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. 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. Titus 1:6-7 (NIV).
Paul tells us what our leaders (especially our church leaders) should be. Then he tells us about habits they should not have. It’s a lesson we should enthusiastically, but carefully, heed.
We’ve been here before. Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Jim Bakker, Mel Gibson, John F. Kennedy, Jay-Z; name your celebrity or politician. I dare say most couldn’t pass Paul’s smell test to be an elder. Most people don’t vote for politicians because they’re saints. Most people don’t listen to popular artists or movie stars because those people are paragons of virtue. We listen to those people, watch them, vote for them because we like them and what they say or do, or we agree with some of what they say and do.
Got skin? Got sin. Donald and Bill and Jim and the rest are me. They’re you. Sinners and fallen.
Those who are our earthly leaders, celebrities, and such are fulfilling roles that God appointed for them as well. That doesn’t mean we should excuse repugnant or bad behavior. It does, however, mean thinking about it in context of why – and who and where – they are.
In Titus 1, Paul is talking specifically about leaders in the church. You’d think that a faithful humanity would want our church leaders and civic leaders to have the same virtues. In reality, we do. Yet, in the church, we should hold our leaders to a Godly standard that isn’t always germane for civil service. Especially in a time when so many are uber-sensitive to the (not in the Constitution) separation of church and state.
We shouldn’t be jerks (but so many are). We shouldn’t be wallowing substance abusers (but many are). We shouldn’t be violent (but way too many are). We shouldn’t pursue dishonest gain (but way too many use the church as their own springboard). There’s a lot we, as leaders of the church of God, shouldn’t do. But there’s lots more we should do. Our leaders are, as front-line soldiers, representing the family of Jesus. We should be morally upright, publicly virtuous, and a good example for others to aspire to follow.
In other words, we should model Jesus. That’s what Paul is telling us to do. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Trump couldn’t do it. Neither could Clinton or Obama or any of the others. Neither could you or me. But, then again, maybe all of us could. With the help of God, anything is possible. Maybe we could – and should – lead in His name.
For further reading: Matthew 19:26, 1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Timothy 3:1, Titus 1:8
Lord and leader Jesus, help me to lead in Your way today.