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Respecting leaders (1 Timothy 6:2)

If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved. Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:2)

An exercise I've often done with youth ministry teams is to divide them in half and have one half list all the benefits of being part of a team while the other half lists all the disadvantages. I then have them present their points and argue with each other!

Invariably, the half that presents the disadvantages, mentions the frustration of working with other team members who say things they may not agree with or act in ways that annoy them. Of course, this frustration is often heightened when directed toward the team leader.  

If you're reading this there is a very good chance that you're a serving on a ministry team, perhaps in a role of leadership and as such are accountable to a team leader. If this is the case you may be able to identify with this sense of frustration. At times your leader will make decisions you'll disagree with. At times there may be personality clashes, and at other times they may offer correction which you feel is unjustified or unfair.

When we experience any of these things, what should our response be?

In the previous post, Paul instructed slaves to be respectful to their masters in order to not harm the witness of the church. We saw that, for us, that means we show respect to unbelievers who have authority over us such as teachers, coaches and employers.

In this next verse, Paul addresses the issue of how slaves relate to their masters if their master is a believer. There seems to have been an attitude among some slaves that because they were Christian brothers and equals under Christ with their master, they no longer needed not show them the same respect.

To these people and in these situations, the response of the slave towards the master must be the same: show respect.

Equally, your responsibility to those who lead you within the church and within your ministry teams should be the same: respect.

This respect is based upon the firm conviction that your leader(s) is called by God to lead your team. If ever you stop believing this then you should quietly step down from the team. 

But if you're convinced of their call, but in disagreement with them, what does it then mean to show respect?

Years ago, I talked with an older man whom I worked alongside on our Youth Oversight Team. Once he said to me, "Murray if we are having a team meeting and I disagree with a decision you are making, I will tell you so and why. But you need to know that once we leave the room I am 100% behind you!" 

Now that is respect! Respect is not, "I'll be a 'yes-person' for every decision you make." Respect for a leader means at times we'll express our viewpoint but at the end of the day, we will acknowledge their calling and support them fully. 

When you learn to follow with this attitude, you'll have taken a big step forward in becoming an effective leader whom God uses. 

Reflection:

What is my attitude to my team leader when they make decisions I disagree with? Do I respect them and their calling, or undermine their leadership and harbour resentment?