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Summary: Looks at the causes and consequences of bad leadership, and the characteristics of bad leaders.

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Greedership: Ringing False

The Productive Life, part 2

Wildwind Community Church

David K. Flowers

March 19, 2006

Last week we looked at Titus chapter 1, verses 1-8, where we see the qualifications that the Apostle Paul lays out for those who would aspire to spiritual leadership. (Explain quickly who Paul was.) I told you that you could summarize everything in that section by saying that good spiritual leadership requires commitment to:

God’s cause

God’s people

God’s truth

Today I want to talk to you about bad spiritual leadership. There are two reasons I want to discuss this with you. First is that it’s written here in the book of Titus, and we’re covering the book of Titus right now! Second and most important is because this is the way God has set up the church to operate, and as part of the church you can only benefit by understanding it. The church is not a government organization. The church is not just one more “non-profit.” The church is not a business. It’s a completely unique institution with its own approach to culture, leadership, and management. So today I want to look at Titus 1:9-16, and take a look at the causes of bad spiritual leadership, some characteristics of bad spiritual leaders, and the consequences of bad spiritual leadership. And then I want to close by looking at the call of the good leader to oppose and correct those who are leading badly in the church. Let’s begin by reading through our whole passage this morning, would you stand for the reading of God’s Word, please?

Read Titus 1:9-16 directly from the (NIV) Bible.

Father, I know it is your will that we know and understand your Word. Show us the truth today, please, because in seeing the truth better we see you more clearly. Amen.

If the foundation of good spiritual leadership is commitment to God’s cause, God’s people, and God’s truth, then bad spiritual leadership will be found where one or all of these commitments is lacking. If good spiritual leaders are building a Kingdom in which they themselves are not the king, then bad spiritual leadership is what happens when a leader builds his or her own kingdom. For a good spiritual leader, this whole thing is about God and ringing true. For a bad spiritual leader, it is about self – getting all one can get for one’s self. That’s why I have entitled today’s message

Greedership: Ringing False

There are a lot of reasons leaders go bad, aren’t there? Some never intend to be good in the first place. But I believe most start out good and then are corrupted. In the church there are two common causes of leadership corruption, and they are both contained in Titus chapter 1 verses 10 and 11.

I’ll give you the two causes first, then we’ll look at each of them. Two major causes of bad spiritual leadership in the church are the pull of the status quo (tradition), and money. Let’s look at verse 10.

Titus 1:10 (NIV)

10 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.

Some of you who aren’t all that familiar with the Bible are freaking out. You’re thinking, “What on earth does circumcision have to do with anything?” Well let me show you.

See a guy named Abraham is credited with founding the Jewish faith thousands of years ago. Abraham is so influential, in fact, that he appears in the Jewish Torah, the Christian Bible’s Old Testament, and also in the Koran. The whole circumcision thing started with Abraham.

Genesis 17:10 (NIV)

10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

So God gives Abraham – founder of the Jewish faith – a code to live by and seals it with the sign of circumcision, making it clear that this is binding on future generations of Jews.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the Apostle Paul writing this letter to Titus about how to lead in the church.

He points out that there are starting to be false teachings that are spreading around, and where does he say these teachings are coming from? He says, “Especially those of the circumcision group.” Now I know this is taking a minute to explain, but trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s what was going on. Many of you are aware that Judaism is what gave birth to Christianity – that Jesus was a Jew and did most of his ministry among Jews and considered himself, “King of the Jews.” But Jesus never taught that circumcision is important, never said anything about it at all. So one of the major things that separated early Jews and Christians – other than the Christian acceptance of Jesus as the divine son of God – was this issue of circumcision. The Apostle Paul taught that circumcision was a Jewish thing – a command given to Abraham as a thing between God and him as founder of the Jewish faith. Paul, who had himself been a Jewish theologian and scholar, after his conversion to Christianity, began teaching that circumcision was not necessary, either for Gentiles who became believers, or for Jewish babies born into Christian homes. Now this seems like a strange issue to divide people, but think about it – it’s pretty radical (and painful) surgery for an adult convert to Christianity, so I could see why there would be dudes going, “Wait, are you saying I don’t have to do this? I’m in.” I can see why there would be a great deal of resistance to it if there was any chance that Christianity did not require it. So it was a huge battle.

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