Culture is the bedrock of any thriving organization, and its impact cannot be underestimated. In this blog post, we delve into an often-overlooked source of wisdom for building a powerful culture: values from the book of 1 Timothy 5. Prepare to be inspired as we explore three fundamental values that have withstood the test of time — honor, care, and protection.
AN OVERVIEW OF 1 TIMOTHY 5
There’s a lot of effort, work, and talk about culture within organizations. Peter Drucker has been credited with the statement, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, every day”.
I believe that. I am also amazed how Scripture emphasizes the same… dating almost 2000 years ago.
Consider how the Apostle Paul was working to shape culture in the early church through the pastor’s leadership and three clear community values: honor, care, and protection.
“Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2, NLT
The teachings of the church aim to create a model society and a subculture that often differentiates itself from common attitudes and behaviors found in the world. The local body of believers is called in many ways, to a countercultural life.
The church is not perfect by any means because it envelopes believers and seekers who are still in the process of being transformed into the image of Christ.
In the Scripture referenced earlier, we are instructed to honor one another. To be courteous and respectful to our fellow man. I resonate with this teaching. It not only sounds right and feels right, it has been modeled for me since birth. I saw it on display at home and in the church. Not always but in the majority.
The exhortation does not suggest you will never encounter a difference of opinion with someone. It does not suggest that you cannot or should not hold another accountable for bad behavior or poor performance. But it certainly implies that we must recognize the intrinsic value of every human being in times of harmony and in points of disagreement and correction. In other words, separating one’s value from their behavior or opinion is to honor them while working through what otherwise may be a difficult situation.
Honor in today’s world…
I find it interesting that the author, the Apostle Paul, would find it necessary to teach this particular virtue to the church. You would think it would have gone without saying, but apparently not.
You would think people should be able to walk outside their homes and expect to experience a kind and respectful world. But this is not always the case.
In my younger days, I did a short stint as a police chaplain in one city east of Los Angeles. During that time, I was exposed to a less friendly side of life. Certain neighborhoods operated more like spiderwebs than communities. If you entered at the wrong time, it could cost you your life. Families were broken. Violence was commonplace. The whole scene: rape, murder, battery, theft, drugs, and just nonsense spilled out in the form of extreme lust and hate.
So let’s read these first two verses again, reading them slowly, and let’s see if you can hear the tenderness in the words. This is the spirit of the Christian and the Christian leader.
Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. 1 Timothy 5:3-4, NLT
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. 1 Timothy 5:8, NLT
Family is the core of society. The church is a subset of society. Organizations are a subset of society. Governments are a subset of society. Of all of these, the family is designed by God to care for one another from the cradle to the grave.
For those who lose a loved one, a husband, a wife, or a parent, but have family, they become the responsibility of the family. Not society. Not the church.
People who end up alone in life are to be adopted, embraced, and cared for by their extended family but if there is none to be found, then by the church. Whether widowed, widower, or orphan. The church has the means and connections to assist and care for these people.
Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.18 For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”
Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others. 1 Timothy 5:17-20, NLT
Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. 1 Timothy 5:22a, NLT
Diligent leaders work consistently hard. They learn, encourage, correct, and empower. They are not in it for money. If they are, they’re not the diligent leaders being referenced here.
Something I have noticed about diligent leaders in my life is that they learn to be very selective about which churches and organizations they are willing to work for, serve, and lead. Diligent leaders go where good leadership is appreciated. Not because it is easier but because leadership is a team sport. If everything depends upon the leader, failure is in the wings. Cooperation is the oil that keeps the organization running smoothly. Organizations that do not appreciate diligent leadership tend to supervise their leaders, criticize them almost every turn, and suspect them of poor motives and behaviors. It’s a dark spirit really.
Protect Diligent Leaders
Protecting diligent leaders protects the organization. It starts by paying them well. Leadership is a war and it’s difficult to fight two wars at the same time – leading the organization and providing for their family. When you pay them well, it removes the temptation to seek side hustles, to be in two places at the same time, to be tempted to go do something that better provides for their family. Seems like common sense to me but apparently, it’s not.
Protecting diligent leaders also means protecting them from false accusations. You can do that in a lot of different ways. In general, you want to distance them from anything where they can be falsely accused. Some examples we can offer here are to give them authority to direct funds through a process versus having direct access to money. Another is to covenant with the leader about policies of time and space alone with a person of the opposite sex. Make sure they have enough rest time and vacation time. When you put these kinds of policies in place, then you are able to ignore the accusation coming from one individual who simply has a score to settle. You can require two or three witnesses before investigating a matter.
Finally, hiring for leadership positions should be an exhaustive process. It should require time, research, and multiple layers of decision-makers especially if hiring from outside the organization. If you hire from the inside, you should be interviewing and evaluating all the time. This would be the ideal situation.
Honor, Care, Protection. Three strong values creating a healthy culture.
Explore More Content
If you’ve enjoyed this Monday Moment blog about the three culture-building values, perhaps this other blog about shaping culture, Shaping Culture: The Winning Edge, would be something up your alley. Or listen to the podcast version of this blog, Episode 77: Timeless Wisdom For Diligent Leaders – Part 5 of 6 – Three Culture-Building Values. Make sure to check them out!
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