Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
What does it mean to be a godly leader? What does it take to rise above the challenges of life so that you exemplify a standard for others to aspire?
The book of Titus was written by Paul the Apostle to his friend, companion and probable convert, Titus. He wrote his letter from Nicopolis in AD 63, after the apostle’s release from his first Roman imprisonment. Previously, Paul had left his friend Timothy in Ephesus and then traveled with Titus to Crete where he intended to reorganize leadership in churches recently established.
The message of the incarnation (the manifestation of God in the flesh), dots the landscape of Titus as Paul reveals the deity of Jesus Christ. The core emphasis for any leadership worth noting is one that is founded in sound doctrine with Jesus at its core.
You might say the need for good established teaching and leadership was a product of the sin and corruption that was rampant in Crete. Look at any society and you’ll find the same conclusions of idolatry and every form of wickedness there seems to be no shortage of trouble. The emphasis Paul was striving to establish was the re-establishing of true godly leadership within the church, a problem that is far more sinister than worldly wickedness.
Leadership that claims to profess the light and yet lives in darkness, makes the darkness even more bleak than it is in the world.
Matthew 6:23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Jesus is counter-cultural
No matter what direction culture goes, if it is secular, it is moving in the same direction. The world moves along a line that is broad and wide, it is an easy path to follow because the only effort needed is to please oneself.
Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”
The world lays claim to many paths that lead to a perceived truth, each different than the other. The hope of the world is that whoever they have placed on their throne will grade on the curve. Comparatively, it’s easy to justify oneself when all you have to do is outperform someone you deem as unworthy. Wordly society determines what is ‘good’ and what is not, if you follow mainstreams notions of goodness, you too might receive their applause.
The life of a believer goes against the tide. The christian deals in absolutes because Jesus was absolute.
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
In Paul’s instruction to Titus, the encouragement was to confront the false ideology that was attempting to infiltrate the church. We are likewise called to confront falsity within our ranks, if we don’t, we become complicit with the error they represent. Deception, gossip, ruining homes, these false teachers were to be exposed for maintaining a motivation bent all for the sake of pleasing themselves.
Titus 1:16 “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.”
How do you know whether a teacher is dealing in falsities?
Hold their teaching up to the Word of God. If they fall short, share with them their error and if they change their ways, they will be all the better for it. We should never listen to the world’s accusations that we are falsely judging, this lie is an attempt at discrediting any notion of truth.
The product of good godly leadership is a fellowship of believers that exemplifies that leadership.
Titus 1:1-5 “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”
Godly leadership not only teaches sound doctrine, they live it as well.
vs. 6-8 “Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”
Every level of society was affected by the corruption of their culture. Titus was exhorted to address everyone, regardless of title or position. Everyone has equal value in God’s Kingdom, everyone needs to know how to live counter-culturally against the pressures to conform.
vs 15 “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”
Do you recognize this encouragement? Paul gave this same encouragement to Timothy in his second letter 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” The Word of God stands as a beacon of light, shining forth, leading those astray back to the only hope worth pursuing.
Overseers have a standard that must exceed that of compromise. Just as Paul encouraged Titus to teach every level of society, so an overseer must be able to manage every area of their life.
1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a trustworthy saying: If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble task. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not dependent on wine, not violent but gentle, peaceable, and free of the love of money.”
These attributes are the ones Jesus exemplified in His ministry. They are reflective of God’s moral law. They address mankind’s humanity and when followed they lead to peace.
It’s not easy adopting a standard of living especially if it is completely contrary to what you knew before you followed Christ. The expectation is not that you master it immediately, the hope is that you will submit to the Spirit’s leading in your life as Christ makes you new in Him.
The more you understand and grow in God’s Word, the more you will recognize a bad teacher when you hear one. If your pastor is compromising his faith for the sake of “harmony”, or as an attempt to build a “seeker-friendly” church that wants to grow, confront him in love, if he doesn’t want to change, bring other godly men with you, such as elders and if he still refuses, then it may be time to look elsewhere.
Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, regard him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
The hope is always restoration. If a teacher is lead by the Spirit, he will hear your concern and you might have to be corrected in your understanding of the Word of God. If you go and privately share your concern with an elder in the church, you might save yourself the embarrassment of mishandling the Word and likewise keep the unity of the faith. Good, honest deliberation is meant to be done in unity, not to be divisive. It is very difficult being a pastor, it is a heavy load they must bear and the more we can strengthen them and support them the better.
Yes, there are bad teachers out there, I occasionally hear about them, but the overwhelming mandate is for you and I to step up and be Christ to the world. If we worry continually about others, we will be limited in our effectiveness today.
The expectations of a good teacher are ones we should aspire to as well. The more we take personal responsibility for ourselves, the more we lead others by example and Christ is glorified…..that is really all that matters.