Titus 1:5-9 – “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” NKJV
If you allow this short devotional to identify the qualities, qualifications, and characteristics of elders, deacons, overseers, or leaders in the church you make a grave mistake. We can only highlight some key elements and a full study of the Book would be required to fully identify the function, character, habits, lifestyle, and abilities of true elders, not just man appointed persons to fill positions out of popularity.
Paul spoke to Titus, Timothy, and his sons in the faith regarding the purpose and charge he had left them with. They had numerous objectives including:
- Set in Order that which was lacking. In doing that they were to identify and appoint elders in each city with specific function and character traits and qualifications.
- The Elder was to be ‘blameless’, the husband of ‘one wife’, a ‘steward of God, not self-willed, quick-tempered, given to wine, not violent, or covetous on this worlds mammon. He was to be hospitable, loving the good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the ‘faithful word’ as he has been taught and able to use ‘sound doctrine’ to exhort and convict those who would bring a contradictory gospel.
That is not a small inconsequential list that everyone would meet rather it was a specific that most would not meet the qualifications. In reading the directions of the apostle to his faith sons this was not ‘get the best you can’ but ‘these are the requirements’ and failure on one front is to fail on all fronts and disqualify or delay the appointment because of the severity, powerfulness, and purpose of the ministry. This was a leadership role that would help guide and shape lives spiritually.
You can’t have an elder who is given to intoxicating beverages and as indicated succumb to the temptation to imbibe more than moderation that testimony would not be conducive to the Gospel Message. If a man had multiple wives and his children were unruly, getting into trouble or mischief he would not be qualified for he is to be able to lead his own home before he can lead the church of the Living God. Insubordinate insolent children, negatively reflect the depth of the teaching and living of the message in the home and identifies qualifications, for if the bishop has lost his own home how can he influence the homes of others?
The Elder is to be free of greed, hospitable having a genuine love and concern for people, loves what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, and maintains self-control in all things. He is one who is a student of the world and able to rightly handle the word of truth being able to give answer to every man for the reason of the hope that is in him. He will face opposition so he cannot be a novice and must have maturity and experience to handle opposition, disappointment, and difficulty.
His family is unified, his faith is anchored, his commitment is absolute, his studiousness exemplary. It is not a title he is to receive but a function and in the function a position that requires him to lead. Qualifications are not just important but essential and Paul is warning his sons in the faith to not appoint unqualified people to the position but find those elders who ‘eld’ and those deacons who ‘deke’.
One of the greatest tragedies in the modern church has been our popular elections to fill positions with titles electing unqualified and ill-prepared people to assume leadership roles. No wonder the church is often, off course, inconsistent, and powerless. It is when we have the right people in the right positions doing the right things that we progress and often in a dynamic manner. The focus becomes HIM (Jesus) not the elder, deacon, pastor, or anyone.
May God be with you as you seek to bring your life into harmony with His purposes but to see the leadership of your Church God-chosen and God-appointed with God-qualified people!
May God bless you as you go through your day!