What one word do you think should define church leaders? In part 1 of this week’s posts on Titus 1:5-9, we learned that Paul had sent Titus to the Island of Crete to appoint leaders in the churches there. So what kind of people should Titus be looking for to be leaders of the church? Paul says these leaders, he calls them “elders,” should have one key word that defines them. Read Titus 1, verses 6-7, and see if you can find that word.
You see the word Paul repeats there? He uses it like bookends, one time at the start of verse 6, and the other at the end of verse 7. The word is “blameless.” Some translations use the phrase “above reproach.” What is Paul talking about? Blamelessness is the idea of someone that cannot be accused of anything…because they didn’t do anything wrong.
We’ve started the next presidential election cycle. How many of you have a sense that it is going to be brutal? I think it’s about to get really ugly as politicians make accusations against each other. We have a name for the TV commercials that get nasty: attack ads.
When Titus is selecting leaders, the he is to look for people that could not be the subject of attack ads. They are blameless, above reproach, meaning they haven’t done anything wrong.
When I hear that, I think, “Wait a minute, Paul. Are you saying that leaders in churches should be perfect?” The only way that someone would be truly blameless or unable to be accused of any wrongdoing, is if they were perfect, right? And that’s a problem, because no one is perfect!
I am certainly not perfect. There are ways that I have misstepped. In fact, I know our Faith Church Leadership Team members well enough to say that none of them would say they are perfect either. By saying that, am I disqualifying myself and our leaders? Is Paul saying that church leaders have to be perfect? No. Let me explain.
Blameless leaders aren’t perfect. If perfection was the standard, no church anywhere would ever have leaders. But there are Christians who demonstrate blamelessness. They follow the way of Jesus, they practice the life habits of Jesus, they spend much time with Jesus, and as a result, throughout the course of their lives, they become more and more like Jesus. Are they perfect? No. They mess up from time to time, but they admit it and they deal with it. They seek forgiveness, they make things right.
That is what some have called the pursuit of holiness. And that pursuit is for every Christian. Not just leaders.
You might say, “Well, Paul is talking about leaders, Joel. Not everybody.” To that I would counter that Paul is saying to Titus, look for the people who have achieved this blamelessness in their lives. They are not currently leaders. And they are not necessarily blameless because they thought, “Well I want to be a leader, so I am going to become blameless.” No, they pursued being blameless because it is the way of Jesus. Jesus calls all people to this. This is an expectation for us all.
As followers of Jesus, we are to pattern our lives after his, we are to do what he did, to live like he did. It is astounding to read how many times this comes up in the New Testament. Whenever you’re reading in the New Testament and you come across words like “holiness, righteousness, purity, etc.,” look and see if that writer is referring to a way of living life. They are likely talking about the way of life that followers of Jesus should live.
The tricky part about living a blameless life is that it can be hard to know what that look likes in 2019. So I would encourage you to think about real world people. Who do you know that is doing a decent job of living the blameless life? Ask them how they do it! Learn from them. If you are a part of Faith Church, look at our Leadership Team members. All of our Leadership Team members are excellent examples of this. They’re all humble, so if you ask them about it, they’ll say this sermon makes them think they shouldn’t be on the Leadership Team. But that humility is just more evidence of their blamelessness, and why you should ask them how to live a blameless life. So for all followers of Jesus, blamelessness is our goal. For leaders of church, blamelessness is a requirement.