Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Two Marks of Qualified Leaders

When we write a CV we're asked to lay out our qualifications. Exam grades and experience from which we can be deemed qualified or unqualified for a particular job. In a previous job I was the webmaster for a company developing TalkingCV, an online video-CV package. It didn't really survive the dotcom bust because it wasn't required. Qualifications are qualifications, they can't really be dressed up with fancy technology. Either you are fit for the job, or not.

When it comes to Christian leadership, what qualifies? When I train new student leaders one of the first questions I ask is - "why you?". At least one person will answer - because there was no-one else. And often that's true. But that's not a qualification in itself. Last resorts are not what is required. It would be better to have no-one than an unqualified leader.

Paul entrusted the appointment of new leaders in the churches of Crete to Titus. He gave him two key qualifications. We might expect to see age, experience of leadership in other spheres, success in business. But none of these are there. Instead there are two key marks that qualify someone to lead. This is in the context of church elders, but the standard need be no lower for other leadership responsibility.

Titus 1

Firstly, Titus 1v5-8 - Character.
The two key words here are "above reproach" (or, blameless) and "self-controlled". They're detailed into different areas of life but these are good summaries. Blameless cannot mean sinless, perhaps more like unable to be exposed for sin, and when sin is shown up to accept correction humbly and with repentance. Titus must find those who meet these standards. And, Paul expects him to be able to do so, even in such a young church.

Secondly, Titus 1v9 - Convictions.
Convictions concerning Paul's preached gospel must be held to firmly by those qualified to lead. This is for two reasons, first to instruct God's people in sound doctrine. Strategy and ideas are interesting, but what is needed is sound doctrine. God revealed trustworthy truth about God's eternal salvation plan. Truly practical life-changing teaching (as Paul will outline later in the letter). The second reason is to refute false teaching in the church. This was rife in Crete, and was ruining both the false teachers and those who listen to them, corrupting and destroying them. They must be silenced and called back to sound faith once more.

On the one hand the standard seems very high - and rightly so. Leadership is a responsible accountable task that must be taken seriously and an honourable pursuit. On the other hand, as Don Carson comments, the standard isn't at all extraordinary. Those who seek to lead are to be able to control themselves and hold to the convictions without which the church falls. I feel the challenge of these qualifications. And I long to see my character develop, and my convictions grow all the stronger.


  1. Hi Dave. Bit of an odd place to contact you about this but I mislaid your email address! Relay 2 is coming up as you know. Any ideas about who is doing which of the talks in our fellowship group. If it's ok I think I'd quite like to tackle "Isn't Christianity just a crutch for the weak?" Please can you let me know what's going on? Thanks a lot. See you soon. N

  2. er.

    1. you've had several emails from me about it since the end of november. i've been awaiting your reply. i used your uccf directory email address.
    2. i'm in the uccf directory
    3. all uccf staff have similarly formatted email addresses, you can guess it.

    what is your email address? / msn...

    as it happens, none of the others picked that one so you can certainly have it.

  3. There's no need to be so sarcastic, Dave. If I haven't received an email then I haven't received it. I've searched all my messages and I haven't had any from you at all. My address is for future reference same as in the directory.