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Step Into!, Part 2

From the series The Book of 1 Timothy

What’s your approach to confrontation? Do you avoid it at all costs? Or are you a little overeager to engage in it, almost like you’re looking for a good fight? In this program, Chip’s gonna encourage us to handle conflict in a healthy, God-honoring way. Discover how to disagree well as we continue our series from the book of 1st Timothy.

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Message Transcript

“Do not lay hands upon anyone too quickly and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” You know, when you’re overwhelmed in a job and you just, I mean, it’s just hard to breathe and you can’t do it all? It is the absolute worst time to hire someone, because no matter what you tell yourself, you will settle.

And you’ll hire someone that is a quick fix, you get him in, and here’s what I can tell you. The wrong person in a role, whether it’s in a church, a ministry, or a company, the wrong person is way worse than no one at all.

Then he goes back, “The sins of some people are quite evident, going on before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.”

Timothy, you’ve got to be really careful who you put in leadership. Because here’s the deal, some people you put in leadership, they mess up and everyone knows they mess up.

But some people go to their grave and we don’t find out about the damage or what has happened until later, but it’s devastating. And without mentioning any names, I think you can all think of some of, some of the greatest Christian leaders in our whole generation who, in recent times, revelations about their sexual indiscretions and – that have rocked and in this particular case, not the United States, globally.

And what I can tell you is, for reasons God only knows, I have been in three church ministries in my life. I got to help plant a church, so I guess four. And every one of those three, I followed someone who fell morally. I will tell you something, you can’t fathom or grasp how long the ripples that people who, “I can’t trust God. I can’t believe in God anymore. I believed in that person. If he did that…”

A weak man in a weak moment under the right circumstances beginning with me and everyone in this room and anyone who ever watches this, you can fall. I mean, if David – man, I read the Scriptures, man, if David can fall, who can’t?

And, see, that’s what Paul is trying to help Timothy learn. And so, the coaching nuggets here are, “Maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”
I want you to start thinking about relationships. Start with your wife if you’re married. Close friends. If you have children. Leadership in the church. Relationships in a small group. Work relationships, friendships – I want you to start thinking of: God, is there anyone or anything that You need me to adjust, You need me to be more emotionally intelligent, and to do it without bias?

The response is, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man. Appeal to him as father, to younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters in all purity.”

And what I can say to you is doing that without bias has been a big journey for me. Powerful people intimidate us. Rich, rich people can intimidate you. People that don’t look like you, who don’t act like you, who don’t believe like you, who vote for a different party than you, who have more tattoos than you, whose hair looks differently than you, whose color of their skin is different from you, who comes from a different background than you – all those thing can cause us to unconsciously have a lens or a bias because we have grown up in a world that is different than their world and it takes emotional intelligence, guided by the Spirit of God.

And it goes back to – I don’t know if you know St. Francis’ prayer. It’s such a great prayer. He asks God to, “Grant me to be an agent of Your blessing to people.” And then one of the great lines is, he says, “I ask that I might seek to love rather than to be loved. To understand rather than to be understood.” And empathy is the very first thing that we all need in every problem relationship. It changes everything.

You might jot this in your notes. This has been so helpful. Everyone behaves in a way that makes sense to them. And if you can realize that then you don’t demonize them and, “They are terrible and they are wrong and they have done this.” Now, I may totally disagree, they may be wrong, but it makes sense to them.

From the information they have and the way they were brought up and their belief system and their worldview, doing x, y, or z really makes sense to them. If you can back that up and try to figure out why it makes sense to them and build a bridge of relationship, then there’s hope. But casting grenades at one another, it’s not faring too well.

Here’s what, the coaching I think the Lord gives us through the apostle Paul. Here’s the underlying issue. Circle it if you will: Wisdom. The concept of wisdom, it’s a Hebrew concept. And wisdom isn’t intellect. Wisdom is skill. In fact, in the Old Testament when the word is used of building the Temple, it uses this word for wisdom for the guy that has the ability to do artwork and building and Proverbs uses wisdom to say it’s knowing the right thing to do in the right way for the reason. Wisdom with knowledge and understanding, and how to apply that.

What Paul is trying to say is: This is the wisdom you need in relationships. The underlying question for me and for you is: Am I willing to address the relational challenges in my home, work, and church?

I’m just going to go on record: The average man is not willing to address the relational challenges in your home. You just figure out how to deal with it. Your silo, her silo, the kids will be like that, I guess things will – some other time. I don’t know any man that over some time doesn’t have conflict in communication, conflict in your sex life, conflict with in-laws, conflict with money, and I’ve struggled with all of them. And I can tell you that at different seasons in my life, I didn’t want to face them, so I buried them.

And so, what you learn to do is when there’s something that needs to be addressed, it’s easier to turn on ESPN, it’s easier to drink a couple beers, it’s easier to go in the garage and get a workout. Anything but talk about the issue that really, “Honey, you know what? I went away to this retreat and God spoke to me about our relationship and I have sensed, over time…I’d like to talk about that.”

Or maybe it’s a son that is grown. Maybe it’s someone you haven’t forgiven. Maybe it’s a boss that did you in. Maybe it’s someone in your small group that - I have had pastors tell me, “I’m watching people with twenty years of deep relationship in our church split and, I mean, not talk to each other. I have families in our churches that don’t – younger generation and older generation – are not communicating over all these secondary issues. What you need is wisdom. And God will show you.

The action required is, I call it: Stepping Into. It’s – of all the things that’s hard, I think, for us as men, it’s stepping into relational messy stuff. If you’re older, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Why would my younger son who loves Jesus be so adamantly opposed to my political view of things?” Ask him and seek to understand and really listen.

“Why would, why would my father who loves God and cares about God, how in the world could he vote for so-and-so or support this when all these other issues are combined with it?” Ask him.

I would encourage you to memorize verse 1 and 2 until it’s both in your heart and in your hands of practicing. This is how I’m going to deal with older men. This is how I’m going to deal with younger men. I’m not going to be superior and I’m not going to feel inferior. This is how I’m going to view my brothers. This is how I am going to treat, I’m going to think of the various women in my life that are younger as sisters in Christ.

If you’re going to step into a delicate relational issue, you need to get outside help. It might be an older man, it could be a pastor, it might be a counselor. Just someone that, you know, you know them and whoever it is knows them and…

And then I would say you have to develop a plan and then a time to act.

If you walk out of here going, “You know, I’ve got to address this with one of my kids. I need to address this with a guy I used to work with. I need to address this with that pastor or one of the leaders of that church that we left over x, y, or z.”

Dude, write it down and say, “By this date, I will address that.” Good intentions accomplish nothing. And then when the emotion comes up like, Oh man, I don’t know how to do that, then just admit that. God, I don’t know how to do that. Or, are you ready for this one? At least I’m going to just share. God, I’m afraid to do that. Man, I’m afraid to do that. I mean, what if this – I mean, it’s not good now, but it could be a lot worse, right?

If you are willing, get someone who will help you develop the plan and show you how to do it. There’s a book, I don’t know the author, my son had me read it. it’s called Critical [CRUCIAL] Conversations. It’s very short, but it really talks about: How do you not put off having that conversation that are the most critical? And how to do it in a positive way. Everything from what to do, how to do it, when to do it, in what environment, and how to set it up. Super book.

The unspoken need is to develop personal courage. You need to be emotionally intelligent, but my experience is most of us are fairly smart enough to know what we really need to do. My observation is we don’t have the courage to do it.

I can remember early on the courage to go to marriage counseling, because our marriage was in real trouble. Just recently, I had a situation with someone that is really, really close to me. And I didn’t know how to handle it and I took, you know, I’m a pastor and, gosh, my background is in theology and psychology. I’ve got a few tools in my bag. And I got stuck.

I called a guy from Southern California, I said, “John, I’m really stuck. Could you tell me of someone in my area? He’s got to be really good and really biblical, because I don’t want a bunch of psycho-babble. But I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do.” He said, “Yeah, I’ve got a guy. Man, man.” I drove up to the Milpitas area and sat down with him for an hour, had a couple, three sessions on Zoom.

I’ve got news for you. If I had a compound fracture, I wouldn’t go, “Oh, I’ve got this. I’ve got this.” You know? A real man can handle a compound fracture. If I don’t know how to handle something in a relationship, I’m going to go to a good doctor and ask for help. Can I encourage you? Do whatever it takes.

Here’s how. First, know the truth. Joshua 1:9, some of you know, right? “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you,” right? “…wherever you go.” You don’t have to be afraid.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

I’ve got to know the truth. God has got someone to help me with this. Living the truth is Matthew 7 and it’s a classic passage of, “Do not judge lest you be judged,” and I want to make one point. Be careful that when you are addressing a relational challenge, that you don’t sit in the position of, “I’ve got the truth and I just need to get this person to see the truth.” That’s a non-starter.

What you have is a perspective of the truth that is your lens that has developed over time. In fact, this was such an area of arrogance in my life that God pointed out so painfully in some of my leadership years where I had to admit where I was – it was a failure of leadership.

I unconsciously thought that my perspective was the perspective. And so, I wrote out on a card when I have to talk to someone about something that I think might be hard, I literally have memorized, here’s my first line. “I sense that we need to talk about something and what I would like to share with you is this. I have a perspective. I’m not telling you it’s the truth, I’m not telling you it’s reality. I’m telling you it’s my current perspective of this situation, that I think we need to get on the table and talk about. So, I need to hear because this event happened,” or, “this conversation happened and from my lens, this is the way it looks. Help me understand if that’s accurate or inaccurate.”

And what that does is that gives the person a chance to say, “No, you don’t understand.” And we can disagree. But the moment, if you’re going to talk to someone – you’re right, they are wrong, and they need to get with the program, you might be right. But they, that attitude will kill any opportunity for building a bridge.

And then you have to do it gently, Galatians 6:1 and 2. “Brethren, even if someone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual,” the idea is mature, “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourselves so that you will not be tempted, bear one another’s burdens and therefore fulfill the law of Christ.” We so need each other.

And then finally, just hands on, Proverbs 27:17, in terms of sharing the truth. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In other words, I – when I have gotten around, I have some people in my life that are really good at speaking the truth in love. And especially early on, I want people to like me so much, I was pretty good at speaking about the love, but not so much about the truth.

And then as I matured a little bit, I got pretty good at speaking the truth, but not very much in love. And so, what I found is getting around people that are good at that has helped me get better at it and get more comfortable. And here’s what I can tell you. What you really fear is going to happen that keeps you from doing it, rarely happens. On occasion it does. But it’s the fear of the blowup that will keep you – genuine – we talked about godliness. Genuine maturity, here’s the mark of it.

Ephesians chapter 4:11 to 13 says God gave gifted leaders to the church to equip the saints to do the work of ministry until we all become mature in Christ. And then he says, “Here’s the litmus test of whether you’re mature in Christ.” One is doctrinal and the other is relational.

“As a result, we are no longer to be children tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, by craftiness and deceitful scheming.” In other words, so, if you’re mature, you know the truth versus the lie. “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up into all aspects into Him who is the head.”

And then it talks about the real goal, “By that which every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part that causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Redemption, restoration, reconciliation. That’s what Jesus offers us in our relationships.