TITUS 1:1-9 (NIV – UK)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness – 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour,
4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Appointing elders who love what is good
5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Paul has left Titus in Crete to appoint church elders, and here Paul gives a list of the qualities that a church elder must possess: blameless, faithful to their spouse, believing children, not overbearing, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain – but instead hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined, and lastly hold ‘firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it’ (v. 9).
It’s a long list, with some quite specific qualities that we’d want of church leaders – but we’d be mistaken if these qualities were solely desirable for church leaders. The church in Crete was young – it was just getting established – and was probably relatively immature in the faith. The reason Paul lists these qualities of the church leader, therefore, is because one vital thing that the church there needed was for the Christian life to be modelled to them. What does it look like to be a follower of Jesus? It is leadership by example – in the hope that many would follow that example.
That means, of course, that these qualities are desirable for every Christian – hopefully in our churches today we can look to our leaders for good examples and displays of these qualities (although we can be sure that some display them better than others). But what is important is that all followers of Jesus seek holiness and goodness in these areas of our lives – we would do feel to study and take note of them – and maybe through that we might be a shining light and example of goodness to others.
Question: Can you think of any church leaders who set a good example of Christian living? Has this helped you in any way?