Rules for Conversations


1 Timothy 5:1-2

Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.


Timothy was being instructed as the spiritual leader in the way in which he was to have conversations with people in his congregation. Obviously, there would be those who would not always agree with him. Therefore, he was to show respect for his elders. The older men may have been a minister, or an overseer.

Timothy may have struggled with things that he was being told by those who were his supervisors. Even if he didn’t agree with them, he was to speak and respect these individuals as if he were speaking to his father.

Younger people within the life of the church were also to be shown respect. Just imagine that these were your brothers, for this is the family of God. Older women were to be treated as mothers, and younger women, as if they were sisters. The final statement, “with absolute purity” means a great deal regarding the way in which he was to see his relationship with younger women in the church. There should be no use of power or abuse, but rather the respect that would be shown to a sibling. This includes the protection of a sister from others that may want to show her harm.

Always, there was to be propriety in conversation, which would be uplifting to all those involved.


Civility in conversation has taken a hit during this era of social media. It’s far too easy to dehumanize the individual on the other side of the screen. The reminder to Timothy is also a reminder to us. Each individual with whom we are having conversations, and sometimes difficult ones at that, is to be viewed as a member of the family. Protecting the family is vitally important. Unfortunately, we often hurt one another with unkind words.

Taking this practical advice to mind we can think about the ways in which we converse with one another. It may be helpful to imagine the person on the other side of a social media conversation, as a real, live person. What would we really say to them if they were a member of the family?

I’ll have to confess that there have been times in life when I have not always agreed with those who were in authority. Now, I question whether I have always been kind. I have learned throughout life that there is always more to a story than meets the eye. It’s so easy to quickly judge those who have to make the difficult decisions without knowing the full truth. Usually they will not disclose all the information because they are being kind and generous, not wanting to hurt those who have been involved. They silently take all that is thrown their direction for the sake of the kingdom. If that is the case, then we need to give them the respect of a beloved father.

Conversation is often about the protection of others. Not everything that pops into our minds needs to be verbalized in a conversation. Respect, and a desire for good should undergird our conversations. If the desired outcome is retribution, then everyone in the situation will be hurt, even the one making the accusations. But, if we go into conversation with an attitude of support and protection for the family members, the result will be much different. There may actually be the possibility of resolution.

Conversations are invaluable to life. We need to be reaching out and engaging with our sisters and brothers in the church, and with the world around us. Sometimes I wonder whether we are losing the art of conversation and listening. If, however, we take conversation, whether on social media, face to face, or via other forms of media, seriously, we will see transformation in our relationships. This can be God glorifying.


Lord, may my conversations be seasoned by your grace. Amen.


  1. Thank you Carla! This has been one necessary reminder! God bless you and your ministry!


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