Is it just me, or are we are a culture seeming to be locked into immaturity? It seems to be evident all around us like the driver that blows a cork because there was an accident. I watched a guy throw a temper tantrum in Costco checkout because he did not have a tax free account on file. I am sure that you could add your own observations. This is one area where followers of Jesus can make a difference simply by acting mature.
I was asking myself this same question as I dug into the reign of Rehoboam. If the name sounds familiar, it is because he was King Solomon’s son. The most familiar account from his life happened during his inauguration as Israel’s new king. He was approached by his constituents with a request to ease the governmental burdens upon them. What started with King David, forced labor, was significantly expanded under King Solomon’s multitude of projects at the expense of the common people. What unfolds next starts off great then goes south fast. Rehoboam asks Solomon’s advisors what he should do, but then rejects their advice when they side with the people. He then turns to his peers who recommend that he remind the people who is in charge. This account left me thinking this is pretty immature way to respond. Yet he follows his peer’s advice and fulfills the prophecy that Israel would be divided. What led to my title is a little known fact about King Rehoboam, he was 41 years old!
Let me share a few insights from my time studying what is recorded about Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. First, work for finding resolution and avoid giving ultimatums. Rehoboam figuratively slams the door shut to what appears to be an honest request. The people are asking for help from the heavy burden they have been carrying. His response of telling the people that He is the king and he is going to be harder than his father is the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire. Yes, and things exploded. I should add that there may have been some political maneuverings behind the people’s request. Yet, the best response is to meet with them and try to work out a way to resolve the issues. Believe it or not the best way to do this is with a face to face conversation. Trust me, do not text, do not email, do not mail a letter and only call if there is no other way to meet face to face in a timely manner.
Second, listen to the request. This involves more than just understanding the words. It is a need to understand the issue from their perspective. We need to put ourselves in “their shoes.” You will be surprised the difference that it makes in resolving conflict. There are many times that we are guilty of saying the wrong thing, the wrong way and at the wrong time. It is easy to do when we are frustrated or upset. I have found that treating others the way that I want to be treated is a very powerful help in working through differences.
There is much more that we could say, but let me leave you with this thought. Putting maturing into practicing takes self control. It take a mature person to control their emotions and work towards a solution. This is one area that followers of Jesus can be a testimony to others. I cannot change others, but I can change myself. So for those of us that belong to Jesus, it is time to grow up!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson