The Growth Factor: Missional Leadership

Missional Leadership Sermon Notes (download)

Missional Leadership

Titus 1:5-9

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Sunday October 2, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis 

Key Goals: (Know) To understand the growth factor of qualified leadership. (Feel) To feel a desire to become more like Christ. (Do) To build the character in our lives in order to be effective platforms for the gospel.


Welcome back to the book of Titus: a “DIY” book on how we might grow our church and ourselves as individual believers. Growth is important because the gospel was not meant to transform just you; the gospel is meant to transform the entire world. Your growth and my growth and the growth of our entire body is how the gospel will transform Holland, our state, and the world! The book of Titus will provide us with the key elements essential to spiritual growth, which is critical if we truly desire to passionately pursue Christ and lovingly pursue others for Christ.

Last week we learned that Titus was a pastor sent to Crete to establish the churches Paul planted there. Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean and is located an almost equal distance from Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is a big island, some 3,200 square miles in area. It is 160 miles from east to west, between 6 and 35 miles from north to south,[1] and is about the same size as Jamaica. We also learned that by New Testament times, the moral condition of the Cretans was notorious. “Their ferocity and fraud were widely attested; their falsehood was proverbial; the wine of Crete was famous, and drunkenness prevailed.” [2] The Greeks actually made a verb of the word Crete, “cretize,” which meant to lie. These are messy people with messy lives, messy relationships, and much sin to overcome. How do you build and grow churches and individuals in an environment like that? Paul begins with leadership. Let’s read our passage this morning. 

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 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, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 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 1:5–9 (ESV)                                    

How do you spread the gospel on an island full of gluttonous pirates? First, you look for a group of people whose lives are being transformed and are on a trajectory to be radically different from the culture around them. This is why Paul sent Titus to Crete. Look again at verse 5. This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. Two reasons Paul sent Titus to Crete: to put the churches “in order” and to “appoint elders” in every town.

The Greek word for elder is “presbuterous.” The Presbyterian denomination takes their name from this word—their churches are elder led. The word in general refers to an “older male influencer.” It is a man you want to listen to because of his great wisdom that flows from his character, age, experience and relationship with God. [3] Paul wants Titus to find men who have been deeply transformed by the gospel and appoint them as leaders. The question immediately comes up, could a woman be an elder? Should Titus look for women too? The answer for this passage is “no.” The word used here is specifically a masculine word. Paul is telling Titus to specifically look for male leadership. There is a feminine version of this very same word that Paul will use in chapter two. I think we will find when we get there that wise and godly female influence is just as important in the body of Christ as male influence, but that influence will be asserted in unique and specific ways. For our passage this morning, Titus is to look for gospel-transformed men.


As we look into the qualities that Titus was to look for and develop, this message will help us in several ways:

1. Clearly understand the level of maturity God desire for leaders in our church.

2. Clearly provide a non-preferential[4] grid for us to use in evaluating our current leaders.

3. Clearly see the areas where the Holy Spirit desires transformation in our lives—areas of transformation that are essential for leading a church but also for leading a family and being a light in our community.


You may never want to be an elder, and not everyone can or should be one. But the qualities that Paul lists here describe what it looks like to be “light.” These qualities will help us clearly see what Jesus meant when he told us to be light in a dark world (Matt 5:14-16). As we dissect this passage, we will find three specific areas of spiritual maturity that are needed in our lives and are essential for spiritual leaders. Verse 6 begins with an interesting statement: if anyone is above reproach (“anageletos” legal blamelessness). This phrase is an umbrella thought for the whole passage. The idea is this: elders are to be men first and foremost against whom one could not build a case because their character is blameless.


1. A Blameless Family Life v.6a

An elder must have his family life in a state of “anageletos.” Remember, this word is a legal or a civics word. A person who is “anageletos” has no charges against him. In verse 6 this is specifically in regards to his wife and children. He is the husband of one wife, literally a “one woman man.” An elder does not have multiple women in his life, no rumors of affairs or adultery. Obviously, this phrase would eliminate a bigamist or polygamist from leadership. In the early church this also prohibited anyone in a second marriage from being an elder,[5] but this verse does not specifically say that. What it does say very clearly is that a person’s faithfulness to their spouse is an incredibly important part of their testimony and ability to be chosen to lead.

Look at the end of verse 6 …and his children are believers. Paul defines “anageletos” parenting literally as “faithful children” or children of faith. The idea is that if a man is to lead the church to Christ, he should lead his children first. This is a high bar. It is important to remember that no family is perfect; there are no perfect marriages and zero perfect kids. The idea with “anageletos” is that there is no case to prosecute. When you look at this leader’s family, you come to the conclusion that the gospel has radically transformed this man, his marriage and his parenting—his wisdom and godliness will be valuable in leading the church.


2. A Blameless Personal Life v.6b-7

Paul moves from family life to personal character. Look at the end of verse 6: not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. (Notice again Paul emphasizes the standard of “above reproach.”) The Greek words for debauchery and insubordination go together. The idea is an uncontrolled lifestyle dominated by drunkenness or recklessness. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain… Arrogance is being self-willed or stubborn to the point of always having to have your way. Arrogance destroys a person’s ability to share the gospel. Neither can he be “quick tempered,” or we might say “short tempered.” Patience and humility are both fruits of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Paul is teaching Titus to look for men who evidence the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Then he lists three character areas that the Cretans were famous for. An elder must not be a drunkard, that is, a person who is addicted to or who habitually drinks too much alcohol. He must not be violent—the Greek word here carries the idea of force, forcing or bullying people by strength or power. Lastly, in their personal life they cannot be “greedy for gain.” Your version might say “shamelessly greedy.” A person who pursues church leadership for personal financial gain or to enrich themselves has absolutely no place in leadership.


3. A Blameless External Life v.8

…but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Titus was to look for men who must have a reputation for some things:

  • Reputation for hospitality—Hospitality is a kindness and openness to strangers and those outside the community. A hospitable person gladly welcomes people into their homes, greets warmly, shares meals, gives generously.
  • Reputation for being a lover of good—Literally in Greek “good lovers” or someone who loves well. This is an important one. The early church fathers used to call pastors this who cared well for their flock. Leaders must have reputations for loving people well!
  • Reputation for self-control—In this time period, “self-control” had a very specific connotation; it was sexual self-control. A man who desires to be a spiritual influence must have a positive reputation for being able to control his sexual impulses.
  • Reputation for being upright, holy and disciplined—Remember, there are no perfect men. Especially on Crete, Titus was going to have his hands full looking for men like this. He was not looking for perfection but trajectory!


That is what we need to think about this morning. I will never attain perfection in these areas, but what I am working on is that when you look at the trajectory of my life—the direction my life is headed, my marriage, my children, my character—you see a guy whose life has gospel transformation written all over it. And this is the platform of transformation (not perfection) from which I will be able to share the gospel with others and do the three jobs of an elder that Paul lists in verse 9.


Three tasks of an elder or pastor:

1. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught. Elders are the caretakers of the gospel. We are not to make up our own teaching but instead faithfully pass down what was taught to us. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul told Timothy how to do this …and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2. He must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine. This is both the ability to teach as well as the character to be able to teach.

3. He must be able to rebuke those who contradict it. Next week we will discuss this at length, but a key reason that leaders need the trajectory of life we have looked at is so that there is enough transformation in their lives for them to say hard things when they need to be said.

If a man is arrogant, self-willed and insubordinate, he will never hold firm to the faith that he was taught; he will make his own way. How many churches have you seen destroyed by arrogant men who had to have their own way? If a man is uncontrolled sexually, a drunkard, angry all the time or violent, how can he teach or disciple believers? How could you listen to a pastor teach on biblical giving and finance if you knew him to be a greedy swindler?


Key growth factor #3: Growing churches and believers develop their character so that they can be effective witnesses for the gospel. Most of us will never become pastors or elders in the church. But what we have looked at this morning is not just for elders. We have been given a gift this morning—the gift of knowing the qualities of a person who is ready to be an effective witness for Christ. These are the qualities we need in our homes; these are the qualities of great dads and moms who impact their kids for eternity; these are the qualities of bosses and employees that are bright lights at their work places. So men, let us be bold and build a trajectory of life that will cause people to look at us and ask us to lead our congregation. Church, let us look for men to lead whose lives reflect a trajectory of gospel transformation. But let us not forget that there is not one of us here this morning with this trajectory of life that would not make a great witness for our Lord Jesus Christ. We all change for him, we all grow for him, and we all live to serve him! 

[1] Charles F. Pfeiffer, Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (Moody Press, Chicago, 1975), electronic media.

[2] D. Edmond Hiebert, Titus and Philemon (Moody Press, Chicago, 1957), 29.

[3] This word is used almost interchangeably in other passages with church leaders called bishops, overseers, or pastors. We at Calvary use the word “pastor” more than “elder” because pastor refers to role or function of “shepherding the flock.”

[4] We must not measure or evaluate our leadership by how much we “like” them. Leaders are commanded to say and do things in our lives that may cause us for seasons to very much dis-like them.

[5] Mounce, William The Word Biblical Commentary, Pastoral Epistles Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN 2000. Pg. 388.