Qualifications of Church Leaders
1. Recognize the context: Literary Context- The recipient of this letter, Titus, is identified explicitly in verse 4. Paul acknowledged the faith he and Titus shared in common by using a familial analogy. Paul considered Titus a true son in the faith, exactly like Timothy (1 Tim. 1:2).
This familial mentoring relationship was essential for Paul. It was how the Christian faith was passed on to others, and it was how individuals matured in the faith. Discipleship through relationships is how Christianity has continued throughout the centuries.
A practical note:
When reading and interpreting Scripture, we should ask the question, “what does this passage reveal about humanity (in its fallen or redeemed state)?” Other questions include, is there an example to follow? Is there a principle to apply?
By way of application, we should consider Paul’s relationship with Titus and others. Do we have a “Paul” who can help us mature in our relationship with God? Do we have a “Titus” we can encourage in the faith? It can be challenging at various ages and stages of life, but these are two essential relationships vital to maturing faith in the body of Christ.
2. Read the Scripture: Titus 1:1-4
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.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
In verse 5, we learn about Titus’ mission on Crete. Paul had left him there to finish what was incomplete, namely the appointment of elders for church oversight in each town. Paul’s model for congregational leadership was most likely shaped by his Jewish experience of synagogue life, in which older men served as elders and performed various necessary tasks.
Verses 6-9 provide a list of essential characteristics for these appointed leaders. To begin with, they must be blameless or “above reproach.” Here, Paul was not stating that a person must have arrived at a state of perfection to be a leader. Instead, these appointees should reflect the godly character and maturity evidenced by someone impacted by the gospel message Paul and Titus have proclaimed. Adherence to the list of virtues in verses 6-9 indicated these appointees were surrendering to and participating with the work of Spirit in their life.
These leaders must be faithful to their spouses. Additionally, their children shouldn’t be wild and disobedient. This statement should not be understood to mean parents are responsible for their child's salvation. Rather, their older children should demonstrate faithfulness and respect for their parents.
In verse 7, Paul repeated the notion of being blameless. He then compared the importance of supervising God’s household with leading one's family household.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully consider these characteristics of leadership. Are you considering a path of church leadership? How is your household?
Today, pray for the leaders in your church community and other church leaders you know. Pray for their families. It can be difficult for families of church leaders.
To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
What specific actions can you take this week to show love and appreciation for your church leaders and their families?