True SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP involves PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” (Titus 1:5-9)
Titus was a Greek-speaking Gentile who came to the Christian faith through Apostle Paul and worked with him as a traveling companion and coworker in establishing churches throughout the Roman world. He was both dependable and diligent, so Paul left him on the island of Crete to bring order to the church there and establish spiritual leadership (v. 5). The full scope of Paul’s assignment to Titus included both developing spiritual leaders who could be trusted and are personally accountable (1:6–9), and training believers to pursue changed lifestyles reflecting integrity, control, and purity (2:1–15). History reveals that Titus fulfilled his assignment very well and in due course of time he became the first bishop of Crete!
Titus’s first step toward completing his task was to appoint elders in every city of Crete to oversee and teach in the churches (see Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 5:17). The Greek words for elder and bishop (literally, overseer) seem to have been used interchangeably by Paul (v. 7). Elder perhaps speaks more of the office and its authority, while bishop may speak more of the person’s function and the ministry of oversight (see Acts 20:17). In the New Testament, there are four major texts dealing with their qualifications: Titus 1:5–7; Acts 20:28–35; 1 Tim. 3:1–7; 1 Pet. 5:1–4. They are mature Christian men of character and integrity who provide spiritual leadership in a local assembly as they guide the believers through their instruction, exhortation, encouragement, rebuke, and correction.
Apostle Paul has categorized seventeen qualifications for a spiritual leader in three areas: family life (v. 6), personal life (vv. 7, 8), and doctrinal beliefs (v. 9) as detailed below:
- The first three are social and domestic qualifications catering to family life (v. 6) that include being blameless, being a faithful husband, and having children under control and well-trained in God’s Word.
- Then Paul divides the personal qualifications into two groups: (a) five vices to avoid including not being self-willed, quick-tempered, not given to wine, not being violent, not being greedy for money (v. 7); and (b) seven virtues to adopt including being hospitable, loving good only, being sober-minded, being just with others, being holy before God, being self-controlled and being sound in the faith (vv. 8–9).
- Finally, there are three doctrinal qualifications to adhere including holding tenaciously to the fundamental scriptural doctrines taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles, so that he will be able to give the saints a balanced diet of sound doctrine, and also silence those who speak against the truth (1:9).