to those who do not know Christ and also to uplift others in the body of Christ. Colossians 3:23 tells us that whatever we do we should do it with all our heart, as if we are doing it to the Lord Jesus Himself. This means buying groceries or washing someone’s floor for them. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us God loves a cheerful giver. How much He must love it when we cheerfully give of our time and resources to those that need it. Let us all be like this elderly widow and do what God asks us to do.
Contrast this praise of the elderly widow to the stern warning about the younger widow. He warns that if they do not remarry quickly, they will be come busybodies and gossips. Our world is full of people who backbite and speak degradingly about other people. A Christian should never do these things. Gossip and backbiting are just as much of a sin as rape and murder. We tend to forget this fact. Paul says not to give any occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully. In Ephesians 4:29 he states this thought even better.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I have a strong desire to live by this verse. I never want to say anything harmful or hurting to someone. I desire that my speech ministers grace to the one hearing it. Now I admit, I am not doing great at this, but I keep growing. This is a very powerful scripture and one we should all pay careful attention to. If the church could just accomplish this, so many more would come to us and desire Christ in their life. The gossip and backbiting would stop within the church and all would be uplifted by one another. This may sound Utopian, but I think it is possible.

The last line talks of those who do not speak with this grace but are always backbiting, gossiping, arguing and complaining. He says they have turned aside to Satan. These are powerful words and present quite a condemnation to those who just can’t seem to say the right thing. They are full of put downs, jabs and satirical remarks. They think it’s funny to poke fun at people. You may think it’s funny to and be drawn in to the conversation. Please don’t let that happen! Serve God with your tongue as much as with any member of your body. You will find that tour not only being a blessing to others, but to yourself as well.

 

Worse Than and Infidel

1 Timothy 5:8

8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Before we look at what this all means, we must first look at the word “infidel”. According to Webster an infidel is “someone who does not believe in religion of adheres to a religion other than their own”. This is commonly what we think about this word when we come across this verse. We think Paul is saying this person is worse than an unbeliever, and in many ways that is true. But it is not necessarily someone who does not have any religion, or even who adheres to another religion. This same Greek word, apistos, is used when talking about Thomas doubting that Jesus was alive. It is used by Jesus when talking about Christians who reject the true faith. In other words, we are looking at a person who doubts the Gospel and the precepts outlined therein. He does not place his faith in the truth and therefore is labeled an unbeliever.

Are there things in the word that you doubt? Or do you adhere that everything in the Bible is completely accurate, without flaw. How about the creation account? Do you doubt that God created the world, the universe, and all that is therein in 6 days and then took a day off? Do you adhere to some of the different explanations of the “6 days”, like each day is a thousand years, or even a million or billion? Or is there a huge gap between Genesis 1:1-2 and verse 3? Or does the use of the word day constitute the limited understanding of Moses so he just made it up? Do you doubt creation?

Do you doubt Genesis Chapter 3 and original sin? Do you doubt that because Adam sinned, his seed was passed down to all men, and that seed was the seed of sin? Do you adhere to the wisdom of man that says everyone is born good and right with God? Do you think sin comes from each of us doing the wrong things, or saying the wrong things? Do you think some people can go through life without sin and therefor not need a Savior? Do you doubt original sin?

Do you doubt the 1o plagues that hit Egypt and the resulting Exodus? Do you doubt that manna came from heaven, or that God write on tables of stone, or that millions of quails came from nowhere to feed the children of Egypt? Do you doubt that God parted the Red Sea, thinking instead that it was some strong wind or an earthquake which is the wisdom of man? Do you doubt Abraham would have sacrificed his son, or that the walls of Jericho fell with a shout, or that Daniel escaped from the lion’s den unharmed?

What part of the Bible do you doubt? There Are So many outrageous stories in there it would be easy to doubt a few of them, wouldn’t it? I mean, after all, what fish could swallow a man? What man could aim a stone that good with a slingshot? What kind of person could kill a thousand others with the jawbone of an ass? There is so much we could doubt.

But when we start to doubt just one little thing, it is easy to doubt a second thing, and a third. It is easy to start questioning the Bible and its precepts and commands, instead deciding to just believe the promises and ignore the laws. I will take all the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 and just ignore the curses because a loving God certainly would not allow any of that to fall on me. A loving God would just take everyone to heaven, wouldn’t He? Who cares if the Bible says many will call Him Lord, Lord, but he will say depart from me. Jesus died so we would all go to heaven, right? I don’t have to do anything or say anything.

Just because God says that a man lying with a man is an abomination doesn’t make it true. God is love. He loves everyone, and we should not be against two people who love each other. Who cares that God says marriage is between a man and a woman? If two people love each other that’s all that counts. Who cares that God says he formed us in our mother’s womb and that he has known us since the day we were conceived? That fetus is not living so a woman should be able to destroy it anytime she wants. Right?

Do you start to see how much doubt there is in the world today, and even in the church? Do you start to see how we have justified holding onto man’s wisdom and putting aside God’s wisdom through His word? After all, if the Bible is not true, I don’t have to be responsible to an almighty God. Even if one part is not true, I can easily start justifying that other parts might be untrue as well. The church is starting to latch onto things that we are told are wrong by the Word of God. We have lost our fear of the truth and replaced it with our own version of truth and out own wisdom.

If Thomas was an infidel (the same word was used here), then are we not the same if we do not believe God’s word is truth? If we don’t believe, are we not unbelievers as well? I challenge you today to examine yourself. Examine your thoughts. Examine what you truly believe? I pray you find yourself believing the truth of God’s Word and not the lies of the enemy, or even of your fellow man. As Paul so wonderfully pout it in Romans 3:4 “Let God be true and every man a liar”

This verse tells us that we are to provide for our families or we are worse than someone who does not believe. Men have become so lax in our society. They produce babies and then just walk away. They are irresponsible and self-centered, having only their own interests in mind. It is a scourge on our society and is at the heart of all the violence we see in our country. It is not just about money and provision in a material way. It is about providing spiritual, emotional and mental guidance as well. If you are lacking in any of these areas, ask God to help you. Be the best father you can be. Lord knows we need good, strong men in our world, and we need Godly fathers even more!

Honoring Widows

1 Timothy 5:3-7

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day..
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

In our society today more and more children are caring for their elderly parents. Because most businesses now do not offer the pensions they used to, seniors are finding it harder to afford living on their own. The cost of living keeps rising and the social security checks just don’t rise as fast. This poses big problems for those who did not do a good job saving up during their lifetime, and that is the majority of our seniors today. Fourteen percent of adults living in someone else’s home are the parents of the homeowner, up from seven percent in 1995.

At the same time, more and more adult children are living with their parents due to various reasons. Lack of jobs, affordability of housing and coping skills are all causing young adults to move back home. And in many cases, grandparents are taking custody of their grandchildren due to a lack of social structure in the home of their children. This is the case with my wife and I. We have our fourteen year old granddaughter living with us because our daughter was in a situation that defied all sensibility and put our granddaughter at risk. We are thrilled to have her and she loves being with us but it does put a strain on our household budget.

I bring all this up because we now live in a society that doesn’t really see its widows. We rarely use that word – at least I hardly ever hear it. It seems there is a negative connotation associated with the word widow and that is so wrong. Women live much longer than men on average so it is very likely we will have a lot of widows around, But the fact that women are aging much better and looking very good well into their 80’s leads us to think of them as still vibrant and able to care for themselves. They just don’t look like widows, if you know what I mean. I know a lot of ladies who are widows that lead very god lives and seem to be doing very well in society. I know they are hurting deep inside, but they do well to rise above that and be active in the community.

In Jesus day, it was a different picture. The woman was a housekeeper and her husband provided everything for her. There was no social security or welfare she could fall back on if her husband died so she was left to fend for herself and it was very difficult. People felt sympathy for them, but most households had enough to do just to keep their own house running smoothly. It was hard for them to give of their sustenance to help someone else out. So, the widows had to trust God to provide for them.

We read a couple stories in the Bible about widows that really show God’s provision and faithfulness. In 1st Kings 17, we can read the story of Elijah coming to the widow of Zarapeth. She was fixing bread from the last bit of meal that she had. Elijah asked for the bread she was making. She felt that once this bread was eaten, her and her son would die because they were out of food. But Elijah blessed the bread and the widow found that her meal never ran out. The widow was provided for.

In 2nd Kings 4 Elisha went to a widow’s house and she was about out of oil. She just had a cruse of it left. Elisha told her to go get all the vessels she could find and bring them to the house. She did that and the cruse filled every vessel she brought into the house so she did not run out. Again, the widow was provided for.

Throughout the Bible we read that God cares for the widows. Psalm 68:5 tells us that God is the Father of the fatherless and the protector of widows. Psalm 146:9 says God upholds the fatherless and the widow. Jeremiah 49:11 says the widows should trust in God. And James 1:27 says it is pure, undefiled religion to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to stay unspotted from the world.

It is fascinating to me that widows are so often mentioned along with the fatherless. And they are both mentioned as ones whom God has a special heart for. What intrigues me is that God is our heavenly Father and he is also the bridegroom waiting for His bride. To me this is not mere word play, but a truth that we should all pay close attention to. The fatherless can be seen as those who do not have Jesus Christ as their Savior, thus never becoming adopted into His family as children and heirs. And the widows can be seen as those who have not married the bridegroom after they have divorced this world. They have not come under is authority and become obedient to Him. These are people in desperate need of attention. They need provision from the word of God to help sustain them and lead them in the right path.

It would be easy for us to overlook these scriptures about widows because the landscape of our society has changed. But God always has a purpose and a vision for the future and He wants us to pay close attention to everything he has to say. We cannot ignore this charge to care for the widows. Whether they be true widows who have lost their husbands, or whether they be spiritual widows who have left this world behind and married the Bride. Both need our attention and our help.

On the other hand, Paul writes if a widow is living in pleasure then she is dead while living. In Paul’s day, this would be looked upon as slandering her husbands name. Today we often see widows go on to remarry or lead very good lives after their husband dies. So once again the picture has changed. But if a person who has died to this world by accepting Christ and lives a life of fun and games that are not spiritual, they face the same fate. They have not come under the arm of a protective Savior, but rather have decided to turn their backs on the one who saved them. This is a very dangerous place to live. Once we turn our backs on this world, we should never return to the ways of the world. Christ calls us to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). We are to have no part of that former life or of a life filled with gaiety. We are to become obedient to Christ and His commandments if we expect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21)

Do you know any widows who are struggling in their faith? This is a call to all of us to provide the truth to them. The bread of life and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. Just as Elijah and Elisha provided for widows in their day, so we should bring the word of God to those who are trying to find their way once they have died to the world. We are not to condemn them, just as Christ did not come to condemn (John 3:17). We are to love them and nurture them, bringing them alongside so they can taste and see that the Lord is good. This is our calling!

Mentoring

1 Timothy 5:1-2

5 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

We all need mentors. Not just in spiritual matters, but in all of ways of life. Elders are any people that are older than us and younger men are just that. The same goes for both men and women. It is an essential element in our growth as human beings and as Christians, as workers and as people of commerce. The world is full of people who can be our mentors and people who we can be mentors to. All we have to do is be open to the possibilities and we will see this all around us.

To illustrate this, I am going to share some of the mentors I have had in my life and also some of the people I have mentored. None of this is being done out of a boastful heart, but rather out of a heart that desires each and every one of you to take on the role of a mentor ads well as finding a mentor, no matter how old or how young. No matter what decade in life we are living, we can still learn new things and take on new challenges. I hope I continue to learn well past 100 and that I also continue to teach just as long.

One of the first mentors I can recall is my Grandpa. He was a rugged man who worked hard and long hours. My fondest memories of him was as a farm hand in Freeport, Maine. He would rise early in the morning to call the cows in and feed them while milking them at the same time. We used to go out early with him and call in the cows when we visited on vacation. “” Come Bawsss. Come Bawsss” was his call. The call would go ringing out through the fields and they slowly but surely would make their way in. they knew his voice.

We had the wonderful honor of helping hook up the milking machines and the undignified honor of pushing the mess out from the trench behind the cows. I remember once pushing so hard I went sliding down the chute with the mess, landing in a pile of manure. It took a while to clean up after that morning. I never wanted to do that chore again, but I learned that was not an option. I was much more careful after that. We also had the hard chore of helping bale the hay. Getting up on the bale wagon was a hot chore as we piled those hay bales as high as we would. We also had the chance to help run the pasteurizing machine and see the m ilk get picked up and go to market.

We often visited during calving season and got to name the calves when we did. This was one of our favorite jobs. The little guys were so cute and we would watch them grow through the years. My brother and I loved to compare how well our cows are doing and how much milk they gave. We also enjoyed the rope swing my Grandpa had extended from high in the rafters down across the barn floor. We would swing down from the hayloft and into the hay piles on a regular basis. Summers and Grandpa’s house were always much anticipated events.

Grandpa also had a lobster boat. Just behind his farm was Casco bay, one of the best lobster fishing bays in all of North America. We would go out on the boat with him and bring in the traps. I can still see the seagulls flying around waiting for the bait to be thrown out. They would call out regularly “Mine, Mine” just like in the movie “Finding Nemo.” Most of the lobsters we caught were already sold, but every once in a while, we would get one to eat that night. I have never been able to duplicate that taste. Fresh lobster is my favorite food!

When he retired from that job, he got married and moved to a little berg near Blue Hill Maine. There he started a big garden and worked on it all the time. We would go down to the seashore and dig fresh clams out of the mud at low tide. We would then bring them back to the house and have them steamed for supper. My oh my, what a feast! Grandpa died with his boots on, taking down a tree in the front yard. My mom told me later that was the way he should have gone as he was always a hard worker.

As I look at his life, I can see the work ethic he instilled within me. Not only him, but my mom as well. My mom had my dad leave her when I was five. She was the church secretary at the Congregational church where we grew up. She worked long, hard hours as she was involved in every aspect of the church, which required some night meetings as well. She raised us three kids alone and did a great job. Later she took a job at Norton Company in the HR department and eventually I landed a job there after wandering through life for a few years. That was a great job that I stayed with until I moved to Iowa 7 years later. Her hard work ethic paved the way for a good career for me.

In lasing on the torch, my kids have also garnered a strong work ethic, as I have become a mentor for them. They work long, hard hours and are faithful to their employers, something they have learned from both me and my wife. She has worked for the same company or a subsidiary in the same building for the last 30 years. And she has worked in a local restaurant for the same amount of time. She is a hard worker as well, instilling this into her children and now our one grandchild that works.

Yes, we are mentors to our children whether we realize it or not. We will instill in them virtues and bad habits as they grown and watch us. They learn from everything we do and go on in life to mimic much of it. Our children saw us working hard and being loyal to our place of work and they have done the same for the most part. Our grandchildren have seen the same and we pray they will have the same drive and ambition.

Spiritual mentors have been many for me and I am not going to point one or the other out at this time. One taught me to worship, one taught me to use my talents, one taught me to study the word, one taught me to rid myself of pride and one taught me to be a leader of men. All of them had different and meaningful impact on my life. I, on the other hand, have not been the spiritual leader I wish I had been. I was good at studying the word for myself, but not very good at letting my children see me doing so. I did not instill; in them a love for God and His word, but instead they saw someone who was inconsistent with the truths he espoused.

You see, I was a negative influence for God in their lives while I was a positive influence for others outside my home. None of my kids are now in church, although they all; confess a belief in God. They will all ask me for prayer when things are going on in their lives, and they will all ask me for advice. I wish I had been a better mentor for my kids through their growing years and realize I can still have that effect on their lives, but not with as much influence as I had in in those formative years. There are still many that I mentor in spiritual things, and I am indeed a disciple at my Pastor’s feet.

The one young man I most admire now is Bob. I met Bob as a teenager, a little wild and reckless, but with a heart for God. He would be around the tent meetings we went to, and would often attend the services during the day when I helped lead worship. Through the years I kept in touch with Bob, encouraging him in the Lord and watching him grown in his own right. Bob is one of the leading tent evangelists in the country right now, on the road 35 weeks out of the year carrying the gospel top the inner cities. I am so proud of what he has become and am humbled that I had just a little hand in that. I now learn a tremendous amount from him every time I am able to be in his services.

In business, I trained many salespeople, and had many trainers. But my very favorite trainer was Larry. He was such a good friend and such a solid influence in my life. I will never forget the many lessons on sales and persistence that he taught me and they have carried on through the years. He taught me to never burn a bridge, to keep good call records, to always follow up quickly, to send thank you cards and to be persistent all the time. We had a great friendship which was recently renewed as he came to visit me at a book signing. I cried when he walked in, so glad to see him after about 20 years apart. We reminisced for a while as he told me lessons, he had learned from me! All the while I thought of him as my mentor, and here he had learned from me as well. It can go both ways!

One of my favorite employees became a mentee of mine. Craig came straight from a factory job, never having an ounce of sales. I could teach him everything Larry taught me and he would eat it up. Craig became a top sales rep with our company and has moved on to be a leader for another company in sales. I like to think I had something to do with his success and am thrilled every time we have a chance to get back together. It is a blessing to know you helped someone start a career and become successful, and now they have moved on to greater things.

These are just a few examples. I could go on for another hundred pages of all the people who have ben mentors to me and who I have mentored. I would like you to give thought to all the people in your life that you have mentored or who have mentored you. If you feel so brave, leave a note in the comments about such people. It is good to acknowledge them and thank them. We owe our life to them in many ways. Seek out mentors and seek out people to mentor.

Jesus told us to make disciples of all men. Isn’t that what mentoring in the faith does? It teaches all men (and women of course) about the disciplines of our faith. Making disciples and mentoring someone in the things of God is the same thing. Let’s all find a way to make this happen, for these were some of Jesus last words to the disciples and to us before he finally arose to heaven to sit with His Father. Wouldn’t His last words seem to be the ones He most wants us to adhere to?

Sparrow Song Ministries Interview

Below is a video I taped with a dear friend of mine, Karla Akins. She has an online ministry called Sparrow Song Ministries and she wanted to interview me about my book, The A.S.K. Principle. Many of you may remember the post series I did on this book back in the early part of 2018. We got together after several tries and this is the result. It was posted on her web site just last week. Enjoy!