I Told You Before
2 Corinthians 13:2
“I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:”
In the verse above, you can see the Apostle Paul becoming a bit frustrated with these people. He said, “I told you before…” In other words, he was saying that he had told them but they didn’t listen. He probably felt as if he was wasting his time on these people because they were not doing what he had previously told them. He concluded that the next time he came that he would not “spare” in his attempt to correct the problems of this church.
One of the most frustrating things as a leader is to tell someone multiple times the same thing, and yet they don’t get the message. As a boy, I can remember my parents telling me that they told me what to do before and that their message hadn’t changed even though I came back the second time. There came a point when my parents told me not to come back with the same question or else the next time they would confirm the message with a spanking. Though some may think this was cruel, this was the only way to get a young boy to listen and follow the instructions that were given to him. Several lessons that can be taught from this passage that can help the leader and the follower.
First, are you listening? If you are tired of leadership repeating what they are saying, then you must ask yourself if you are listening. I am not talking about hearing what they are saying, but when I say listening, I am talking about doing what they say. It is not enough to hear what spiritual leaders are telling you, but a person who truly listens follows the advice given. The true listener doesn’t just hear what is said, but they implement what is taught. It would change every believer’s life if they will apply what they have been taught from the pulpit and Sunday school class.
Second, be patient with people. Paul said that this was the third time he came to them. You can’t be frustrated with people because they didn’t do something the first time. You must learn to be patient with people as they grow if you want to make a life-long impact on their life. You will never make an impact on others if you are impatient and give up on them after the first time of teaching them something.
Third, don’t be afraid to be repetitious. Repetition is the key to teaching. If you told someone what to do the first time, tell them exactly the same way again. It is hearing the same truth repetitiously that helps truth to sink in and become engrained in someone’s spiritual character. The lack of repetitious teaching of truth is what produces worldliness and shallow believers.
Fourth, don’t waste your time on those who don’t want to hear. You must be careful about wasting time on people who have been told many times. If they don’t make changes, they won’t change when you have told them the same thing for the fourth or fifth time. My experience is to tell people like this that your advice hasn’t changed and that you can’t help them until they start doing what you told them the first time. The directness of this type of counsel could motivate a person who isn’t listening to listen. Always remember that some people will waste your time and take you away from those whom you could help. Don’t be afraid to help someone else if a person won’t follow what you are telling them to do.