Look at Titus. We’ve titled the series, Planted, together because Titus is written by the Apostle Paul to Titus, planting a church in Crete with the desire of seeing healthy churches multiply throughout the known world, and that is exactly what we are. We are a church plant in an area of the world that needs churches. We think about church plants and one of the desires of our heart is we want to be healthy. We’re a part of a church planting network and wanting to see churches throughout this valley planted and we think about churches and what God desires. We want to be a healthy church and we’re moving in that direction.
What God has done at ABC, it’s been a beautiful thing to see God has grown our congregation from just a living room moving throughout this area to the facility we have now. I think one of the biggest obstacles you have in our area when you plant a church is getting a facility to meet. Here we are in a permanent location, just a wonderful thing God is doing here. It’s a beautiful thing to see how God’s working. I think beginning a healthy church is a great adventure and maintaining that is also a wonderful thing. Being able to put out a target out there of how to walk and build healthy churches is important. I think the Book of Titus is written to Titus as he went to the area of Crete in order to see a healthy church established. That’s what we’re learning together in this series.
I think it’s important for us to know a church is not a church without a mission to fulfill. We’re just a gathering otherwise. But before the church is any sort of institutional way of thinking, the church is a movement. God created the church to be a movement. It’s an organism because it has life. God calls us to be life in this world, to be light in this world, to make a difference. So God created the church to be a movement built on him. We shared last week a little bit about what God’s desire is for the church. We don’t dictate what the purpose of the church is. God created the church and the reason He created the church is the two greats, the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
The Great Commission’s in Matthew chapter 28 verse 19 and 20, “Go in the world and make disciples.” God’s about multiplication. What we produce needs to reproduce. God wants to impact your life to then transform the lives of others. We say the purpose of our church very simplistically for you to experience a transformation in Jesus that transforms your relationships for Jesus. God created you to know Him and enjoy Him for all of eternity. You exist in relation to God. God made you in His image. God wants to enjoy that relationship for which you were created in Him. It’s interesting, in our society today we tell people what to do. We really quit telling people why to do it because we don’t like to talk about God any more. We consider that a taboo thing.
But the most important truth that you consider is why you were made. Why did God create you? The church is created to put that in the forefront of our minds, to understand that God created you with worth, value, and meaning and that’s discovered in Him in relationship to Him and to be that light in this world so other people can discover and walk in relationship with Him too. The Great Commission and the Great Commandment. The Great Commission, make disciples. The Great Commandment, love God and love others. It’s relational. When Jesus is asked the two most important commands that we could obey, he’s in a religious society and this religious group of people are just waiting for the commandments to write down.
Jesus’ statement is all about relationship. Love God, love others. Which makes the church the basis for which we exist is about a movement experienced relationally as Jesus works in our lives. God commissions the church to be that light unto the world to proclaim the glory of His name, that we could benefit from that. When you study our area of the world, how important it is for you to belong to a church. Look, if you don’t count ABC as your home church and you don’t think that this will become your church, I just want to encourage you to be a part of a church. You can’t make a difference everywhere, but you can make a difference somewhere. To find a community to belong to and let God use that to multiply, our desire isn’t about our kingdom. Our desire is about His kingdom.
Our hope since we started ABC isn’t just to build this ginormous church to exist in this valley, but to see this church spread throughout the valley and let God use us to multiply His work in this area. If you plant a church in Utah County, if you plant a church every week of 200 people you can’t even keep up with the population growth, let alone reach the 600,000 people that exist in this valley. So the need for church multiplication, for understanding it’s bigger than just us, it is crucial to the work. I think it’s important to also understand that we all play a part in that for God to see a healthy church, not this facility, not just this people group, but church in general. God’s universal church to be about multiplication, to see what God can do in us and through us.
When Paul starts this letter to Titus, we shared a little bit last week, the first five verses. I want to pick up in verse 5 this week of what a healthy church looks like. This week he starts in the area of leadership. He says in verse 5 to just provide for us the foundation here. He says in verse 5, “For this reason, I left you, Titus, in Crete,” talking about a healthy church, “that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.” Look, I told you last week, Crete was a rough area. I think he sent Titus there. Titus was a Greek. Titus knew rough areas, and so Paul sends Titus. He sends him to Crete to set things in order. It literally means things are set out of place, out of joint. Someone’s gotta put that joint back in place.
So he tells him these two things. Set it in order and appoint leaders. As if to say, in order to set these things in order, you need some godly leadership. godly leadership is important for the church and we’re going to talk a little bit about the idea of eldership today or what elder is. Elders were intended to be the leadership of the church. When you read the New Testament, Paul shares with the church how to appoint leaders. He talks about elders. Some might ask the question, why not apostles? We shared a little bit about that last week, but you see in the early church there was this position of apostles. Last week I shared why I think Biblically why it’s not possible to have apostles today. But on top of that, when Paul writes about church leadership, any time he talks about appointing church leaders, it’s always elders.
When you think about leadership from a positional standpoint, this idea of elders comes up and you’re going to see in chapter 1 verse 5 when he says, “Appoint elders.” It’s always in the plural. For the most part it’s in plural. There are a few singular passages in scripture related to elders, but the majority of eldership is referred to in the plural, so I think it’s important when you talk about church leadership as it’s positionally recognized in the form of elders, that it be in the plurality form. If you think about church leadership, if you’re just being introduced to this for the first time, there’s a couple of New Testament phrases, but the form of leadership in the New Testament is really simplistic. There’s elders and there’s deacons.
But all of us, all of us are called ministers in scripture. We are all ministers for … We’re all called to be leaders for Christ. And then there’s these couple of positions that are recognized in scripture, elders and deacons. This term, elder, for me if you look in 1 Peter 5 is used in a few different ways. I think this term, elder, is also used with a term, overseer or bishop. If you’re familiar with that in the New Testament, you’re going to see this in the Book of Titus when we lay this out this morning that in chapter 1 verse 5 the term, elder, is used. And then in chapter 1 verse 7 he then goes from the term, elder, to use the term, overseer, synonymously.
But you see in 1 Peter chapter 5, Peter describing leadership in the church. He says this, “Therefore I exhort the elders among you as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily according to the will of God.” Now he’s definitely laying out what leadership looks like, but I want you to look at these terms that he’s using here. He says the word, elders, then he says the word, shepherd, and then he says the word, oversight. Those are all the New Testament words for leadership appointed in the church and they’re all used interchangeably for the same position.
What this is is elder is the term, presbuteros, or presbyterian, where you get the word, presbyterian, and the word, overseer or bishop as some translate, is where we get the word, episcopos or episcopalian. And then there’s the word, shepherd, which is where you get the word, pastor. So I think pastor is more like a function, but elder is more position. I see those two terms almost synonymously in scripture. If you ever hear the word, pastor, in the Bible or people use the word, pastor, in church, I think it’s almost synonymous with the term, elder. It’s just recognizing the way that they live out the position of elder. The Bible’s very simplistic in the terms on leadership.
There’s eldership described in a few ways here. Pastor or bishop and overseer and then there’s deacon. We talk about these terms. Just ask the question, why talk about this type of leadership if everyone in the church may not have these sort of positions? Well, everyone leads and influences. It’s good for us to have a godly target of what leadership, godly leadership should be about. In fact, this term for elder that we’re going to look at in Titus chapter 1 is also written about in 1 Timothy chapter 3. And when Paul writes it in 1 Timothy chapter 3, he says the position of elder is a noble position to pursue. He’s saying, look, not everyone may have that position in the church, but it’s not really about position.
We said last week, leadership is about serving. You don’t need position to be a minister for Jesus. God calls us all to be ministers. God calls us all to serve. And to see this outline of what godly leadership looks like, it’s just healthy because all of us have a place to influence. The church doesn’t have to create ministry for you. God calls you to go out and light and be that minister in this world. I think sometimes we have this incorrect way of thinking where we say the church is a movement and then we turn around and we make it an institution. We close our self off to the world and we fortify ourselves and we start serving each other and we forget about the people around us.
Go minister for Jesus. God calls you to make a difference, to know your neighbor. Love God and love others. Reach our neighbors. Be a light for Christ. Understand his truth so that you can share it in this world. Having the point in front of us of what godly leadership looks like is important because leadership is all about influence and God has you in a place to make a difference, to understand what it means to be a leader for Jesus. What type of leader are you? What type of leader do you want to be? Titus gives that target. We need to know what healthy leadership looks like because the church needs it. When you study leadership, so goes the rest of society. When leaders fail, so things go with it.
A church can have all the greatest plans in the world, but if it’s got bad leadership, it can suffer tremendously. There’s plenty of horror stories in church community where bad leadership takes control. In fact, there’s a warning in the Book of Timothy where you’re not to appoint anyone too early because leadership is to be demonstrated over time so the church can clearly see in the life of an individual whether or not they’re trustworthy for such a position. Leadership is all about being a servant. When you think about leadership, some of the important passages for me, Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11 and 12. Listen to this. It says, “And God gave some apostles and some prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers.” Look, here’s the reason why. “For the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christ.”
2 Timothy, in a similar phrase, says this, “Things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses and trust these to faithful men who will be able to and teach others also.” It’s this idea of perpetuating God’s message through God’s people that carry out the work of the ministry. It’s not about one guy ruling the show. God isn’t going to judge me about on how well I do the work of ministry. God will judge pastors and leaders on how well he equips others to do the work of the ministry. The worst thing that a pastor can do if you want to just get burnt out is to do everything and let everybody else watch. One of my favorite memes says this, “Who said pastoring a church is stressful. I’m 42 and feeling great.”
God doesn’t create pastors or leaders to do the work of the ministry. It’s to equip us to do the work of the ministry because we’re all ministers for Christ. This is why I think the church’s structure in the New Testament is so simplistic. They have elders and then you see early on in the Book of Acts, they’re like, man, we need to create some more people to do ministry. How are we going to do this? And then they just invent deacons. It’s not to say that’s not an important role within the church, but that’s the only two roles the New Testament church has because it understood that everyone was a part of the movement for which God wanted to create.
In the church, we’re all ministers for Christ. Man wants to make it a hierarchy, to see the institutionalization of what it is and create this super structure, but God creates us to multiply. I’ve heard these illustrations of the church that some people say, compare the church, some people see it as a cruise ship where we all just get in and we’re just about ourselves. Some see it as a battleship where we’re all just sent out. But I like the way J. D. Greear describes it. He says, “Really, I think it’s more like an aircraft carrier where you have the base, but you’re really launching these planes out in the world to make a difference for Jesus.” That’s what the power of the gospel does when the spirit of God indwells His people and transforms our lives, to take His word and to see God multiply.
God doesn’t call just a few to do the ministry, but all of us to be involved. It would be comparative to like this, if what would you think today if you turned on the TV and you watched the Patriots win tonight at 6:20 when they take on the Packers? What if Tom Brady got out there and he called a play and then all the linemen are like, that’s awesome Tom, and they ran and sat on the bench and they just applauded him while he just ran the play? That’s not going to work, right? Or I’ve heard the illustration of the church, Christians are a lot like manure, which is not the most encouraging thing, but get us all together and we really stink, but spread us around, man, and we can fertilize the world. No?
I’ve heard it compared to this valley. You look at Utah Lake and then the Jordan River into the Salt Lake and Utah Lake has life. It’s weird life, some things have three eyes in there I’m sure. But the Great Salt Lake doesn’t really have life other than the disgusting little sea monkeys that you probably had as a child. But why no life in the Salt Lake? Someone pointed something out to me once. It’s because it’s got no channel to release its water. Utah Lake, it’s got water that flows in, water that flows out. There’s life there. But you go to Salt Lake and you die. And so it is with the Christian life. God doesn’t work in you to leave that in you, but to show the beauty of what He’s done to transform your life, to see yourself as a minister of the goodness of which Jesus has ministered to you.
We are successful as a church and we are people that are loving, reaching, and multiplying. Our success isn’t seen by what we do when we gather, but in how we live when we leave. Our gathering isn’t just about receiving information, but about transformation. Christianity gets way off base when we think that your spirituality is determined by how well you are at Bible trivia. That’s why when you look at leadership like in the passage of Titus chapter 1 when Paul talks about leaders, he talks a little bit about understanding truth, but that’s not the emphasis. It’s on the character and conduct of the individual which they appoint. Yes, certainly, they need to understand the basis of the faith.
But their life needs to emulate the truth that they think is so important. It’s not just about information, but the way it transforms the life. For us as a church and the success of who we are as God’s people, it’s seen lived out in community. That’s why we create community groups. We understood look, as a church, Utah is the poorest church in the United States. The state of Utah has the poorest church in the United States. In order to, you look at the rest of the United States, you can pay ministers to minister to people. Yeah, you could do that here in Utah, but we have it on a much more slim budget than most other places. So what do you need to do? Well, the body needs to be cared for. So you need to really teach the body how to care for each other, so we create community groups. For what? To learn to minister to each other, to disciple one another in community and care for one another and to reach the communities in which our community groups are part of.
Really, our community groups here are micro churches, the way we demonstrate Jesus to one another. We talk about healthy leadership. I want to show you this real quick and then I’ll move onto the text in verses 5 to 9, but if you just skipped a little bit past that, I want you to hear what Paul’s saying here. He’s saying, look, there’s healthy leadership. You need that because there’s also unhealthy leadership and you need to recognize that. So he starts to describe it this way, verse 10. “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers, deceivers, especially those of the circumcision who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves a prophet of their own said, Cretans, they’re always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Verse 11, look at this for a moment. He says, “They’ve got to be silenced,” these types of leaders, “because they’re upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach,” and doing it for the wrong reasons. They’re teaching wrong things and they have wrong motives. Sometimes this is easy to recognize and sometimes it’s not. You don’t always know. You can have someone on the outside look completely good by our qualifications of good, but not entirely know their motives. You can be a good person and be the most godless person in the world because your motive for being good has nothing to do with God. That’s not right. Doing the right things for the wrong reasons still isn’t right.
But see, you talk about false teachers, it can be a little deceiving but he’s recognizing here, there’s a couple ways in their lives, the truth they proclaim and the way that they live. Just because you’re good doesn’t make you godly. But both of these things become an indicator to us. What’s the motive? Are you good because your heart’s desire is to serve self for sordid gain or are you good because your heart’s desire is to make the glory of God known in your life? Who do you serve? You, self, or God? What do you teach? And so he goes on from there. He says in verse 13, “This testimony is true for this reason. Reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith.” Look, they’re going to mislead other people if you don’t help them understand what truth is.
“Not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure. But both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but their deeds, they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless of any good deed.” Geez. You ever wonder, like if you encountered this person that was described in the scripture what would they look like? I have yet to meet the person that proclaims to teach truth to say, “Hey, before I tell you this, I want you to know I’m a false teacher.” There’s no label that they wear to say that to us, right? So how do you know? How do you know what’s true? Because that becomes the basis for determining if you’re hearing a lie.
It’s interesting. When you talk to people today, how do you know what’s true? You ask that question. The common answer that we get in our society, American society, is if it feels right. The reason that we get that answer is because we’ve been taught in our society that we are the origin of all things. Like the way you wake in the day, the way you determine what you’re going to do is you just do what feels right because you’re the center of your universe. When you ask somebody, “How do you know what’s true?” The answer typically is because it feels right. Even in Christian communities, people will say that. How do you know what’s right? :I’ve had this feeling that this is just a confirmation of what is, so therefore it must be true.”
But if that’s your response for how you determine what’s true, let me just toss out a question to consider. If you ever talk to somebody and that’s their answer, how do you determine what’s true? And they say themselves, then simply just ask, “Then what’s the point of the Bible?” What the heck does that exist for? You don’t need it. If you’re the basis for which things are determined or whether or not something’s true or not true, then why have it? Why are we here? Why am I reading these pages? I should just ask you what we should say. It’s inconsequential and unnecessary. Why would God even do that if the basis for which things are true are found within you? We don’t need this. We just need to prop you up and you tell us things. You undermined.
When we say that we are the basis for determining truth by what feels right, we’re undermining the necessity for anything holy. Any people group in society, if they have any type of holy book that they hold to, when you ask how they know what’s true and they look within themselves, they’re denying the reason for the existence of the scripture for which they proclaim to be true, whatever that scripture might be. So you ask, why do you have that then? Because the answer is obvious. You’re not the basis for truth. You may be able to experience truth. You may be able to discover truth, but you’re not the basis of truth. Here’s a few examples, if you have someone crazy come in today and they said, “I feel like murdering this person is the correct thing to do.” And you said to yourself, murdering this person is not the correct thing to do.
How do you determine who’s right or wrong? They feel like killing is right. You feel like it’s wrong. Where do you go? In yourself? Because if they go in their selves, they’ve already shared with you what they think is right or wrong. And you go within yourself and you determine what’s right, how do you determine who’s right or wrong when experience determines what’s true? You have to appeal to something beyond you. Any time in life you hold to a moral ought of what humanity should do. You’re appealing to something greater than yourself. The question is, what is it? In Christianity, if we follow the claims of scripture, the Bible says that it is our basis for truth. Listen to these contrasting words.
In Jeremiah 17:9 when it says to ourselves. It says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked.” The heart can deceive itself. We say we can be the determiner of the truth, but the Bible tells us that our heart can be misled. Yes, you can experience truth, but you didn’t create truth. Truth transcends you. Truth is truth whether you believe it or not. So the heart can be deceived. But then Jesus says in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through truth, thy word is truth.” Or in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, for doctrine, for proof, for correction, for instruction, righteousness. That the man of God may be equipped for every good work which God calls us to do.” The basis for us isn’t self. Yes, you can experience. Yes, you can enjoy.
But truth transcends and here’s why it’s important because your heart doesn’t always agree with God. And the question becomes what will you surrender to? Another example, guy comes in and says, “Look, I think it’s okay for me to sleep with my girlfriend.” And you say, “Well, I don’t think it’s okay for you to sleep with your girlfriend.” He feels like he should. You feel like he shouldn’t. What do you go to? Feeling the truth. When we experience false teaching, the Bible tells us Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” It’s about where your heart surrenders.
godly leadership is about where your heart surrenders. This is why Paul praised those in Acts. Listen to this, the Bereans. It says this, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica because they received the word with eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Someone was teaching them something and they understood that even though what was being taught may have tickled their ears, may have resonated with what they wanted to hear, what they agree with may not always be what God says. And they need a basis for understanding. Look, that might have resonated with my heart, but is this really who God is? Is this really what God says because my heart can deceive me?
There’s a basis for truth. When you look at false teaching, it’s important for us to understand the basis for which God’s given us is not just to listen to the tickling of ears from what people have to say, but what does God’s word say to us? God’s pointing out the significance of leadership. An unhealthy church is built on poor leadership, but God’s desire for the church to be healthy is to appoint godly leadership. So it’s on that basis then that … Titus, excuse me, Titus chapter 1 verse 5 starts to share with us, clarify for us what that looks like. godly leadership deals with character and truth. When you look at the list in Titus chapter 1, I want us to know it’s not a conclusive list.
1 Timothy chapter 3, talking about appointing elders as well. They have a list there. When you compare those two lists, they’re not even the same. Not the same list because it’s not a conclusive list. What Paul wants us to understand in writing this list is this is a way to indicate in the heart of an individual if their life is really given to Christ. There’s lots of things you can include in this list that aren’t on here. Does this person pray? I mean praying’s a pretty godly thing. That’s not even on here. Does this person fast? Fasting can be a godly thing done for the right reasons. That’s not on here. This isn’t a conclusive list, but this is a way of helping us recognize what godly leadership looks like. This is something demonstrated over time.
This is why 1 Timothy chapter 3 verse 6 says it’s not a new convert here, but all of us would, in 1 Timothy chapter 3 verse 1, all of us aspiring to this type of character. It would only be a blessing to the church, that if we pursued Godliness, see ourselves as ministers for Christ and to take that serious. So he says this, “Appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely if any man is above reproach,” this statement, above reproach, is said in verse 6 and in the beginning of verse 7. It’s also how Paul introduces it in 1 Timothy 3. I think this phrase, above reproach, is sort of the summary way of looking at an elder in all of it. This guy should be above reproach. And then he begins to explain what that looks like in the context of godly living.
Then he says this, “He should be above reproach, the husband of one wife,” this literally means a one-woman man, so this eliminates all other sexual sin in this world from pornography to whatever you can think of. The wife that you have in your home, are you devoted to her and her alone? “The husband of one wife, having children who believe.” Some translations say, “Children who are faithful.” I think the King James says that, the HC whatever S whatever B or whatever that’s called, GCSB or something like that. A few translations say faithful and some say believe. There’s a little bit of debate here what this means. Does this mean every kid in the home needs to be a believer or does this mean that every kid in the home needs to be faithful to what the family is doing? I think at the very least, it’s faithful if not believer.
I would lean more towards the faithful side and the reason I say that is this, that the early church began in homes. When you think about elders leading the church, the family needs to be onboard to serve the church that gathers in the home. So you see this commitment as a family and children who are faithful, not accused of dissipation or rebellion, but rather they’re there to serve as they’re following the headship of the home. What they’re saying here in this leadership picture in just verse 6 is that the home is a micro picture of the church. godly leadership from the church or for the church comes from godly leading in the home. When you think about your home life, you think about the church. The church is a family. You think about leading the church in a healthy way.
You want to go to your godly homes as an example of what a godly home should look like and lead the godly family for which God has called us to be. When you think about kids though, I’ve heard it said, God gives you kids and you get what you get. Some are low maintenance. Some are medium maintenance and some are beyond that. Kids are a life lesson of learning about you and your walk with God. I sometimes will say jokingly, when you get married, a piece of you dies for the benefit of your relationship. But when you have kids, all of you goes with that. There’s no such thing as privacy any more. One time I would like to go to the bathroom without anybody bothering me, but when I retire, right?
But here’s what Paul’s saying, your family is your first ministry. You see some people sacrifice family for the church. Guys, that’s not going to be me. When I think about our church family and all the ministries we could do, you just simply say this, God doesn’t call us to do everything and I don’t feel like I need to compete with a church down the road to impress anybody. God doesn’t call us to be like every other church. God calls us to be us. I have a young family. I will not sacrifice young family for the church. I care about the church. I love the church. I give my life to the church. But I care about my family because that’s my first priority.
Ministry should look like this. If family becomes your first priority, when you have young kids, first you minister to them. But then you get to minister with them. God calls the family to bless the world. The first institution God created when he made the Garden of Eden was the family and then sin happened. And then God created the church to be the place to emulate what godly family should look like, so that in our own personal families as we minister, we can understand that. We need godly leaders that lead families, to be examples. Because it’s hard. Family is hard. It’s a blessing and it’s hard. You get the joy when they’re young especially to minister to them. So as they grow older, you get to minister with them.
Now there isn’t a clearcut way to say, okay, now we’re ministering to them. Okay, now we’ve hit this official age and now we minister with them. No, you’re always ministering to them. At some point, it just starts to turn. We just took our kids to Florida. We were ministering in a church. I love my wife. I think she’s smarter and wiser than I am. But we’re sitting there in this church trying to care for these people and just love on them as they love on us and ministering to them. My wife, we had dinners every day at this church and my wife just looks at our five-year-old and she says to him, “You know what you should do? You should go around the tables and just see,” it was an older, generational church, “see if they need any help.” So he goes around and he just starts collecting plates.
Now, I could tell you all kinds of stories of things that he does wrong, but we’ll just stick with right stories today. So he goes around and just collects the plates of the people at the table and you should have just seen him beaming because these older, Southern people, he comes in all courteous, yes, ma’am and yes, sir. I mean in the South you don’t say that, you get shot on sight. And then he says this and picks up a plate and throws it away. They just thought he was the greatest thing. He’s just smiling, having an opportunity to serve. It’s great to see your kids light up, when they get to see themselves making a difference for Jesus. God’s got you in a place to help them understand how to do that.
I need to move faster than this. But this is the point is godly family becomes that place and to minister with them, you start by ministering to them. And then he says this. Verse 7, let’s move on. He says, “For the overseer or elder must be above reproach,” again, making that statement, “as good stewards.” And he describes what good stewards look like, “Caring about God’s kingdom more than self,” and he describes what self looks like. You’re not self-willed, you’re not quick-tempered. You’re not addicted to wine. You’re not pugnacious, which to me sounds like a great thing to be, but really means you don’t just immediately punch people in the face when they make you mad or really fight them at all. You think what do you have to say for Crete to be like this?
Okay, you’re not blowing your lid, getting drunk, and beating the snot out of people. That’s what he’s saying. This is not what a leader should look like and not about their own personal gain. “Be rather this, hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled.” Hospitality, I’ve told you this before, in New Testament deals more with unbelievers and believers. It’s how you treat the outside world. When people don’t belong, do you treat them as outsiders or do you treat them like insiders? Do you love them as Jesus loved them? Do you meet them where they’re at and care for them as Christ would care for them? Jesus loves everybody and so should we. Love God, love others. And love, look, love is not about loving people when it’s easy.
Love is about loving people when it’s difficult. That’s exactly what Jesus did when he gave his life for you despite your sin. Jesus’ love was unending. That’s what transforms your life. That’s what a godly leader is. When it’s difficult, what comes out? You love what is good. You’re sensible. You’re just, devout, and self-controlled. You’re not going off angry, getting drunk, punching people in the face. But you’re about serving people for the benefit of what Jesus wants to do in their life. Verse 9, “Holding fast the faithful word, which is in accordance with the teaching so he will be about both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” So there’s truth. But the truth needs to be demonstrated in character.
Let me throw this out now that I have just a little bit time left. This is a can of worms to open up here in just this moment, but you know all this is written to men. Did you notice that? He’s saying this to guys. What about women? Here’s where you fall in this. Where does God want to work in your life? This passage is specific to guys. I want you to know women in leadership in the church, I would say is important. This isn’t a primary issue of theology, but it’s important to find a place for everyone to serve in Jesus. So if this is written to guys, why is Paul writing this just to guys? Is Paul a sexist pig? Where do you fit, ladies? What does it mean to be godly leaders? Can women lead? I would say, when you read both Old and New Testament, the answer is certainly.
Women can lead, especially when you see the illustrations in the scriptures. There’s Priscilla, there’s Deborah, there’s Miriam, there’s like 7,000 people named Mary. There’s Esther. There’s Athaliah, there’s Tabitha, there’s Priscilla. One of the most important books in the New Testament is the Book of Romans. People look at that thing and they’re like, ah. They just look at it like the only book in the New Testament, they love it so much. When you look at the Book of Romans, the person that takes Romans to be read is a lady named Phoebe. When you carry one of Paul’s letters, you also carry with that the responsibility to represent what Paul is saying there if people have any complications. So Phoebe would have been there pronouncing God’s truth through Paul as he wrote that letter for the church to understand if they had any question about what Paul had written.
Women lead, absolutely. As a church, we do not believe or I do not believe in a gender-biased Holy Spirit, meaning when 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9 says, “We hold the priesthood,” that it’s not gender-specific, that all of us, men and women, are priests in Christ. We all hold the priesthood. When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Garden is described as a temple and both man and woman operating in that temple as a priest, both leading. God created them equally. When Jesus, in the New Testament, invites women to follow after him and be disciples, that was actually a pretty radical concept in Jesus’ day because women were looked at as less than, as property. Here, Jesus is inviting women in to be disciples and follow him. Men were disciples of other men that followed their teaching, but women being invited in, that was unique to the culture.
But even when you read 1 Corinthians 14 verse 26. It says both to men and women, “When you gather together, singing together, praying together, taking God’s word and sharing that truth together,” that’s what community looks like in Him. We are all ministers in Jesus. So why then, when Paul’s writing this eldership to the church is he only specifically referring to men? I think because what he’s doing here is he’s creating the model all the way back from the Garden of Eden. When you appoint elders, the model for eldership is the same model for God’s creative work in the family, meaning how you see the function of the family is what Paul’s thinking about as he thinks about the function of leadership in the church.
So I would go this far to say this, you cannot have a godly elder or a godly male in that leadership position without godly women there to support. This is not supporting just an individual, this is appointing … This is not appointing just an individual, this is appointing a family. You see? Paul’s describing this in this passage. I would give you just as another comparison just to think about in Timothy, the like passage, he says this to guys. “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control. If a man does not manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” So he’s thinking family, right? He’s thinking about appointing leaders. What does the family look like?
If you want to get a family model in the scripture, Ephesians 5. I couldn’t bring up this whole passage. It really starts in verse 21. But as it relates to the husband, it says this, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wife ought to be to their husband in everything. Husband love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” If you start in verse 21, it literally says, “Submit to each other.” It’s seeing this wife serving her husband and then it says to the husband, husband, go die for your wife. It’s this mutual submission for the benefit of what Jesus wants to do.
God creates us equally and he also creates us uniquely. You think in a company when you go hire jobs, you don’t hire everybody to do the same thing. The company can’t do what it’s created to do if everyone does the same thing. God gifts us uniquely. And so it is in the role of husband and wife. That’s why we have two terms, husband and wife. There’s this symbiotic beauty in that relationship that produces the health that God desires. Guys, God holds your butt on the line to make sure you carry that responsibility seriously. Now look, I want you to understand what he’s saying in 1 Timothy chapter 3. He doesn’t call you dictator. You’re not a benevolent dictator. He calls you a manager. Manager’s different than dictator. A manager doesn’t have to do everything.
A manager’s just responsible to make sure it gets done in a healthy way. But a manager’s smart enough to know you need to hire people smarter than you in certain areas to see that that job functions in a healthy way, so it produces the health for which that was designed to do. That’s why the position’s there. So you learn to lean on each other. It’s sort of like this, when you think about the outdoors. There’s this way we treat the outdoors as a gardener and there’s a way you treat the outdoors as a park ranger. A park ranger just sort of lets nature be as nature’s designed to be. But a gardener gets their hands dirty to till the ground to produce the life. That’s what a manager is.
You don’t just say, God gave me family, I hope you guys work out in the end. Whew. I’m going to stand back here just do my thing and I don’t know. Good luck to you. You get your hands dirty. What does the soil need? What do you need to till? So when you think about godly leadership in the church, guys, I want us to know when you appoint a leader, you appoint a family. You don’t have godly family without a team working together because we don’t have godly church. God calls us a family. We don’t have godly church without us working together. That’s what Paul’s getting at in this passage of scripture. I need to end.
When you read a list like this, which I just quickly went through, you see God’s model for church leadership related to family. Sometimes guys, I read a list like this and I want you to know it’s sobering. Just understanding what godliness looks like can be sobering because I think we recognize in our lives we fall short. I mean you can think in the church of Crete where they’re like, “Let’s do godly leaders. Let’s appoint godly leaders. Who can we get as a leader? Let’s get John because he’s really good at just beating people up. He’s tough.” They’re like no, that’s not godly leaders. Oh, what is it? Then when Paul writes this out they’re like, “Ah.” Looking around the room, you’re like, “I think we all failed. We all fail at this.”
It’s true. We do. So I think Paul starts off Titus this way for just a sobering place in our lives just to be real. If we want the church to move forward, we need godly leaders. We’re all called to be ministers for Christ. So where’s my heart? My family is my first ministry, my spouse or my kids. How are we producing that health in my family to bless the world? I may not have an A+ today. So what’ll I do? I recognize this. In Psalm 23, one of my favorite verses, I shared this with my kids last week. In verse 6, he’s pointing out to us, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” he says this in verse 6. Even in our failures, God’s goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life. Look, God is for you.
God wants you to thrive. He’s not pointing out godly leadership so we can look at how bad we are and say, forget it, I’m done. Or man, God’s just telling me what a horrible person. God’s pointing out godly leadership so we can see the goal for which he’s called us to because God wants us to thrive as his community. So what’ll we do? We pause our hearts and we just confess maybe before our family, but we just confess. God lead me in you.