Read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 to see what else Paul says about the qualifications for church leadership.
Why do we sometimes choose church leaders based on their abilities instead of their character and spirituality? What qualities do you feel are most important for a church leader?
Many people trust their pharmacists more than their pastors! According to a 2012 Gallup poll, respondents were asked to rate the “honesty and ethical standards” of 22 different professions. Seventy-five percent ranked pharmacists as high/very high. Car salesmen and members of Congress were trusted least. Sadly, church leaders ranked eighth, and only one in two said the ones they know are men of integrity.
Paul had left Titus on the island of Crete to lead the unfinished work there. He was to “appoint elders in each town” (Titus 1:5). But what kind of man was Titus to appoint to church leadership?
“An elder must live a blameless life” ranked first of the 17 qualifications (Titus 1:5-9), a quality so important that Paul repeated it (Titus 1:7): “An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life.” Why is this so important? Damage to a church leader’s reputation is damage to God’s reputation (Nehemiah 5:9; Romans 2:24; 1 Peter 2:12).
A church leader “must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money” (Titus 1:7). But he should be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8). Not only must a leader meet high moral standards in his personal life; he must have a strong grasp and understanding of God’s Word—firmly holding to it, able to teach it to encourage others, and refuting those who oppose it (Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:15).
An elder “must live a blameless life” (Titus 1:6-7). The person who leads God’s church should possess high moral character and a godly reputation (1 Timothy 3:7). Compromising on these qualifications may be the reason many people trust their pharmacists more than their pastors.
wrestling with God
What happens when we try to out-maneuver God in our lives? What things are typically at the center of our struggles with God?
Often, on Saturdays in the 1980s, my brother and I watched professional wrestling on TV. We were mesmerized by the acrobatics and the seemingly super-human body slams that shook the wrestling ring. We rooted for the good guys and pointed at the screen exclaiming things like “Did you see that?” and “Ooooh, that had to hurt!” Fortunately, we did not try (many of) those moves at home.
The Bible records one incredible wrestling match between Jacob and an opponent—God in the form of a man. Obscured by the veil of night, He approached and “wrestled with [Jacob] until the dawn began to break” (Genesis 32:24). Apparently Jacob was one scrappy guy, because he hung in there until his Opponent dislocated Jacob’s hip with just a touch (Genesis 32:25). Despite Jacob’s efforts to out-maneuver God, God was still in control.
Even with a disabled hip, Jacob refused to loosen his grip unless he received a blessing. God renamed Him “Israel” (which means “God fights”), blessed him, and then went on His way. Left alone, Jacob realized, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared” (Genesis 32:30). Jacob met the day injured, sleep-deprived, but astonished by his encounter with his Maker.
Are you struggling with God today? Maybe His Word has revealed His will for your life in a certain area, but you’re not ready to surrender. You know He wants you to give up an addiction, regain your integrity at work, or abandon a relationship that’s not honoring to Him.
Don’t wrestle through the night as Jacob did. Acknowledge God’s perfect, loving ways and surrender to Him. Let His comfort renew your hope (Psalm 94:19). Cling to Him and stand amazed as you encounter the living God.