Foundation of Leadership

Recently my attention was brought to the little letter the apostle Paul wrote to Titus. In this letter, Paul instructed Titus how to establish the local church. He was much concerned about the qualifications of the leaders.

Remember that Paul’s task was two-fold. He was an evangelist who spread the message of Jesus to the greater world of the Gentiles. He was also the consolidator of the revolution. He turned the movement into an organization. Eric Hoffer, called the “Longshoreman Philosopher” wrote an interesting book, The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature of Mass Movements. You can still get this book on Amazon. I read it in the 60s. That is where I first had my eyes opened to the greater work of Paul.

Paul left Titus behind in Crete, a place thought to be quite barbarous, to lead the group of Jesus-followers. He wrote that Titus should establish a formal leadership of “elders” and “overseers”. Then he explained to Titus the qualifications of the leaders.

As I read the list, I was struck by the fact that all the qualifications dealt with character issues. He didn’t mention organizational skills, what today we’d call leadership skills, speaking skills. He basically said, select men with good character.

He said elders should be “blameless.” It’s not that they are without fault, after all, who could be that. But the congregation can look at their life and see that they do not act in ways that bring disrepute. They should be a strong leader of the family. This is the first crucible of leadership training. If they cannot lead their family, how can they lead the church? They should overuse alcohol to the point of often being drunk. They should not be rebellious.

Paul continues with overseers (bishops, but not in our sense, yet), that they are to be good stewards, not arrogant or greedy, not quick tempered or violent. They should be hospitable, prudent, upright, devout and self-controlled.

Don’t you wish that our business, government and church leadership reflected those qualities of leadership?

If you are called to leadership, either in your family or a committee or an organization or business, it would be wise to reflect on Paul’s criteria for leaders. How do we measure up to this standard? Does our character qualify us as leaders?

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