Sometimes on Sunday morning, we don’t have the time to study everything quite as deeply as we might like. In our study of Titus 1, we now have time focus on many of the qualifications of elders we couldn’t address on Sunday. Be sure to listen to the sermon so that you get a full picture of this important chapter of scripture! Many of the qualifications listed in Titus 1 also show up in 1st Timothy 3. This correlation is informative. The similarities tell us that these leadership standards or qualifications do not change city-to-city or decade-to-decade. They applied to Christians on the island of Crete as well as in the city of Ephesus. So, whether in the Middle East or in the Midwest, the Church needs godly, qualified leaders to shepherd the body and to teach sound doctrine.
For the record, I am having the same problem with this blog that I had on Sunday, namely that there is way too much to say on this subject, but here goes!
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. Titus 1:6 (ESV)
I covered what it means to live above reproach and the husband of one wife in my message Sunday. If you missed it, you can listen to now!
Let’s turn our attention now to the last half of verse 6.
1. His children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
This verse does not mean that a man has to have at least two kids (children being plural) to be considered for eldership. It also does not mean that his children must be saved at birth. Common sense tells us it must mean more than just that. It is hard to imagine Paul is saying a man must have children to be an elder and that he must wait until all His kids become followers of Christ before he can serve as an elder. If these were qualifications for an elder, then Jesus, the Apostle Paul himself, Timothy, and potentially many disciples would be qualified for elder!
Now, it does stands to reason that if a man cannot lead his own children to Christ, he may also have difficulty leading those outside his home to Jesus. There is a credibility issue here as well. But, it is not altogether clear that Paul is saying that a man’s children must be saved and living for Jesus. I know it sounds heretical, doesn’t it?
Even the best Christian father can’t guarantee their children will follow Christ, but a godly dad must point his kids to Jesus and maintain discipline in his home. He should reflect Jesus Christ to his wife and kids. His children may come to faith at age 5 or 15, but the influence of a Godly father should be seen early in the life of his kids.
The word translated “believers” can also be translated “faithful, trustworthy, or dutiful.” The contrast then may not be between believing and unbelieving children, but between obedient respectful children and wild and disobedient children. The remainder of verse 6 seems to support this.
his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. Titus 1:6 (ESV)
Children’s should not be characterized by disobedience, recklessness, and rebellion. They are not to partake in wild living, sexual immorality, or substance abuse. Rather, they are to honor their father and mother and live obedient and respectful lives.
Ministry in the home is the proving ground for ministry outside of the home. Paul emphasized this same principle to Timothy.
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 1 Timothy 3:4–5 (ESV)
Now if all we had was 1 Timothy 3:4-5, we might conclude that the only requirement pertaining to the children of a prospective elder would be to have his children under control. But because Titus adds, his “children are believers” we must pay this text more attention. I will, however, let you wrestle with the interpretation.
SPECIAL NOTE: A potential elder should make his family his primary ministry. He must lead his wife and kids to know and love Christ. He must ensure they are in a healthy place before entering into vocational Christian work, whether the pastorate, the mission field, or some other venue of service. The physical, emotional, and psychological needs of one’s wife and kids cannot be ignored. The demands of ministry will only exacerbate problems that already exist.
Verse 7 describes an overseer as God’s steward. I will not spend time on this blog covering this, but it is worth additional study. Here are the remaining qualifications in Titus chapter 1. I will address them as concisely as I can.
2. He must not be arrogant (New American Standard Bible– “self-willed”)
This is the opposite of being gentle. It reflects a headstrong, independent spirit. He believes he is the repository of all truth. He is not a team player. An arrogant pastor will not listen to others. He is intent on being right and getting his own way. Leadership is not a dictatorship.
3. Not quick-tempered – Why? Harrison’s Postulate states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.” That’s why! If an elder is quick tempered he will soon find himself in a fight, for criticism is sure to come.
James 1:19–20 (ESV) — 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
4. Not a drunkard (from the New American Standard– “Not addicted to wine…”) This one is pretty self-explanatory.
5. Not violent (New American Standard– “Not pugnacious”)
An elder must not go out looking for a fight. He should be a peacemaker, not a trouble-maker.
6. Not greedy for gain (New American Standard– “Not fond of sordid gain”)
Whether it be money, prestige, power, or promotion.
Unfortunately, the ministry has been used by some to get rich. Most pastors have nothing to worry about here, but some men have peddled God’s word to line their pockets. Elders should not enter into ministry for money. (1 Peter 5:2)
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly…
1 Peter 5:2 (ESV)
7. Hospitable (Literally, “loving the stranger.” )This was extremely important in the early church (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 3 John 5—8). Even today, hospitality is a great help to the fellowship of a local church.”
8. A lover of good (NASB – “loving what is good”)
A good man has a good heart and he loves good things.
9. Self Controlled. (NASB– “Sensible”)
Temperate, to behave in a righteous sensible manner. Moderate in one’s behavior.
10. Upright (NASB– “Just”) Righteous, in accordance with what God requires.
He should be a man of his word, a man of integrity. He practices what he preaches. His lives righteously and uprightly.
11. Holy (NASB– “Devout”)
The idea here is that he lives above reproach. He lives an unstained life. He is holy because God is holy. (c.f. 1 Peter 1:16).
12. Disciplined. The NASB translates this as “self-controlled.”
Proverbs 25:28 (ESV) — 28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Self controlled is the meaning here and it applies to a man’s appetites and actions. A pastor must discipline his time so that he gets his work done. He must discipline his desires, especially when well-meaning members try to stuff him with lasagna and cannoli! He must keep his mind and body under control, as he yields to the Holy Spirit’s control.
DUTIES OF ELDERS
In addition to possessing the character of Christ, he must also be a man of the Word.
- Hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught (NAS-Holding fast the Faithful Word in accordance with the teaching)
Philippians 2:16 (ESV) — 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Because the Word is faithful and trustworthy, those who teach and preach it should also be faithful and trustworthy. ”
- Give instruction in sound doctrine (NAS- Able to exhort in sound doctrine)
Elders are to teach and preach in accordance with sound doctrine or the truth as laid out in Scripture. He must be faithful to the text and seek to communicate the intended meaning. It must be consistent with all of Scripture and promote spiritual growth. Through his instruction the body is built up and equipped for service, and inspired to obey.
- Rebuke those who contradict it (NAS – Refute those who contradict)
1:11. They must be silenced. No doubt Titus’ method of silencing was to be the same as Timothy’s: (cf. 1Tim. 1:3-4; 2Tim. 3:5).
1:13 Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. The ultimate goal of discipline should be to recover the one who is in error (Gal. 6:1; 2 Thes. 3:14-15).
The Apostle Paul tells us in 1st Timothy chapter 3:1.
… If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
Aspiring to eldership is a noble task, but it is not an easy task. James warns us.
James 3:1 (ESV) — 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
I love the words, “If anyone.” For it means that leadership in the church is not limited to a select few spiritual giants but to anyone who meets the qualifications laid out in Scripture.
SUMMARY: All these traits and qualities are stated as present realities. If we really believe in Grace, then we should not be asking prospective elders, is there some ugly sin somewhere in your past, (if you go back far enough you will find dirt on almost everyone) but rather, are you living (Present tense) in such away as to bring glory and honor to Christ. We evaluate prospective future leaders not on past failure but on their present walk with Christ, paying close attention to what their entire Christian life says about them.
May God raise up more godly men who aspire to oversee God church here at NewLife.