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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 28, 2012

Titus 1:5-9

How Pure Must A Leader Be?

Titus 1:5-9

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells Titus that overseers are to be "blameless," and yet we’re all sinners. How pure does a leader need to be?

The words "without reproach" and "blameless" are a sweeping way to start that list. l don't think we can take "blameless" to mean simply "without blame, without sin"; in that sense, I've never met anyone blameless. I’m certainly not. The point is that when we do fail, we say it. Integrity means we don’t hide our stumble; we don’t act like we didn’t.

Of course, there's some point on the spectrum of sin where disqualification for church leadership occurs. When you can sin and live with it, you're in trouble.

Integrity - Is integrity visible? Can you recognize a leader who has it? With a person of integrity, you feel something solid. That’s the idea in the Hebrew root word—there's something solid, of substance. it isn’t a veneer."

To what extent does the person's attitude toward the sin figure in disqualification? Paul says, "Lest, after l have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified...” I’m convinced certain sins reveal such a breakdown in integrity, the fallen one is disqualified from returning again to high profile leadership. I don’t think repeated acts, such as sexual immorality or extensive cover-up, are only a matter of sin. I think they reveal a character flaw. People say, "Well, aren’t sins forgiven?" Absolutely. I don’t think it’s a matter of forgiveness anymore; the person lacks the substance required of that office. The only reason I am able to sit in this room clothed and in my right mind is that I have been absolutely forgiven by Jesus Christ. But for people in high profile leadership, there are stricter requirements. As James says, we will be judged "more strictly?”

But what about King David in the Old Testament? That incident is the only case in Scripture where a leader guilty of moral misconduct was left in the same high profile role of leadership. But after Bathsheba, his life turned sour. He was confronted, and came clean, but he lost on the battlefield, and his family went crazy. He never reached the pinnacle he once had reached. I'm haunted by that. I’m also haunted by the fact that not another person in Scripture had a high profile leadership position, sinned sexually, and was put back into that position.

To whom should a leader be accountable? The pastor of a church should be regularly accountable to his staff and officially to the Deaconate, though the larger that gets, the more unwieldy it gets. With some board members, there isn’t anything a pastor wouldn’t tell, and to others he may not be as close. A pastor should also be accountable to his wife and grown children. A family should feel the freedom to address any area of a preacher’s life or offer any warning. It may be painful to hear, but being in ministry doesn't shield anyone from straight talk at home; it requires it.

In selecting people to hold you accountable, isn’t it a temptation to choose people who see things your way? Absolutely. Preachers love yes people. But they need people who are not afraid to speak out against what they believe to be a mistake.

To Discuss:

  1. How can someone determine whether you are a person of integrity?

  2. What sins disqualify a person for leadership in our church?

  3. How can we as a team of church leaders grow in accountability with each other?

  4. Often spiritual sins such as pride and sloth go unchecked in church leaders. What are some ways we can challenge each other in these areas?

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