A Godly Leader{Titus 1:5-9; ESV}
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

For societies to function well there needs to be leadership.  In the animal world we see this reality in the concept of the alpha.  We are reminded of the need of leadership in everything from a well preformed music concert to a winning football team to a successful business.  Without clear and able leadership organization cannot move forward with confidence and unity.

Within the Church Scripture teaches that this leadership is entrusted to the Elders.  Elders are men who are spiritually mature and have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  They are charged with leading their respective church families in the direction God desires them to go and to watch over the doctrine that is taught to that church family.

For a local church body to function well and to carry out the task of making disciples it must have spiritually mature leadership.  Many of the of the problems that church families face can be traced back to a lack of good leadership.

Paul entrusted Titus to find elders to be the spiritual leaders that the different church families on Crete needed.  Since this was so essential for the health and success of these newly formed congregations Paul reminded Titus of the qualifications that he needed watch for in the men he was to chose for eldership.

  1. An Elder must be Loyal:if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.” Paul tells Timothy to pay attention to the man’s family life.  How a man interacts with his family shows how he will interact with others.  One of the most important aspects in this is that he is to be the husband of just one wife.  This means the man is loyal to one woman, he does not have multiple wives or mistresses that he is trying to lead and love.  While divorce doesn’t automatically disqualify a man from being an elder, it certainly is a consideration.  Another important part to consider is how the man is leading his family.  Are his children respectful?  Are they following Jesus?  What example is he providing them?  Yes, children ultimately make their own choices, but the lives of a man’s children, and how he interacts with them, provides insight in how he will lead a church family.  He must be an example worth following.
  2. An Elder must be Self-Controlled:For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain…” An elder is a steward.  He is in charge of leading a portion of God’s family.  This is a huge responsibility, and so he must be a man who is up for the challenge, and that requires that he is self-controlled.  He is to be above the petty vices that control the actions of many people.  He needs to be humble.  This means he properly understands who he is in relationship to God and people.  He needs to be able to control his anger.  While there is a proper time to be angry, far too often, people get upset over minor inconveniences.  Like wise an elder is not to let alcohol be a motivating factor in his life, especially to the point where he doesn’t know when to stop drinking.  Drunkenness is not becoming of a leader, especially a leader of God’s people.  He is to be a peace loving man, not looking to use violence to get his way or to get even.  Finally, an elder is to be content with his life situation, trusting God to provide for his needs.  Nothing strips away trust from people like being taken advantage of through a get rich quick scheme.  An elder must be in control of his actions.
  3. An Elder must be Righteous: “…but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”  It is not enough for an elder to be defined by what he doesn’t do, but he must also be known for what he does do.  He needs to be generous with his money, things, and time.  He must seek to do what is good, and in the process be a blessing to other people.  An elder needs to be actively engaged in the lives of other people so that through his actions they can experience the love of God.  Too often we disengage from the world in an attempt to keep ourselves pure, and in the process we miss out on truly blessing the lives of other people.  An elder must seek to be a blessing to those around him.
  4. An Elder must be a Teacher:He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Teachers are first and foremost students.  They seek the truth through study and instruction.  An elder is a man who desires to be grounded in the truth of God’s word.  From that desire should flow the desire to share that truth with others.  Being an elder isn’t primarily about making decisions, but rather it is about helping people understand God’s will and equipping them to do God’s will.  This also requires defending the truth.  In order to defend the truth a person first must know the truth.  An elder must be committed to the truth in order to prevent false teaching from creeping into his church family.  Knowing and defending the truth is an essential part of an elder’s responsibilities.

For church families to flourish requires strong and godly leadership.  Elders are to provide this type of leadership, but they need to be men who are properly qualified for the responsibility.  A church family can only go as far as the leadership is able to take them, and that is why having the right leaders is so important.  My prayer is for us to seek the right leaders for our church families as we seek to become godly leaders ourselves.

Questions to consider:

  • Why is good leadership so important for the Church?
  • Have you experienced an example when poor leadership crippled a church family’s ministry? What effect did that experience have on you?
  • Why do elders need to be grounded in the truth?
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