READINGOld Testament: Deuteronomy 7:12-16
Psalms: Psalms 95, 31
New Testament: Titus 2:1-15
Gospel: John 1:35-42
Evening Psalms: Psalms 35
“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine…For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” (Titus 2:1-15)
As I reflected on today’s reading from Titus I recalled vivid memories of a management training course I was sent to by Microsoft. It was a week-long residential class that involved simulating a community (24 hours per day). Everyone attending the class came in as a “Bottom,” a “Middle,” or a “Top.” The Tops made the rules and set the goals, and the Middles were responsible for getting the Bottoms to do the work to meet the goals and serve the community. Fundamentally, the setup was designed to create tension and pressures similar to our daily lives at work and at home in a microcosm so that we could experiment, learn, and grow. At the end of the week there was a long session where we reflected and analyzed everything that happened, identified the key events that made a difference, and tried to understand the viewpoints of people in other roles within the system.
One of the things that became fundamentally clear as I went through the program is that at various times in our lives we all play the role of Tops, Middles, and Bottoms. It is also equally clear that no part of an organization can be effective without the others. In the same way, I think that the plan of action outlined in Paul’s letter to Titus is not speaking to husbands or wives, young or elderly, teachers or students, as individual people. Rather, he is speaking to the many parts of each of us and offering guidance for the myriad of roles and situations in which we daily find ourselves.
Similarly, the last line - “Do not let anyone despise you.” Controlling what others feel is not something most of us can manage, but we can take a cue for this from one of my favorite people and quotes: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
Dear Lord, Please give us the courage to honestly embrace the opportunities to serve you in all the roles we play and the grace to accept and embrace the feedback we receive so that we can grow closer to you. Amen.