Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and [yet] had condemned Job. Now because they [were] years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that [there was] no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused. … “Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.'” – Job 32:2-5, 10 (NKJV)
When we think of Job, we think of the man the book was named after: the sufferer who patiently insisted that he was not a sinner. There are several other characters in the book who are just as interesting, however. One being the young man name Elihu who understood what all the others didn’t seem to get: God first above everything. According to the book of Job, Elihu had been listening to all the conversations that have been going on and he is not ok with what’s happening. He’s upset at Job because he’s trying to justify his own righteousness instead of God’s (v. 2), and he’s upset with Job’s friends because they keep trying to be right even when they can’t find any proof their ideas are true (v. 3).
I can relate to this frustration. I feel like I’ve been in so many situations where the people who were making decisions were the ones that simply wanted to do it like it always been done. Never mind that it stopped working (or never worked), or that there may have been changes since then. In those times, I knew that I could make a difference, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Sometimes, I said nothing and fumed in my mind. Sometimes, I opened my mouth and probably handled it badly. How I wish I could have had the wisdom of Elihu!
Elihu decides to step in and remind them of the greatness and, more importantly, the sovereignty of God. What Elihu says is good stuff, but how he said it may be even more important. If you are feeling frustrated with people in your life who don’t seem to be getting things right, either older people or simply people in authority, Elihu models the appropriate response.
When we hear others saying things that we feel aren’t beneficial, we often shut down and just start trying to push out our ideas (v. 7). Listening, however, is vital not only to relationship building with the others, but to double check your own ideas. Being young means missing out on one vital component: experience. Older people have it, and it’s very wise to make sure that you’re listening to them to make sure you understand their perspective. It doesn’t make their perspective right, but if you don’t take the time to listen to it, you are make it more difficult for them to listen to you and increasing the chance that your perspective is incomplete.
- Acknowledge that All Wise Ideas or Perspectives are from God
Elihu knew that age was only one indicator of good ideas. He also knew that no matter who you were or how old that all good ideas came from the Lord (v.8- 9). You need to develop that same trust. Trust that God has put you where you are for a reason and that your ideas are relevant to what God needs accomplished. Don’t get arrogant and assume that you’re better than the previous people; you aren’t! Keep humility close and remember the Source.
- Be Confident in Your Ideas
Once you’ve listened and acknowledged God, you can move forward with confidence in your ideas (v. 10). Think through things before speaking and put them out there with passion. You will still need to listen to the others and maybe even modify your thoughts based on what they say. Remember, experience is a teacher you haven’t had yet, so be wise and be willing to change if you run up against new ideas. The one thing you shouldn’t do is feel like you don’t have a right to speak. You do, because of who God made you to be and who you are becoming by humbly walking with Him. Apostle Paul gives his protégé similar advice in 2 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Live what you believe and be confident. God is with you.