Summary: Becoming a leader

Titus 1 - Maturing into Leadership - October 2, 2011

Turn with me this morning to the book of Titus, chapter 1. Titus is in the NT, towards the back, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews. Titus is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to one of his young proteg├ęs, a young Greek man named Titus. Paul had left Titus on the Greek island of Crete, a 160 mile long island in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Greece - an island filled with pagans. But the gospel had come to this island, and in the midst of the idol worship many churches had been established. But there was a problem - the churches needed something straightened out: they needed leaders. Paul left Titus on Crete to straighten out this problem. We looked last week at the first five verses. Today we want to move on. Let’s look at chapter 1 and I’ll begin reading with verse 1.

Read 1:1-9 Pray

In the first century church, just as in the 21st century church, people come from all different backgrounds. Paul was also a mentor to a young man named Timothy. Timothy had a good background. He had a godly mother and godly grandmother and since the time he was a little boy he knew the scriptures. But there were many others who came out of pagan, idol-worshiping backgrounds. They didn’t have a background and they started at “square one.”

It’s the same way in the church today. While there are not a lot of people in the church coming out of idol worshiping homes, a great amount of people come from homes where God’s truth was not taught. In my youth group growing up, I came from a churched background, a friend Tom came from a religious but inactive background, and another friend Craig came out of a clueless, unchurched background.

A third of the people in Owosso are unchurched - they never go to church beyond Christmas and Easter. Another third are sporadic attenders, and what they learn at church has no direct relevance or bearing about how they live their life. And then probably a third come from an informed, churched background. Sadly, often when we come to church, we think everyone who comes in will also know everything we have learned in the last 30 years in church. But that just ain’t so!

I remember in our last church one of the young women who came from an unchurched background asked Ronda - John 3:16 - What does that mean - what’s John, what’s the 3, what’s the 16, why is there a colon there? Maybe you have the same questions. The key is that no matter what background you come from, no matter where you start on your spiritual journey, the focus is to GROW!

The writer of Hebrews laments the sad state of the Jews in the first century. He writes in Hebrews 5:12 - You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.

Today, no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, we want to look to grow spiritually, to become more like Jesus. But HOW do we do that, how do we grow? Well, we need to keep a goal in mind. And of course our goal is to be like Jesus. Romans 8:29 tells us, God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son. But for many of us that really doesn’t help us a lot. Sure, we wear WWJD bracelets and if we’re tempted to have an affair, we can say, What Would Jesus Do? But it would be nice if God gave us another way to focus on our goal. And He did!

A little boy was having nightmares one night. You know, the bad kind where you have to go to mama. Often it's no use going to dad because he just says, “Go to your mother.” So that’s what the little boy did. He went to his mother and said,“Mama, mama, I'm having nightmares!”

She calmly replied, “It's OK honey. Here's what I want you to do: I want you to go back to your room. I want you to knell down by your bed. And I want you to pray to Jesus and he'll fix it.”

Well the little boy went back to his room, knelt down by his bed, prayed to Jesus, got back in bed and he had more nightmares. Back and forth to mama a couple more times. Finally the little boy said, “I know mom. I'm going back to my room. I'm going to kneel down by my bed. I'm going to pray to Jesus and he'll fix it. But before I do that, can I just lay in bed with you and have you hold me?”

His mother replied, “Well, sure honey. Why?” To which the boy replied,“Because sometimes, mama, I need Jesus with skin on him!”

And that’s the same way with us. Sometimes as we think about growing spiritually, growing to be like Jesus, we need to see Jesus with skin on. That’s why Paul writes to the Corinthian church, in 11:1 - Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. Paul said, You want to know what it means to follow Christ, look at me, do what I do, live like I live, be just like me.

That really takes us back to the teachings of discipleship. We talked about this earlier this year. Remember a young Jewish boy would follow a rabbi, everywhere he went, and would try to be just like his rabbi. Jesus called 12 disciples to be with him, to follow him, to be just like him in everything. As we look to be like Jesus, we need examples to follow. Where should we find them? In the church!

When Paul tells Titus to appoint elders in every town, we need to understand that he was not just giving every church someone who would take care of all the liturgical and administrative details. Instead, he was giving every church an example of what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. And a couple places in the bible we find specific qualities of what those elders should look like. Here in Titus, chapter 1, chapter 2, also in 1 Timothy 3, and also in 1 Peter 5. In fact, Timothy is at Ephesus, the big city - Titus is out on the island of Crete, going from town to town - whether in a big church or a little church, the pattern of leadership is consistent. Big churches and little churches both need godly people in places of leadership. Here’s what Peter says - So I exhort the elders among you . . . shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight . . . being examples to the flock.

What does it look like to be like Jesus? What does it look like to be spiritually mature? In every church, the picture of this, Jesus with skin on, is to be the elders of the church. You should be able to look at me, at Rick Wood, at Jim Lee, and at Glenn Jandik, and say That is what it looks like to follow Jesus!

Not that is a pretty high standard. But let’s not forget, we are all human, we will all make mistakes. But our life should set an example. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 3:9 - we wanted to give you an example to follow. Let’s remember the purpose of an example. Far too often we think about examples and we think of the qualities of the example, what they look like. But the main reason we have an example is not so we can admire the example, but so we can BE just like the example.

There are a lot of Christians in churches who want to pick apart their examples, they want to criticize the examples they have in the leaders of their churches. Instead, their focus should be on FOLLOWING the examples set before them. When we think about serving, we should be able to think, look at Rick Wood, always serving the Lord - How can I be more like Rick. When we think about humility, we should be able to think, look at Jim Lee, he never wants to take any credit or recognition, how can I be more like Jim. When we think about loving our family, we should be able to think, look at how Glenn Jandik loves his wife and children, how can I be more like Glenn. As elders, we set an example, and other are to follow that example.

So, having said all that, when we read here in Titus the qualities of elders, sometimes it is easy to say, Oh, I’m not an elder, so I don’t need to worry about this section. Or we say, I need to examine our elders to see if they are measuring up to the standard. But remember, if we are to be following the example of the elders, then EACH ONE OF US should be seeking to follow this standard! We need to check OURSELVES against the standard of these verses.

Now, we could take a week looking at each word mentioned, each quality given, and we could still be in this chapter next year. In fact, our elders spent a year going through the bible looking at the qualities of elders. I don’t want to take that long with this material. But I would encourage you to spend some extra time looking at these qualities. But what I DO want to do is to help break down these qualities into some general areas of application. So, what does it look like to follow Jesus, as demonstrated in the lives of our leaders? First, we will be . . .

1. “Maturing in Christ”

Making a commitment to be growing in your spiritual relationship with your Lord.

Here it says an elder should be blameless - not sinless, remember Paul said he was the chief of sinners - but blameless - his character was such that no one could point out unconfessed sins. Think about Jesus - To be blameless is basically to live like Christ. Jesus was often accused falsely by his enemies, but they could never make anything stick because he was perfect. He states in John "Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?"

Other terms in the elder lists - Not a recent convert - not newly converted, not starting out at zero on the 1 to 10 scale. Hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience - one who doesn’t harbor doubts about whether what they believe is true. Tested - Proven themselves blameless.

As you look at your life, do you see your spiritual growth in your relationship with God and others.

Secondly, we should seek to be a

2. “Student of the Word”

Godly men and women discipline themselves as a student, who handles the Word of God correctly. Verse 9 says, He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. We’ll talk more about standing for truth next week. But to encourage and confront, we need to know what the Bible says. The best way to know what it says it to read it!

Others phrases - Able to teach - Able to give instruction in sound doctrine - Able to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine - one whose Teaching shows integrity

As you examine yourself, are you commited to learning God’s word?

A third area of qualities of godliness

3. “Godly Reverence”

God’s man or woman is an awe-filled worshiper, who reverently fears the Holy God in word and deed.

Verse 8 says, one who loves what is good - other phrases:

Above reproach - above criticism - without accusation - Worthy of respect - Dignified - Not arrogant

Not self-centered, self-willed, or stubborn

Do you respect God enough to be SERIOUS about your spiritual growth, to give in priority. Any child will sooner or later develop an adult’s body - but sadly, many adults are not mature. We need to take seriously the call of God to grow.

4. Having an “Ordered Private World”

Godly individuals live out the disciplines of a disciple, who is intentionally examines himself.

Verse 8 again - who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

This describes someone who keeps their desires in check. They do not live on the basis of feeling, but on the basis of principle. They do what is right, not what someone talks them into doing. Some phrases that describe this: Self-controlled - Alternately translated as prudent, reasonable, sensible -

Respectable - well-arranged,disciplined,honorable;modest,well-ordered

It is the outward expression of inward self-control. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:27 - I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

If you are planning on running a marathon, you don’t eat chips and ice cream every night. You control your desires to give up what you enjoy so you can become the person you want to be.

5. “Spiritual Freedom”

God’s man, because of his eternity-focused mindset, is free from controlling bad habits. This is tied in to the last idea. We control our desires, and as a result, we are not given in to excess. Verse 7 -

not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. When we grow to be like Christ, we will not be controlled by our habits. Notice some other words in the lists:

Sober-minded - Temperate, restrained - free from every form of excess, passion, or rashness.

Not a drunkard - Not addicted to much wine - Not a lover of money - Not greedy for dishonest gain

Not double tongued, or hypocritical.

6. “Family-Life Tested”

Godly men and women seek to model covenant-faithful love in their families. Verse 6 - the husband of but one wife. There has been a lot of debate over the years about whether this is a requirement of marriage or whether a divorced person can lead. The key idea is faithfulness to family. The actual term is a one woman man. It mentions Manage his own household well - With all dignity keeping his children submissive - Children are faithful and are not open to the charge of reckless or wild living.

As you think about growing spiritually, does your family life reflect your commitment to Christ?

7. “Community-Life Consistent”

God’s leader reaches out as a witness, whose consistent walk with God is even evident to outsiders.

Verse 8 - Rather he must be hospitable - other passages, Lover of strangers - Well thought of by outsiders

Able to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine

The key idea here: do those outside the church see your love for Jesus? It’s one thing to live like Jesus at church - but another altogether to live like Jesus at work, at play, at rest, at home, around the neighbors.

And then two more areas,

8. “Gracious Leader”

God’s man joyfully accepts the responsibility of a teacher and role model wherever it is given.

Able to teach - Able to give instruction in sound doctrine - A model of good works - Exercising oversight willingly, not under compulsion - Serving not for shameful gain but eagerly - Not domineering but being examples

Godly leaders seek to serve for the Lord, not for what they can get for themselves.

9. “True Peace Maker”

God’s man seeks to make peace. Verse 7 - Not violent - other terms

Gentle - Not quarrelsome, contentious - peaceable, - Not quick-tempered

Are you a peace-loving individual - one who does not seek to put themselves first?

Now, the problem when we look at these lists of attributes is that we can get overwhelmed with ALL that we have to do! That’s where the idea of baby steps comes in. Don’t try to go from a 0 to a 10 overnight. But if you’re at a 2, try to get to a 3; if you’re at a 7, try to get to a 7.5. Also, don’t feel you have to master everything at once; instead, pick one area to work on this week.

Remember back to when you were learning to drive. You knew you had to keep your eye on the road; you had to look out in the distance; you have to check your rear view mirror; you have to check the side mirror; check your speedometer to make sure you are obeying the speed limit; you have to turn to look at your blind spot; watch your gas guage to make sure you don’t run out of gas - the list of things to do seems overwhelming.

But let me ask you this: after you had been driving 6 months, or 6 years - do you ever think about doing all those things? No, you do them automatically. It’s part of the pattern, the ritual you have developed. Spiritual discipline THRIVES through structure. If every day you pray before meals, chances are, when you sit down to lunch, you’ll remember to pray. Not that’s it merely ritual - but you have TRAINED yourself to do the right thing. That’s the idea we looked at earlier in Hebrews 5:12 - spiritually mature people have trained themselves to . . . do what is right.

Don’t make this a legalistic checklist. But rather, this morning, start with the area of desire. Let your prayer be, Lord, show me the areas where I still need to grow to be more like Jesus. And then listen to hear what He will say to you. Ask your spouse or a close friend, Is there an area of spiritual maturity where you think I could work on improving to be more Christlike? And then humbly listen to what they have to say.

Let’s realize that we all have areas to work on. Paul writes to Timothy, who had been mentored by Paul, and in 1 Timothy 4:15 Paul tells him to keep working on certain areas - he says, Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.

How are you doing in seeing growth. It doesn’t matter whether you are a 7 or a 9; what matters is are you continuing to make progress in being more like Jesus, or have you decided you are comfortable as you are. Sadly, most of us live out of our comfort zones. Ronda & I have started going to a nutrition class - a month ago I had a physical, and Dr. Huff said to help with my snoring I could either get a C-pap machine, or much simpler I could lose weight. Since then I have lost about 10 pounds. The first week of the nutrition class, I lost 2.4 pounds. But sadly, I still have 80 more pounds to lose! Can I lose it by next week? Only if I do radical surgery! But can I lose it over time? Surely! But only if I keep working at it. Whenever I feel “comfortable” with my weight and go back into old eating patterns, I will stop losing.

Spiritually, we often give up trying to grow. And just like in the book of Hebrews, we’re spiritually like babies who need our bottle. Let’s determine today that whether or not we are ever chosen to be an elder in the church, that we will follow the example of elders and work on improving in each of these areas so we can be more like Christ.

Let’s pray.