Listen to the Old Man

Philemon 8-9

“Dave, more than a billion dollars was at stake. Engineers and bosses from France, Britain, Germany, and the U.S. were fighting over the details in the contract to build the tunnels underneath the inland waterway that would divert the commercial truck traffic off the above-ground Interstate to reach their port of entry. I’ve never seen such vehement name-calling and rejection of the other side. Finally, after a few days, I couldn’t take it. I stood and for twenty minutes challenged them to stop acting like children and get down to business so that safe, effective tunnels could be built. They did settle down to negotiate, but then the bosses on both sides rejected the proposal our arbitration had worked for. I thought all that work was in vain, but then three weeks later I got a call, “The parties have accepted your committee’s proposal.’”

The experienced engineer and consultant who stood up in that meeting is now in his eighties and still a world-class adviser on how to dig tunnels. I’ve learned that it’s wise to listen to the old man or the old woman, especially if they have years of success and experience to back up their counsel. 

The Apostle Paul had heavenly authority to simply command believers to do what he said, but with his friend Philemon he didn’t use this authority. 

“Therefore, although I could have great boldness to command you to do what you ought to do, I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love. That’s right! It’s me—an old man and now also a prisoner of the Messiah Jesus.“ 

We can get others to obey us doubling down on our positions of power, but if we’re after obedience that flows from the heart, it’s better to take the humble position and advise rather than command.

As I took another bite of the delicious crab cake slider, I had one more question for my old friend. “How are the tunnels holding up?” “They’re beautiful and the trucks have moved safely underground for years.”

LORD, help me as an older man not to be resentful that sometimes those who are younger don’t listen when I’m trying to give counsel. Help me learn from Paul and appeal to others based not upon a position of power and pride, but from a place of humility, servanthood, and love.  

For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!