Thursday, September 29, 2005

Proverbs 29:21 Bring The Up Gently

Proverbs 29:21
He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at length.

Virtually every commentary I have takes this verse negatively and says one should not bring his servant up delicately, lest he refuse to do the hard things he needs to do in his work. However, I wonder if this isn't because all my commentaries are from a different era when slavery was more commonly practiced. It seems to me that God's desire is to bring us up to be his sons. True, a person must maintain formal boundaries between employer and employee or we lose the ability to lead. But there is a movement today toward "servant-leadership" where the emphasis is not on driving people but on winning them to our hearts so they follow.

The types might be different today than they are in the passage. We do not have servant/slaves born and raised under us. But there are still the positions of leadership and submission. We may not seek to be in the position of "father" over others, but we do want to have those who serve under us in the ministry to have hearts knit with ours. 

So the lesson of the verse is to seek the heart of those you lead. 
§ Much better to have them as a son than a slave. 
§ Much better to have them invested in the same cause than to serve out of constraint. 

O Lord let me be that kind of leader.