And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2 Timothy 2:24-26

I am memorizing this passage and the more I think about it, the more I recognize the relevance in my life. Paul is writing to Timothy, the young pastor who he has unofficially adopted as a son. Throughout this book Paul continues to teach and mentor Timothy. Contextually this verse is written specifically to Timothy (most appropriate for pastors and Christian leaders), but also applicable for parents, grandparents and all relationships.

Paul identifies the necessity of servant-hood, the idea that we give ourselves to others, putting others before ourselves, and esteeming others better than ourselves. Without this foundation, his list of exhortation and admonitions cannot work. Leading others requires a servant attitude, a gentle spirit, skill in teaching, and patience. We must be patient with the impatient. Meekness requires restraint on our part. We may have the authority to flex our metaphorical muscles and demand obedience, but sometimes we can temper the law with mercy and grace. It is important for us to be patient with those who don’t respond or change as quickly as we think they should. It is only helpful for us (not others) when we consistently rule with power (meekness=controlled power).

Working with children and teenagers has been difficult. I am an adult, everyday I have to remind myself that the students are children (obvious fact, right?… doesn’t make it any easier). We act differently, think differently, and learn differently. The children often behave in a way that harms their own development and learning (oppose themselves). So do adults. I have to remind myself, and hopefully you will be encouraged to remind yourself that I/we must be patient servants who are skilled in teaching, relationships, and leadership. There is coming a day when the Holy Spirit will illuminate truth. It is our responsibility to model tender hearts and trust in the teaching of the Spirit. We don’t want to jeopardize the work of the Spirit because our actions and methods have created bitter and hard hearts in our spouses, children, students, friends, or whomever we lead. Of course, everyone is responsible for their own decisions and actions, but we can negatively affect others if we strive (fight and quarrel) and become angry rather than serve with gentleness and patience. This admonition by Paul can help us to improve all of our relationships.

Holy Spirit help us to obey these important exhortations and admonitions.