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Qualifications for Elders – Titus 1:5-9

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Qualifications for Elders – Titus 1:5-9 – 12/17/2015

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 1:5 (ESV) This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 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. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus begins the reason for his letter after the earlier salutation (see previous blog article) and outlines the reasons for initially writing and sets out what the mission for Titus should be. It is both a mission and a challenge because Titus would have to be very discerning in who he chose and he would require wisdom to ensure that the correct type of people were installed to help these churches to be strong. Let’s start in verse 5.

V5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—

We learn from this verse that Paul had served with Titus in Crete which is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Titus had been left there in charge of the church movement on the island to a group of people that would be what we would call in the modern church as a church plant. There were many people attending but also many new believers. Crete was a difficult place to be in because the inhabitants of the island did not have a good reputation and it was a difficult place because the attributes listed were not externally what you would associate with the reputation that the island had. It was also great because the ones who met these qualifications would certainly be living as “salt and light” in that place.

I know how this is as when I write this article I acknowledge that even though I live in a town that has a good reputation, the area in town I live in is not the best so I truly have to be “salt and light” to my neighbors and attempt to win them over with love first and then as they question what makes me different then win them over with the gospel. Titus had been left in Crete for the following reasons:

•       Put what remained in order
•       Appoint elders in every town
•       Follow directions

We have no clarification that Titus was being left in Crete so he is there for this purpose and is there to establish the churches there on a solid foundation and appoint those who would equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Like any new ministry, the church in Crete needed structure, order and the right leaders in place to ensure solid doctrine was being preached and that the newer believers were being mentored up in the faith of Christ Jesus. This is why the term “put what remained in order” which tells us that there was something that was not quite in order, it may have been something small but it may have required major intervention, we are not told this and such talk is just speculation. However the main point is that he should appoint elders in every city.

Paul sets out quite clearly the criteria for Eldership, so much so that many churches use these verses and verses in 1st Timothy chapter 3 to

1st Timothy 3:1 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The reason I use this scripture too is that in the Ephesian church model the church was more established and Timothy was asked to appoint deacons and elders but only elders are mentioned here in Titus. He had quite a job as the cities in Crete were large in number and he would have to do quite a bit of appointing. We see here that Paul wanted all of the cities to have their own leadership and this shows an immense amount of trust being placed on the shoulders of Titus, it gave him a tremendous amount of authority to be Paul’s man in Crete. Paul lists criteria for leadership that suggests that Titus had a job of ratification as well as selection.

V6 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. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

You will notice that Paul didn’t say to Titus “find me the tallest, the good looking, the ones who have a smooth personality, the winners, the popular, the ones you like or have an instant rapport with” he gives a criteria that is much better. Also he didn’t say “pick the willing, the volunteer, the one who isn’t really equipped but he is keen, the one who tithes the most, the one who compliments” he picks more about the character of the man.

I have grouped the criteria together because there is a lot to go through so I made a list but the overriding criteria that Paul is looking for is Godly character. That should be the entry level requirements for a candidate to get through the door, I notice that we don’t see education or a seminary background and whilst it is good to do these things, that does not always automatically qualify you for leadership.

Lastly and before the list is given, it doesn’t state that the man has to have it all together, I have seen some of the greatest elder appointments were to guys that were 80% there in doing the job already but they knew the criteria that they wanted to meet and they strived at that with all of their heart, not for personal gain but to increase in their service to their Lord.

Paul gave a list as follows:

•       Above reproach – Basically above gossip, not exactly Teflon (Non-stick)  but the congregation cannot be left wondering “why is he up there?” that there should be nothing that can be attacked either by the church or externally from outside the church. Basically one that is obvious in living a righteous life, he is an example to those he is serving.
•       The husband of one wife – It doesn’t say that a leader had to be married, but what it does say is that if the leader is married then he must be married to one wife. The idea is that the leader has the attention and sights set on one woman in the church only. Would you want your elders being flirtatious and causing the ladies of the church to stumble?
•       Children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination – The heart behind this instruction is the same as the one in 1st Timothy is that the man should be in control of his household and the ability to lead his own children should demonstrate his ability to lead God’s church.
•       Not be arrogant or quick-tempered – Arrogance, self-will and quick temper should be checks in the qualifications for leadership, these and the next few would certainly not make the candidate “above reproach” can you imagine the scene if an elder is brawling or arguing with members of the congregation on a regular basis?
•       Drunkard – which means the same as “not given to wine” and that is a just qualification as a man who is in leadership will be called to deal with all manners of people, some may have had issues with alcohol and may justify sin by measure that “well my elder does it” I think that personal sacrifice is a far better example as to not stumble a weaker believer rather than a brutish exercise in ‘personal liberty”. Am I saying don’t have a beer? No, I am saying don’t be drunk with wine.
•       Violent  – You have to be an example to all believers, unless you wish to breed a generation of violent brawlers then avoid this quality in your leadership. I am not referring to those who defend themselves but Paul is stating don’t pick people who are the cause of the fighting and are violent by nature and have not submitted that to the Lord. This goes for those who throw fists as well as those the throw words.
•       Greedy for gain – Do not pick those who were just like Judas! One eye on the prize of their pocket as opposed to doing the will and work of the Lord, I have issues in the past with elders who wanted to conduct business whilst doing the Lords work and it left a bad taste in the mouth and caused me to avoid that brother for a while.
•       Hospitable – Probably the most overlooked criteria for an elder but in my view it should be the first thing that is looked at. Is that ministry candidate willing to open up their home, willing to be scrutinized? Willing to feed the poor? Clothe the needy? Not because he wants to look all holy but because he has a heart to do the work of the Lord in the city he has been planted. Will he invite people into his home and open the word of God and mentor folks? If not then why would you trust him to in the church?
•       A lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined – Men who tell the crude jokes, have the dirty minds, love the debase things, do you want them in charge at your church? What about the jokesters? The ones who you are not sure could be serious when occasion calls? I am not saying that if a man ever told a joke then he should be struck off but if a man cannot be sober minded and mature enough to read a situation well then he may not be ready for leadership. The words just, holy and self-controlled refer to his attitude towards other men, God and himself. Matthew Henry is quoted as saying “How unfit are those to govern a church who cannot govern themselves!”
•       Holding firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it – And lastly he must know his doctrine! If he does not know his doctrine and is sure of it then how will he give instruction, exhort and convict those who either come to him or contradict him. Leaders need to have a solid foundation in the Word of God, which is why Paul commissions Timothy to not pick a novice.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Qualifications for Overseers

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the third chapter of First Timothy.

Qualifications for Overseers

1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Paul starts again by stating that right after he introduces that he will be speaking about the qualifications of an overseer, he establishes in the very first word that it will be a “he”. Paul states that it has to be a he, however that not all men are qualified and he will list qualifications below to help those who are called with finding suitable people in their task.

Episkopos

The Greek word (episkopos) which is translated as “bishop” or “overseer” means over – watcher literally someone God has charged to watch over the assembly, our closest English word is “overseer” nowadays it is not uncommon to see more than one “minister” or “pastor” in a larger assembly and some will fulfil different roles, some will be shepherds, some will be counsellors, some will be teachers and some will be evangelists, todays modern pastor will have to do many of these roles.

Timothy is reminded that the person who wants to do this does desire a good work; therefore he had to look for good guys that fulfil the criteria. It is not about elevation it is more about stepping up as an act of service and by taking this task on, you are willing to state that you are willing to serve more and do more work.

Careful of the “title chasers”

Conversely Timothy had not to look for those who chased titles, self-glory or individual honor. That is not service at all (perhaps self-service) which is why there were very steep qualifications in order to qualify.

I won’t get too deep into this but it does sadden me when major denominations with millions of Christian followers deviate from the word of God go away from the word of God and ordain women when there are perfectly able men to do the job.

Let’s look at the qualifications

1) Above reproach – Blameless, nothing in his life would cause attacks to the church, one who lives a righteous life. Really what you are looking at here is a man who cannot reasonably be accused and does not create wonder about why he is in that position. (many of these criteria’s will merge into each other)

2) The husband of one wife – Someone who is committed to his wife, a one woman man. Not someone prone to affairs, someone prone to straying, someone his wife can trust. Someone who is devoted to that one woman and not deviated to others, including fantasies such as pornography.

3) Sober-minded – someone who thinks with clarity, not given to going to extremes and is reliable. Someone who is trustworthy and knows how to handle difficult situations. Ministry can sometimes be difficult and you would not sent someone into a situation where someone was grieving that would constantly be joking and coming out with all manners of ill-timed and inappropriate conversation. Really we are looking at the man’s behavior that he would give a good counsel and not disqualify himself due to foolish conduct.

4) Self-controlled – Is as you would expect someone who controls himself, is trustworthy, is upright and does not rage or “lose it” at the slightest miniscule thing. Self-control is a rare gift in a man.

5) Respectable – Can also be translated as “modest”, “dignified” or “orderly” any of these definitions would give a good example of the type of man that Paul is speaking of.

6) Hospitable – Willing to open their home to strangers and friends, their house is a house of ministry where people are always welcome and their house is an extension to the church where real ministry can happen in a smaller setting.

7) Able to teach – He has to be able to lead the assembly in sound doctrine. Notice it doesn’t state eloquence or be “society friendly” (unlike today when the first concern is how it looks) just the ability to break down doctrine and be skilled to teach either in a large group, small group or individual setting.

8) Not a drunkard – This is quite a hotly debated subject as to whether an overseer should drink wine. Personally, from my history and to err on the side of caution as to not stumble a weaker believer, it would be better to sacrifice personal comfort in order to not cause another to sin. 

Paul states “not a drunkard” and for me this goes hand in hand with “above reproach”, “sober minded” and “self-controlled”. I don’t know about you but if I was to see a man falling about and not in control of himself due to being drunk, those words would be the furthest from my mind!

Whilst it is not a “banned substance” I have seen folks who have been encouraged to drink by leadership in churches “go too far with their liberty” and having sin issues because of it. Not really good leadership and a steep price to pay for “liberty”. Paul certainly discourages choosing someone who has an unresolved issue with alcohol.

9) Not violent but gentle – not a brawler, can you imagine an assembly where a man who led it wanted to be involved in fist fights? Doesn’t really show Jesus gentle side as appears to be involved in whatever the latest battle is. Not quite the same as someone who wished to argue all the time, which comes next!

10) Not quarrelsome – Similar to the violent man, this one is violent of speech! Always contentious, always splitting people up, always fighting, always conflict. Why would you do that to your assembly?

11) Not a lover of money – We see this a lot in today’s church, the “career Pastors” or the ones who are in the ministry for the money that it generates. You can see these men’s hearts if you ask them to give up their lavishness for a 2 year ministry in the 3rd world. They would not be lining up to bear another’s burdens with the least of these. Another issue is that these men become covetous, always looking for the next big thing, keep up to date on the pulse of the newest movements to get new people in and he is never satisfied and always looking for more, bigger or better.

By being anchored in the temporary things such as money, the heavenly things are bound to be neglected. How can the man counsel others about the riches of heaven if he is focused on the riches in his own wallet?

12) He must manage his own household well – God has given the man a training environment in his own home. Paul states that those who wish to be leaders have to be effective leaders in their own homes. They have to lead their family in devotions; they have to lead the family in prayer.

13) He must not be a recent convert – One of the dangers of leadership is choosing the wrong man, too quickly. Perhaps he is a likeable man and appears good for leadership with one issue – He hasn’t been saved all that long!

Paul warns against doing this. I have seen this happen and I also have seen someone remove themselves out of ministry due to issues concerning this. Being in ministry is tough and it is not fair to an assembly or the person themselves to put them into a position they are not equipped to handle.

Obviously if it is an obvious calling from God and that would be acceptable, but Paul is speaking about a brand new believer, they can be swayed with erroneous doctrines and fall into errors that a more mature believer would not fall into.

Lastly in extreme cases you can burn a new believer out, cause them to doubt even their faith and you could lose him to the faith. It is always best to be cautious and cover any new appointments with care.

I have been in a missions church where I was perhaps given more than I should have been because it was “all hands on deck” but any training, any teaching, were all done supervised and careful care was taken before I was allowed to do it on my own. That is not distrust but simply good leadership.

14) He must be well thought of by outsiders – He must have a good report, a good testimony both in and out of the church, so much so that he even has the respect and people know what kind of man he is both in the assembly and out. His life must be a positive affirmation of his faith. He must be Salt and Light to those outside and his life must be the best advert for the faith of Christ Jesus.

Steep qualifications

Quite a long list huh? Which is why I stated it the qualifications were pretty steep. I think already I have ruled myself out from ever being an overseer!

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Careful who you put in charge

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Careful who you put in charge

This has been on my heart for a while, today the LORD has me write about this subject.

This is not aimed at one particular church and pull examples from several I have witnessed, of you see your situation below then pray thanks if you are in the “what you should be” and pray also if you see any of the “what you should not” category.

Titus 1:5 (ESV) This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–6 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. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

A lot has been said of church leadership, especially in the movement that I belong to where a leader can yield quite a bit of power locally.

I love that Paul was called by God to write on this subject in his letters to both Titus and Timothy. It is as if God had the foreknowledge (which we know that he did) that society and the standards of society would change.

What must a leader be?

We read from both passages that a leader (some texts say Bishop, some say overseer) must be the following:

THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE – not a man into polygamy, not a man who is in a series of lewd relationships, not a man given to same sex attraction.

This also discounts women leaders.

ABOVE REPROACH – not subject to questions about how he could possibly have been chosen as a leader, this one gets cloudy in our modern day church, we have people getting positions they were never called into and people serving in areas that they either do not wish to or feel obligated to because they were just honoured to be asked in the first place. (Or because they are in a certain family or legacy)

I am not referring to the missionary church or the church plant as in many cases, people help out based on need and gradually develop their calling from there. This happened to me as I was able to teach small group bible studies as developed a will and a calling to learn and later to teach.

This goes hand in hand with what is said in Timothy about the leader not being a recent convert, I have seen folks be elevated too quickly, become proud of their new status and fall from grace, truly sad and both parties (both leadership and the man who fell) need prayer in that situation.

ARROGANT – The leader should be someone you come to for counsel and should be of a gentle spirit.

We all all fallen creatures who ALL have an issue with pride, (if you say you don’t then you also have a problem with lying) one of the hardest parts of leadership is to not exalt yourself as an example when someone is bearing their soul to you. We are commanded to be humble, to treat that person with the gentleness that Jesus has treated our many sins.

SOBER – the text says “not given to much wine” I would go further and link the verses in Romans about not causing a brother to stumble.

In the Western world we have a culture of excess, we claim poverty but have riches that 30% of the world will never see in ten lifetimes. When we get into something and make it into a demi-God, like the almighty bottle (take it from a guy who used to bow at its altar at least 4 times a week) that grabs you slowly, entices you in with the taste and by the time you realise it has you, you are already too far gone down the path to ever enjoy it responsibly again.

If you can do it, then more power to you, if you are drunk or buzzed a lot, then you have the beginning of a problem, if you got to my stage and was annoyed he had to defer my first drink long enough to do a days work, then you are in idolatry and God does not want his leaders serving two Gods.

HOSPITABLE – if you are going to lead people then you have to get to know them. You have to be willing to show your home and your lives as an example to those you wish to serve in leadership.

Also, in order to give good counsel and not to bear false witness or give options that are not factual about believers in your body that you know little about. I have had this happen to me and it leads to your estimation of that leader as well as the reliability of his facts with other leadership members called into question.

Lastly, if you are not hospitable to all then how will you know who requires extra prayer, who requires more from you, we have a culture of just “skating through” and it does not cut it anymore.

GREEDY – he has to be temperate, not after money, he has to be honest. Can you imagine trying to respect someone in leadership in your fellowship who has a wide reputation for being a crook. It just does not add up.

HOLY – his life must show a “set apart” for Jesus Christ nature, he cannot be the one in the cheap seats telling off colour jokes during the lesson.

He must be an example to the newer believers, one who attracts folks coming to him for discipleship.

SELF-CONTROLLED/DISCIPLINED – is probably the hardest one (as if there is an easy one) as when you are a leader, you have so many more eyes on you than before, you have other leaders and also church members.

What I am trying to say is, it is not just the appearance of these things, it’s the actual living them out on a day by day basis.

ABLE TO TEACH – you will notice this is the last one on my list, but when people try to make themselves available for leadership positions in the church, this is usually top of mind for them.

In my mind it was the last thing I wanted, I love to teach, however I don’t want it to be about me as in the man, I want it to be Jesus being centre stage and like being refreshed on a hot day, you don’t thank the LORD for the jug, simply the water.

1 Timothy 3:1 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

What he shouldn’t be.

(Here is where people get upset)

INVISIBLE – he should be attending things that the church puts on, have folks over (not just the ones he likes) and actually wish to find out where the prayer points are.

CONNECTED – Pastors need to be connected with others in their movement in order to identify trends and share from the wisdom of their peers.

Elders/Deacons need to be the conduit for connection between the body and upper leadership, this whole Sunday facade that has become commonplace really needs to stop.

The facade goes as follows 1) Shake laypersons hand 2) give warm greeting 3) smile a lot 4) advise that you will see them next week.

TOO BUSY – if you are too busy to do what someone has asked you then you need to pray about stepping down. Leadership is a calling, not just a kudos point or a way to show you are holy, so if you are there because of who you know or because you like seeing your name on the bulletin, then it perhaps should be time to prayerfully back out.

The layperson in the church buys into what the leadership are doing and there is only so much that folks without position can do, if the leadership by in large does not show a certain element of buy in, then the church as a whole wont either.

An example of this is hospitality, if the boots on the ground don’t see the ones who are called to lead see it as a priority, then they won’t either. End result is the church remains fragmented and never grows together as it is harder to break up clicks once they have started. Many churches in the US today are just a gathering of groups under the one building.

This spreads like a cancer, and it starts from leadership down. in the end you end up with falsehoods such as the smile on a Sunday/but secretly hate you the rest if the week mentality. We are supposed to be one body, can you imagine the state of your body if the brain didn’t talk to the hands or feet.

How do you measure up?

Now you have read all about leadership in the church and what the bible states that it should be, how is your ministry application coming along? Has it developed prayer points? If you have anything you would like to add then please let us know below

Thanks for reading and please share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE