Paul wrote his letter to Titus so that some solid competent virtuous leaders might be appointed to guide the church on the island of Crete (located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Greece). There was no ambiguity with Paul about this. He laid it out clearly: “Church officials are in charge of God’s work, and so they must also have a good reputation. They must not be bossy, quick-tempered, heavy drinkers, bullies, or dishonest in business. Instead, they must be friendly to strangers and enjoy doing good things. They must also be sensible, fair, pure, and self-controlled. They must stick to the true message they were taught, so that their good teaching can help others and correct everyone who opposes it.”
There is no reason to think that Paul thought of this as the ideal leader, as if no one could really be this way. Paul also did not think about this instruction as a strategy for getting apathetic people off their butts and into some form of service. No, Paul meant what he said. He knew that compromising on the character of leadership would erode and destroy the church.
The selection of church leaders is important because just one bad belly-aching non-virtuous apple can upset the entire apple cart. Good people provide good teaching. People with a selfish agenda find ways to subvert sound instruction to get what they want. All of us in the Body of Christ are to be wise to it all through the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. This is yet another reason to immerse ourselves in the Bible so that we will lead with the confidence of knowing God.
Holy God, you insist on holiness in your people, especially in leadership. Help all your churches everywhere to raise competent leaders with character so that the work of making disciples will responsibly go forward with joy and effectiveness. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.