A High Standard

“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach” (Titus 1:7a).

The apostle Paul took seriously his responsibility of passing on what he had learned. He had numerous protégés throughout his ministry, the two most well-known being Timothy and Titus. They are more famous than the others because Paul’s letters to them—two to Timothy and one to Titus—have been preserved for us in the Bible. In these letters, Paul gave specific instructions concerning how they as pastors ought to care for their churches and to teach their congregations how to behave as good Christians.

One area in which Paul gave instruction was on the selection of church leaders. Paul laid out specific qualities these leaders should have: they must be upstanding men, self-controlled and with God-honoring families. They were to set the standard for other believers to follow.

In our modern American culture, we tend to have an elevated view of people in the ministry. We see them as super-humans, special people called by God to do His work. And while these “vocational ministers” do indeed have a special calling from God, that doesn’t remove the responsibility of ministry and good character from all other believers. One of the main points of leadership is to encourage those under you to follow your example. If the appointed church leaders are good, godly people, then the people they lead ought to naturally be the same.

At the end of the day, God’s design for His church is for all believers to be involved in the work of ministry. He has appointed leaders to teach others how to do that work (Ephesians 4:12). We have erred in that we tend to leave the ministry to those who get paid to do it, revering these vocational ministers and holding them to a higher standard than we do ourselves. But this is not how God would have us live! Ministers should indeed be held to a high standard, but it’s no more than what the average, everyday believer ought to strive for, as well. We are all called to be like Christ, whether we’re called to ministry or not.

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