Scripture Reading: Titus 1:1-16, Ephesians 4:11-13, Hebrews 6:13-20
Have you ever worked under poor leadership? Sadly, most of us have had a run-in with a bad boss or two. If you have ever worked for someone you couldn’t trust, respect, or follow, you know how frustrating and even hurtful those experiences can be.
Thankfully, I have had the experience of working under good leadership more often than not. When you operate under people you trust, respect, and want to follow, it positively impacts your entire life—not just at work, but at home too. It’s easy to spot models of healthy and unhealthy leadership in the workplace, and of course the same can be said for our churches.
The Apostle Paul took Christian leadership seriously because he understood the impact of an authoritative voice. In his letter to Titus, Paul begins with a declaration of his identity, calling himself “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). He also lays out his mission statement: to build up the church in the truth so their lives would change and they would receive God’s promised eternal life (vv. 1-3). With Paul as a model of faithful leadership in the early Church, we see that a godly leader finds their identity and purpose in the Lord.
While Paul starts the letter with the state of his own heart, he continues by addressing the requirements for elders, saying in short: it matters how you live your life. He warns against corrupt leaders who are “full of empty talk and deception” because he knows the damage those people wreak (v. 10). Instead, Paul calls for an elder to be “not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught” (vv. 7-8). To use a well-worn but apt cliche, a godly leader is not just someone who can “talk the talk,” but a person who “walks the walk.” Better still, a godly leader is one who walks toward Jesus.
Whose lead are we following today? And where are we leading those who follow us? This is not a call to ignore our bosses or disregard those in leadership over us, but rather to be conscious of who is shaping us on a soul level. Are we following those whose identity and purpose are found in the Lord, who live godly lives?
Paul’s letter to Titus gives a good template for what godly leadership looks like, but ultimately, our only perfect leader is Jesus—Jesus, who came in the fullness of God, yet took on the form of a baby and served the broken people of this world to the point of death on a cross. Jesus is the only leader who understands our every feeling and can wipe away our every sin. He is a better guide than any worldly influencer and the only one worthy of surrendering your life to. If you’re looking for a leader who will never fail you, look no further than the feet of Jesus.
Kaitie Stoddard is a professional counselor who recently relocated from Chicago to Colorado with her husband. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about helping couples and families find healing in their relationships. On any given weekend you’re likely to find Kaitie snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, checking out new restaurants with friends, or catching up on her favorite Netflix and podcast series.