By Taking Leadership Qualifications Serious

Rob Green August 26, 2018 Titus1:5-9
Outline

1 Timothy 3:15 - ...the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

3 principles to help us be people who emphasize substance over style

I.  The Church’s Task is Not to Straighten Out the Culture—It is to Straighten Out Ourselves

A. Meaning of “set in order”

set in order – epidiorthoo

1 Peter 4:17 - For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

B. The good news – this is a process

v. 5 - “what remains”

C. Avoiding wrong approaches to challenging culture

1.  Harsh judgmentalism

2. Anger

3. Isolation

Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

D. Goal – A well-functioning church that is a testimony of the difference Jesus Christ can make

II. Developing Godly Leaders is a Critical Part of Impacting a Godless Culture

A. Meaning of Elder

B. Where you fit in

C. The summary qualification

vv. 5, 6 - “above reproach”

v. 7 - “as God’s steward”

D. The family qualification

E.  The character qualifications

1. Negatively

not self-willed

not quick tempered

not addicted to wine

not pugnacious

not fond of sordid gain

2. Positively

hospitable

loving what is good

sensible

just

devout

self-controlled

III. Each Person in our Church Family Can Benefit from God’s Emphasis on Character

A.  By evaluating yourself on the issues that really matter to God

B.  By making yourself available for greater leadership responsibilities in the days ahead

C.  By being thankful for those who have been willing to lead

- Some of you may remember or have seen the cartoon “Calvin and Hobbes”, written for many years by a man named Bill Watterson...

- for some reason I can often relate to Calvin...he reminds me of another mischievous boy I once knew…

- anyway, Watterson once did a series of cartoons about Calvin having to do a book report for school that ran for several days...let’s look in...

- the story ends with Calvin receiving a grade that was quite a bit lower than the “A” he predicted...

- One of the things I like about Bill Watterson was that he was a master at pointing out cultural trends through the misbehavior of a small boy...

- he named his key character after the theologian John Calvin...who emphasized the depravity of man and the need for God’s saving grace...

- the truth is, the mistake Calvin was making in this episode is often repeated in the world in which we live...emphasizing style over substance...

- so if a person is beautiful or handsome or tall or young...they are given a place of prominence and influence whether they have earned it or not...what they have to say may be morally and intellectually bankrupt, but boy do they look good...

- or they excel in sports...so all of a sudden their opinions on all sorts of topics, even totally unrelated to their profession, matter more than the average person because they can make the shot, or run the ball...

- or they have made a successful movie...so now they are leading the discussion on politics or Mideast peace ...

- we could illustrate this all day long...one of the scarier examples is the report that a growing number of people in our country receive their greatest information about news and current events from late night comedians...

- so if you’re funny and have your own talk show, you’re qualified to lead...

- it is pretty easy to make the case that we live in a world that emphasizes style over substance...well, what about Christ’s church?...

- what about what you and I tend to emphasize?...

- what about what we’re working at becoming individually and as a church?...

- is it all about developing substance or is it the short-cut of a clear plastic binder on a made up fact?

- how about the preparation each one of us is undergoing in order to serve God more faithfully in the days ahead?

- considering your involvement in future ministry, are you putting the right amount of emphasis on substance so you are in the best position to be used of God in the future?...

- wouldn’t it be terrible if God had a marvelous ministry opportunity for you a few years from now but when the time came He wouldn’t be able to use you because your life resembled Calvin’s report?...

- what about leadership preparation in our church?...style or substance?...

- how about the way decisions are made?...the way influence is accorded?...

- is it possible that God could have a marvelous ministry opportunity for a church a few years from now but when the time came couldn’t use them because their church resembled Calvin’s report?

- if there’s any place on earth where substance ought to be valued over style...it’s the household of God...1 Timothy 3:15 - ...the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

- the question before the house this morning is, how can we be sure that is increasingly the case here.

- with that in mind I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Titus chapter 1 this morning.

- page 167 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- This fall we’re talking about Building from a Foundation of Grace.

- Paul had left his friend and co-laborer named Titus on the isle of Crete to continue to organize the young churches there...

- and that was a very challenging ministry assignment...the people of this island had a clear reputation for their godless behavior...that will become even more apparent later in this book...

- what I like about this letter is that it gives clear and straightforward instructions about how a church can be effective even when it seems like you’re swimming upstream culturally...

- I agree with the Christian sociologists who are suggesting that the conditions in our country are more like NT times than ever before in our nation’s history...

- but I don’t say that with a frown on my face...

- there are significant ministry advances to be made for any body of believers who want to carefully and joyfully function in a way that is consistent with the early NT church...

- so if there was ever a book for today’s church in today’s culture...this is it...

- last Sunday we studied the first four verses and saw how this adventure requires the right view of self...

- let’s see what Paul emphasizes next...

- read Titus 1:5-9

- last week we saw how this adventure requires having the right view of self...today’s verses teach us that it also requires...Taking Leadership Qualifications Seriously.

- it is very important for us to note that of all the things Paul could have said about this challenging ministry situation they were facing...he focuses in, right out of the blocks, on the importance of the church developing godly leaders...

- now, let’s walk through the argument of this passage very carefully...

- I’d like to suggest to you that in these verses, we can find 3 principles to help us be people who emphasize substance over style.

I.  The Church’s Task is Not to Straighten Out the Culture—It is to Straighten Out Ourselves.

- please keep in mind what we said last week, that while this was certainly a piece of private correspondence between two individuals, this would have also been read publicly to the church...

- and Paul does not hesitate to remind Titus that the reason he had been left there was to set things in order among the followers of Christ in that place...now, you might say, what does that mean?

A. Meaning of “set in order”?

- you’ll recognize at least parts of the Greek word Paul used...

- set in order – epidiorthoo

- it’s actually a combination of two prepositions and a verb...

- epi – upon, dia – through – orthoo – to make straight...

- why would we recognize orthoo?...

- orthodontist...a person who straightens teeth...

- or an orthopedist...a person who straightens or repairs broken bones...

- now, if you’re sitting in church and you hear that the apostle Paul has just said that, how do you take that as a member of one of these churches?...

- remember, when we study the Bible, it is crucial to interpret it in its context...

- Paul said, there are things in the church that need to be straightened out...

- there are issues that need to be set in order...

- he’s likening these churches to a broken bone...or crooked teeth...

- now, they might say...well, compared to the culture around us, we’re pretty good...

- we’re already better than a lot of people and organizations on the Isle who don’t know Christ...

- to which Paul would have responded with something like...that’s not the standard, not the point…and that’s not the focus...that’s why the apostle Peter said...

- 1 Peter 4:17 - For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

- see, too many people who call themselves followers of Christ spend too much of their time and energy thinking about and talking about how bad the world is when the bulk of our effort ought to be centered on what it is about us that needs to be straightened out...

- get the beam out of your eye before you worry about somebody else’s...

- get your house in order first...hoe your own patch...if the church wants to be effective in a godless culture like Crete…it needs to spend the bulk of its energy straightening itself out…

B.  The good news – this is a process.

- there’s a lot of hope in that little phrase – verse 5 - “what remains”...

- it would appear that Paul had been there for a period of time, and of course he would have been able to do a lot of teaching and training so many things would have already been handled...

- but even he hadn’t gotten it all done...straightening things out takes time...

- learning new skills and truths doesn’t happen overnight...

- and for every church, everywhere, regardless of how long they have existed or how effective they have been...there are still going to be things that need attention...that need spiritual orthodontics....

- it’s not our job to straighten out the world...it’s our job to straighten out ourselves...

- now, doing that involves...

C. Avoiding wrong approaches to challenging culture.

- I’m suggesting to you this morning that it is very easy either as individual Christians or as a church body to lose focus, especially as our culture becomes increasingly bankrupt morally...

1.  Harsh judgmentalism.

- I’m not saying that we should never take a moral stand or moral position in culture…but some Christian leaders seem to have an opinion about everything…and it usually involves how someone else is wrong…

- but whenever the church acts like we’re got it all together and we’re now appointed by God as the self-righteous culture police...we’ve lost our focus...

2. Anger

- Dean Merrill several years ago wrote a book entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church...which is of course a take-off of Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God...

- but Merrill was right---too often God’s people come off as being mad and angry and self-righteous...

3. Isolation

- many believers and churches are in a full retreat...

- they can’t build the wall high enough, or fast enough...it’s very much a fortress mentality...

- and we’re going to see throughout this book that the purpose of straightening out ourselves is ministry and service to others...

- Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- that’s the mentality that has guided our church into so much community based outreach ministry…

- [as time allows – walk through some of the spaces at FW – and even how the neighborhood input produced so many dual use spaces]…

- this also explains what we’re doing down at the HH [explain to those who are new and encourage them to volunteer there…]

- of course ultimately it is what is driving the NCC that will be opening officially 4 weeks from today…

D. Goal – A well-functioning church that is a testimony of the difference Jesus Christ can make.

- I think you know that many folks in our town as well as other places pay a lot of attention to what goes on around here...and are intrigued by this church family...

- and the bottom line is...we’re putting a lot of attention into straightening things out...whether we’re talking about our personal lives, or our friendships, or our families, or our finances, or our roles in the church, and our mission and strategy...

- you could say it this way -- we’re putting a lot of focus on progressive sanctification at both an individual and corporate level...

- it’s not about being critical of the world as much as it is being critical of ourselves...

- now, that emphasis comes into even sharper focus when we look at what’s next in the text...

- you could summarize it this way...

II. Developing Godly Leaders is a Critical Part of Impacting a Godless Culture.

- one of the clearest paths to “setting things in order” is to cultivate growing leaders...

- now I realize that some here are relatively new to studying the Bible and you might wonder from the end of verse 5...what did Paul mean by telling Titus to appoint elders in every city...

A. Meaning of Elder?

- Paul’s talking about pastors...

- in Scripture, the words “pastor, bishop, and elder” are used interchangeably...

- for example, in I Timothy 3, which is the parallel passage in the NT to this one in Titus, you find almost an identical list of qualifications, but in Titus the leaders are spoken of as elders, in Timothy they are spoken of as bishop, or overseer...

- there’s also places in the NT where all three words are used interchangeably even within the same text...Acts chapter 20 is a clear example of this...[bishop-office, pastor-function, elder-man]…

- if you’d like to talk more about this, feel free to send me an e-mail...but the bottom line is...our church has elders---that’s just another word for our pastors...

- we have bishops or overseers---that’s another word for our pastors...

- now, you might say...well, then what does any of this really have to do with me?

B. Where you fit in.

- the answer to that is...these verses are a gold mine of information about what is really important to the Lord...what qualifications He wants to see in His church...

- and the summary of it is...it has everything to do with substance and nothing to do with style...

- now you might say...well, that still doesn’t help me...yes it does, and here’s why...

- for practically everybody listening to this message, God has some kind of leadership function for you to perform...whether it’s leading your children, or leading your family, or leading your group of friends, or leading at some level in some capacity at our church...

- it’s not an overstatement to suggest that this entire church family is this huge intertwined system of men and women leading in the ways that God has called them to serve and impact others...

- you’re also in a situation where you’re selecting leaders, both formally by electing your pastors and deacons at the appropriate time, and also informally the kind of people you’re allowing to influence you, or lead you...

- so, if these are the kinds of qualifications that are important to God for pastors to possess...

- they’re are in most cases easily transferable to the characteristics God wants you to be working on to grow in whatever leadership capacity God has given you...[or has planned for you...]

- and they’re transferable to the characteristics people should possess before you would allow them to influence or lead you...

- now, I wish we could say more about these qualifications individually...that is beyond our scope for today...

- let me just say that if you have a question about one of them that I don’t take time to hit right now, please don’t hesitate to e-mail about it...

- let’s dive into these qualifications...

C.  The summary qualification.

- verse 5, 6 - “above reproach”

- the idea there is that we are the kind of people who are living cautiously, seeking to avoid even the appearance of evil...

- people who do not yet know the Lord are looking at any excuse they can to justify their unbelief...and they love pointing out the flaws and inconsistencies of people who say they are followers of Christ...

- and we can’t always avoid unjust criticism...but we can certainly do everything in our power to, as Paul said, walk circumspectly...

- and if you say, well, I don’t care how my behavior might impact somebody else...I don’t care what other people think...

- frankly, then...you’re not a leader....and it’s not so much what other people about you...it’s about what other people of your Savior...

- and we’re not talking about living to please people, to gain other’s approval....

- the Bible calls that the fear of man...

- but because of the eternal issues at stake...we want to be people, and pastors have to be people, who are above reproach...

- it’s also important to note the second time this phrase is used in verse 7, that we have the addition verse 7 - “as God’s steward”

- we’re to view ourselves as people who have been entrusted with spiritual gifts, and entrusted with ministry opportunities...

- that’s what it means to be a steward...a person who was left with a trust...

- there are eternal issues here and being above reproach is an important part of serving Him faithfully...

- now, it is very important to note that what comes next is...

D. The family qualification.

- a pastor has to be what could literally be translated here as a “one-woman man”...

- in other words, there has to be clear and unquestioned evidence that his interests emotionally and physically are only for his own wife...he can’t be a womanizer...

- and that has to be true for everybody in the church...there’s a commitment to keeping marriages strong...

- the verse goes on to say that the pastor must be leading his children to belief in Christ and godly behavior...

- now, we have to balance that out with what other places in the Bible say about the freedom children have to make up their minds, sometimes in direct contradiction to all their parents tried to teach them or lead them to...

- but the emphasis here is...people who lead at any level in Christ’s church have to make the development of a loving, godly family a high priority...

- and aren’t you glad God designed it this way?...

- it’s so refreshing in a culture that emphasizes beauty, or wealth, or athletic prowess...for the God who created the family as His very first institution on earth to also say...what is important to Me is how people function in their family...

- I hope everybody here will say, wherever I am in the condition of my family, I want to make getting to a better place with my spouse and my children a high priority this fall...[if time, develop the excitement of the number of people here for FBI---people are welcome here regardless of the current state of their family---even if it is really bad---fine, let’s work at making it better---also tie this to impact in the community---one of the best ways we can be a blessing to our town is by doing everything in our power to being healthy families, and promoting healthy families...]

- now, what’s next?...frankly..a lot, but we could summarize this with...

E.  The character qualifications.

- what’s left in verse 7 is all stated negatively...

1. Negatively.

- not self-willed – that’s a caution against arrogance or pride...

- not quick tempered – a warning against sinful anger

- not addicted to wine – that’s not where we are finding our peace or satisfaction

- not pugnacious – can’t be a fighter

- not fond of sordid gain – can’t be in it for the money...

- see, none of this has to do with the plastic binder on the outside...it’s all about substance...it’s about the hard work of seeking to develop godly character in Christ’s church...then there’s a series of positive qualities...

2. Positively

- hospitable

- loving what is good

- sensible

- just

- devout

- self-controlled

- can’t you see the wisdom of God in all of this?

- there’s nothing about economic status...nothing about looks...nothing about charisma...

- the overall point here is...if we want to impact our town....then we ought to be doing everything we can at every level to be people who are growing in godly character...

- we must insist upon in for our elected leaders, and we must strive toward it for every person in the church...n

- now, what do we do with all this information...what are the take aways?

III. Each Person in our Church Family Can Benefit from God’s Emphasis on Character.

A.  By evaluating yourself on the issues that really matter to God.

- Can I ask you to look over this list we’ve been studying...how are you doing?...and what steps would you have to take this fall to grow in a one or two of those areas so you could be in a better position to assume greater leadership in the days ahead?

B.  By making yourself available for greater leadership responsibilities in the days ahead.

1. there are all sorts of campus related service opportunities here…please see Josh, Aaron, Stefan…

2. Regarding the NCC…here’s just a random set of possible leadership opportunities…

              a. leading/coaching a sports league (of any kind)

              b. offering swimming lessons

              c. homework assistance at Northworks or the Teen study room

              d. leading Bible studies for men or women

              e. NE running club

              f. NE cycling club

g. teaching a class on some aspect of technology in the Innovation Corner (robots, computers, science experiments…)

h. teaching a class on basic computer use

i. mentoring someone starting a business

j. mentoring a young parent

k. teaching a cooking class

l. teaching a class on arts or crafts

m. organizing a class around a special holiday – making Christmas cookies, gifts, etc

n. mentoring someone on budgeting

o. teaching writing skills

p. organize a reading club

C.  By being thankful for those who have been willing to lead.

- I am very thankful for the pastoral staff you have elected ...

- they and their families are people of integrity...or the highest moral fiber...and it is a honor and privilege to work with them....because you did your job of carefully evaluating them my job is much easier...

- the same is true of our deacons...they are hard working, godly men who carry substantial loads of ministry in this church...

 


Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.