There was trouble in Crete. Why else would Paul be writing? The problem was the "insubordinate" ones; the "empty talkers" and "deceivers." They were upsetting whole households. They needed to be stopped (Titus 1:10-16). These opponents whom Titus contended with were behaving contrary to what they professed to believe. Paul gives us the bottom line statement in 1:16: "They profess to know God, but deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work."
In the face of these false teachers, Titus was to appoint elders, and they were to teach sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). Paul gives him an outline of who and what, listing older men and older women, and expectations for the younger men. Titus was to be a model of good works (Titus. 2:1-7). He was to use sound speech that cannot be condemned, "so that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." (Titus 2:8).
The qualifications for an elder, for those in leadership of the church, are nothing to sneeze at. Above reproach; that encompasses a lot of things. If you were to take the list of qualification for elders found in Titus and in I Timothy 3, you would see a similar picture. It's serious business. And if that wasn't enough, the expectation that outsiders would have nothing evil to say about the church is pretty sobering.
A couple of weeks ago, the ladies in my Sunday school class and I discussed the importance of having a good reputation in our community. One of the ladies mentioned that our reputation will either draw people to us or push them away. We all agreed that a good reputation begins with the leaders, who set the tone. We are to listen to their biblical teaching and follow their example.
What happens when a church leader professes to know God but denies Him by his works? It isn't pretty. In the spring of 1990, my husband and I went on vacation. The day after our return, my brother brought me a local newspaper and showed me an article, and asked me, "Isn't this your pastor?" I looked at the small entry in the newspaper. Apparently, while we were away, a man had been arrested on a charge of immoral conduct. As I read, it became clear: this man the article mentioned was indeed our pastor. The subsequent fallout was devastating and ugly. This was a man who professed to know God but denied Him by his works. The reputation of our church was damaged. My brother, the atheist that he is, only grew more certain that religious people are just hypocrites. I don't know what anyone else in the community felt, but I know it simply solidified the negative view my family had about my church. This is a far cry from being in the position of having nothing evil said of us.
In the midst of this situation, the pastor who married my husband and me sent us a letter with this reminder from I Corinthians 10:12: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." He cautioned us against feelings of anger and retribution, and then he reminded us of the great need to pray for the leadership of our church.
Pastors face the same kinds of temptations any other men do, and they face the added temptation of being the centre of attention. The pastor my husband and I had the following year was a wonderful man of God, humble and sincere. He told us that as a pastor, it was often difficult to battle the temptation to have pride when week in and week out, he was told what a great message that was, and what a great teacher he was, and how he ministered to someone. He was constantly on guard for evidence of pride in his life.
Pastors need prayer to be delivered from temptation and sin on a daily basis. My pastor's wife said that prayers for protection against sin is one of the best things we can pray for our leaders. They also need prayer to be good husbands, fathers, sons, and friends; to be able to protect their family relationships, because being a pastor is demanding and exhausting at times. They need prayer for wisdom, understanding, and the ability to communicate the whole counsel of the Bible faithfully. They need prayer all of the time. It is a serious call to be in leadership.
Do you want to be involved in the leadership of your local church? Here is a practical and crucial way: pray for the leadership of your church. Tell them you're praying; it will build them up, and give them confidence knowing that there is a host of others upholding them. It may sound like a minor thing; it may only take a few minutes a day, but the effects will be long-lasting. Considering the high standards expected of our leaders, they really can't do without our prayers.