Noteworthy Characteristics

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:7-9, ESV)

The apostle Paul’s letter to Titus is a short three-chapter book often overlooked for more recognizable passages of scripture. The theme focuses on the importance of appointing church leaders who are good citizens and embody characteristics that attract others to the gospel message.

I wonder why we don’t hear more teaching from this letter. Could it be that if we really heeded Paul’s wisdom, we would not only have to honestly evaluate the leaders we choose to follow, but also ask if our own lives reflect the same godly characteristics Paul tells Titus to look for in Crete?

Paul wrote specifically about what to avoid and to look for in church leaders, and I believe his message remains relevant for us now, no matter who we are. Many of us will never be an elder or overseer in the local church, but we all are called to be leaders in some form, whether in our families, our workplace, or our communities. One way we become godly leaders is by being selective about whom we choose to imitate and learn from. Paul gave several important qualities to look for: “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”

Jesus is the one who transforms lives, and he is already working in our midst.Nancy Lopez, Betsy King, Julie Inkster, and many more were all excellent golfers I could have chosen to emulate during my junior golf days. While I did and still do respect all of these women, there was one LPGA player who caught my attention as a fan at my first LPGA event as a teenager. Kathy (Baker) Guadagnino was an accomplished golfer, recording her first professional victory at the 40th US Women’s Open. But it was her poise, humility, self-control, and kindness that stirred in me a desire to follow her. I did not know Jesus personally at the time, but Kathy did and she was the first woman who offered me a taste of Jesus with skin on. I still hold sweet memories of following Kathy from outside the ropes and later walking the same fairways with her as a fellow competitor. Her impact on my life still lingers 20 years later, as she reflected godly characteristics to me.

Ultimately, it is Jesus who embodies all of the characteristics Paul told Titus to be looking for in his leaders. While it might feel like an impossible list to live up to, with Jesus’ help we can grow in our capacity to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined,” all for the purpose of encouraging the faith of God’s people, holding firm to the Word of God, and entering into conversations and situations with a kindness that draws others to Jesus.

Jesus is the one who transforms lives, and he is already working in our midst. He is looking for leaders who are “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Let’s be these type of leaders and join him in sharing his love to our broken world.

Tracy Hanson
August 11, 2016
Copyright 2016 Links Players International

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