The Goodness of Godly Leadership

Discover The Characteristics Of Godly Leadership And Why It Matters

Eric Estes
Feb 4, 2024    51m
Are you frustrated by the lack of godly leadership in your church, workplace, or community? Discover "The Characteristics Of Godly Leadership" and learn how to identify, support, and cultivate leaders who embody biblical principles. This insightful message explores the essential qualities that define true, Christ-centered influence and provides practical guidance for fostering godly leadership in your sphere of influence. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Eric Estes: [00:00:01] So several years ago, my wife and I, we had some new neighbors move in and just down the street, and we wanted to really kind of make a, you know, make a good impression on these neighbors. So we invited them over, we were going to grill out some burgers, we were going to have the kids, the kids were swimming in the pool, they had kids around our kid's age, so we're trying to connect with them. And, the adults are sitting at the table talking, and my son Drew runs up. He was pretty young at the time, and he goes, mom, mom, mom, mom, and so Kathy wanted to make a good impression on our neighbors just calmly grabbed Drew's hand and put it on her shoulder. Which is what we had taught our kids to do to, you know, interrupt an adult conversation to kind of just be subtle about it. And then once there's an opportunity in the conversation that we'll come and we'll say, okay, what do you need? So she did that, and then she continued on with the conversation, right? And just to show that you know, she had control of the kids and all that kind of stuff, she kind of let that conversation go on a little bit longer than normally would have, and then eventually, finally turns and says, okay, yes, Drew, what do you need? He goes, Mom, the house is on fire. And it was, it was the ivy that was crawling up the house, one of the tiki torches had caught it on fire. And so, the house was on fire. And so we put it out, it wasn't a big deal, but it was not our proudest parenting moment. And if you're a parent, you know, we make lots of mistakes as parents. As a matter of fact, for some of you, you've seen or had parents who were not good parents. But just because we make mistakes as parents, or just because there are parents who aren't good parents, doesn't mean we throw out the whole idea of parenting as a whole, right? What we do is we strive to make better parents.

Eric Estes: [00:01:45] And the same is true for leadership, leadership has fallen on hard times today. If you think about that just so many people are cynical about leadership, they resist, and they reject leadership, they don't trust leaders. A recent Pew poll study showed that 20% of people will trust their elected leaders to do the right thing all the time, or most of the time, only 20%. You might think, oh gosh, that's pretty high for what I've seen. But it doesn't get any better in the corporate world, another study showed that 21% of people who work for a company don't trust the leadership of that company. I mean, think about that, that's 1 in 5 of you actually trust the leaders at your company. There is a leadership crisis, and a lot of that has come from poor leaders, right. in different areas, who have made bad decisions or have not led well. And then what that's resulted in is just this kind of distrust of leadership in general.

Eric Estes: [00:02:50] But just like, with parenting, we don't throw out the whole idea of leadership, we don't throw out the idea of authority. And today we're going to be in Titus, chapter 1, verses 5 through 9, and what we're going to see is we're going to see Paul is going to lay out for us, what it looks like to have godly leadership in the local church. And he's going to show us the goodness of godly leadership, that it is a good thing, and this is how he designed the church. if it truly is godly leadership.

Eric Estes: [00:03:22] So as we dive in, what I want us to see is that leadership is the goodness of godly leadership, but also, we'll see three things. We're going to see the idea that, first of all, the need for godly leadership. Then we're going to see the qualifications of godly leadership. And then we'll see the weight of godly leadership. And by the end, I want to wrap back around, and I want to tell you, here's what that looks like, and here's how that plays out at 121. And really, this message today, the text that God has us in, is for all of us to hear. Because first of all, as a church, we need to be able to understand how has God organized it? How has he set it up? How has he designed it? And to allow us to trust in the leadership that he has put here at 121.

Eric Estes: [00:04:08] Now, for some of you, you might come from a background where you had some church hurt, right, that things didn't go so well. And a lot of times that might come from bad leadership in the church, maybe a moral failure, or maybe it's they just made bad decisions or things that you didn't agree with. And my hope today is that all of us, can take a step back and look at how God designed it and what godly leadership looks like so that we might regain confidence and trust in the leadership that God has put over us in the local church. An

Eric Estes: [00:04:43] d then another thing that I hope we get out of today is we're going to look at a lot of qualifications for godly leadership, but this is also what it looks like to live a godly life. And so for all of us, we should be striving to live more and more of a godly life. So as we look at these qualifications for leadership, it should also stir us and challenge us whether we have an interest in leadership or not, to live more and more out of the belief of what Jesus has done for us, and that should shape and change our lives on a day-to-day basis.

Eric Estes: [00:05:16] So we've been in the Book of Titus, and Ross kicked us off last week and Titus 1. And if you remember, just kind of a little bit of background here, the Book of Titus was a letter, it was written by Paul to his understudy, Titus, who was doing ministry, leading the churches on the island of Crete. I think we've got the map from last week. But if you remember, Crete was an island in the Mediterranean, and there were some unique things happening on that island. But Paul sent Titus there to kind of help build the church, and to help them to grow in godliness. This is a really strategic place for them because there are a lot of port cities there. So a lot of people coming in and out, so if the gospel can take root in these cities, then people, as they come in and out, will hear the gospel and take it out to all different parts of the world. So there is a really strategic advantage to this area. Now the hard thing about this area, though, is Crete was known for its immorality, they were known as liars and cheats, it was it was known for its immorality. It's kind of like the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean world, right? And so it's a really hard challenge, and so Paul is calling Titus to lead through this challenge and to put leadership in place to navigate the challenges that they're going to face in this new church.

Eric Estes: [00:06:45] So I'm going to try and get this going here. Okay, so you saw that godly leadership is good, and we saw what we're going to go up. So here he goes, and what we're going to look at today, and the first thing I want to see is the need for godly authority. And so in verse 5, chapter 1, we're going to start right there, and here's what we're going to see. It says, "I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order." So this phrase put into order is actually, the Greek word is epidortho. That means nothing to you, right? But think about it, ortho, that word ortho, that probably rings a bell. When you think of ortho, you probably think of orthodontist, and orthopedics, right? It means to take something that's crooked or not right and straighten it like the orthodontist does with your teeth. And so he's saying that something's kind of crooked, something's a little out of whack. And, Titus, I want you to straighten it out, I want you to put things back on the right track where they go. So that's the call and notice his solution, notice how Paul says he is to do that. It's not by saying, yeah, we need less authority. He's saying, no, we need authority, but we need a certain kind of authority, we need godly authority. So he says to, "Appoint elders in every town as I directed you." That's the solution that he gives to lead the church.

Eric Estes: [00:08:21] And this word elder, I want to spend a little bit of time there, because it's not a word that we use a lot in our normal, everyday language. But in the first century, it was a common time, it generally meant someone who is generally older, who has some wisdom, who would lead maybe a village, there were the village elders who would make decisions for the village. Or even in the Jewish community, the Jewish Sanhedrin, maybe you've heard of that? Kind of the ruling group, they were often called elders in that. So it was a common word used, but then it was kind of repurposed in the New Testament church for a whole new thing. And specifically here, what he's talking about is a role in the local church that every town, every local church, would be led by a group of elders. And this is a concept that we see not just here, he says, to appoint in every town. But also if we look at Act 14, he tells us "When they had appointed elders for them in every church." As a matter of fact, this idea is so prevalent in the New Testament, it's 22 times we see it here. And here's just a list of the times where this word elder is used, or a parallel word, I'll get to that in a minute, is used to to describe this particular role of the church. It wasn't just Paul, it was also Peter and James, this was the pattern of the early church and the pattern for how we're to do church all the way up to today is to have elders leading the local church. And in almost every situation the elders is plural, which tells us that it tells us it's not just one person who's leading that church, it should be a group. It's what we call a plurality of elders here. And so that is kind of what we see all throughout Scripture, this idea of the elders, and it's in every town, and that seems to be the model that we have over and over again.

Eric Estes: [00:10:17] There are a few other words, as a matter of fact, we're going to see one of them in verse 7 of our text today, it's overseer. So sometimes it's called elder, and sometimes the role is called overseer. An overseer, it's the idea of someone who you put in charge of your estate or your business or whatever else, while you leave or go out of town, or while you carry on other business. So sometimes they're referred to as overseers, and sometimes referred to as elders, and then at least one place they're referred to as pastors. In Ephesians 4 we see this idea of pastor. And then several times when the word elder is used, they challenge the elders to shepherd the flock, and that word shepherd is the same for pastor. So that's the idea. So those three terms are often used interchangeably, elder, overseer, pastor, okay? So whenever you are reading your Bible, you see those three terms, that's what that is, and that is the role that was designated to lead the local church in that.

Eric Estes: [00:11:17] So what do what do elders do? Well, we can see just throughout Scripture some different pieces to their role. They're to lead the church, we see that in First Timothy. They are to shepherd the flock, so that idea of the flock of being God's people, and they're to shepherd, to guide, to care for, to protect, they're to care for the church in First Timothy, they're to keep watch over souls, they're to pray, and they're to hold firm to the Word of God to instruct and rebuke people, and we'll see that later on today what that looks like. So this is what the elders do, and we see that this is the pattern that we see all throughout the New Testament. So we know that elders, that leadership is good, that God established this leadership, and it's a good thing and it's necessary.

Eric Estes: [00:12:02] But it still leaves the question, how do we find good leaders? More importantly, how do we find godly leaders? And that's where he goes next as we look at the qualifications for godly leadership. So as we look in the next part of scripture, what we're going to see is this pattern that God lays out for them in this passage as well as in First Timothy, but we're going to focus on this one, some qualifications for leadership. And what he's going to point to is this pattern of godliness, he says, look at the track record of their life, look how they're living their life, look for the godliness, and that's what we're looking for. Now, this is totally different from how the world typically picks leaders. If you think about a boardroom or a CEO job or whatever it is, most of the time when people are looking for a leader, they're looking for who can do the job, right, who can do this thing the best, who has a track record of performance, who has the connections to be able to take this company to the next place or whatever else, it's more about competency, and that kind of thing for that person. What Paul's going to say is no, no, no, it's more about character, we have got to start with character.

Eric Estes: [00:13:19] Now, I know a lot of companies say, yeah, we hire for character, but usually, that's probably a secondary piece, they're usually looking first at performance and what they can do and then the character underneath. Paul says it's the opposite, we're looking for a pattern of godliness in this role. So, he says, as we look at this, the first phrase we look at here is in verse 6, he says, "If anyone is above reproach." And this phrase, whenever we're reading Scripture, one of the things we want to do is we want to look for repeated words, right? If you notice, this phrase is also used in verse 7, this idea of above reproach, that should clue us in that this is kind of a big idea that the key, or kind of the umbrella theme of godly leadership, of an elder of a church is above reproach. And that idea, your translations might say blameless, that idea is that no one can level a charge that sticks against them, that how they live their life is consistent with what they believe. So it's not perfect, it's not living out perfection and being sinless, but that yet when there is sin involved, then they're going to confess and repent and turn from it and make it right. This idea of being above reproach is that above reproach is this idea of consistency. I think one great way to describe it is, that it is an observable integrity, where everybody in the church and outside the church can see this person's integrity. And if you think about integrity, the word integrity, the root there is integer, right, which is one. So integrity is a oneness of what you think, what you say, and what you do. It's a consistency across our lives, and so for this particular case, it's a consistency that that their life lines up and is consistent with the Gospel, the good news of Jesus.

Eric Estes: [00:15:25] And as a matter of fact, it's fitting because this is really a theme that runs all the way throughout Titus. If you think about, so last week, if we rewind just a little bit to chapter 1, verse 1, Paul writes this, he says, "And their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness." Paul links these two things, what you know, it's not enough to just know the truth, if you know the truth about what Jesus did, it should affect your life, it should make you more and more godly. There's a direct link between what you say you believe and what you do, how you live that out. There's an opposite example we'll see next week in 1:16 where he says "They profess to know, but yet they deny him by their works. So they say they know these things, but yet there's a disconnect in how they live their lives. That's not what we're looking for in godly leaders, there should be a consistency in what they believe and how they live their lives.

Eric Estes: [00:16:26] In chapter 2, verse 10, there's a phrase, it's a great word picture. It says, "In everything that they may adorn the doctrine of Christ." And we think of doctrine as maybe kind of a dry thing sometimes, whatever else, but it's what we believe, it's the truth of what we believe. And so what would it look like to adorn or to put on that truth? When we literally are walking around, what do people see when they when they see us? Do they see our doctrine? Do they see what we believe? Do they see what is really underneath that makes us tick is the truth of what Jesus did for us?

Eric Estes: [00:17:01] So this is the idea of a consistency of being above reproach. And remember, this isn't just for how we select leaders, this is something we should all aspire to, this is what godly living looks like is to be above reproach. So everything else that we're going to look at today really just kind of fits underneath that umbrella of above reproach. And we're to be above reproach in two main areas that Paul lays out here. First of all, we're to be above reproach in relationships. So he's going to talk about these relationships here. And then also we're going to be above reproach, and then what we're going to see down here in the subsequent verses, which is in our conduct, relationships, and conduct.

Eric Estes: [00:17:41] So let's dig in there and kind of see what does that look like for leadership, but then also what does that look like for us as we look at these areas of our own lives and see how that plays out for us. So as we go, we're going to find ourselves in 1:6, as we said above reproach. And then the two relationships that he starts with and that he brings up, are in the home, right? Husband and wife relationship, and relationship with his kids. Why does he start there? Why does he start with, in the home? And think about how different that is from the way the world functions. Oftentimes, what we hear is that that's not really part of the equation in choosing leaders in the corporate world or government or whatever else. It's like, well, that's his personal life. Whatever's happening in his family, that doesn't concern us, that's his personal life, all we care about is his work life, right? There's a discontinuity there, but Paul is saying, no, no, no, no, no, if you want to find a godly leader, you look at his home life first. that's the first sign.

Eric Estes: [00:18:49] And so we see this idea that they are to be, first of all, the husband of one wife. And that phrase literally means a one-woman man. And so you can think of, there's a lot of people who have kind of written about, okay, who does that exactly disqualify from leadership and that kind of thing. But what I want to encourage us to think about is, it's this idea of being faithful to your wife, and being faithful in marriage. And what we see is that it's not just about not having multiple wives, it's not just about not being divorced, it's not just about not having affairs or anything like that, it's about faithfulness, that everybody can see in the community and out of the community, can see the faithfulness to your wife, that you love your wife, that's your faithful and committed to her and her alone. So that's the first mark of a godly leader and a godly person is faithfulness in their marriage.

Eric Estes: [00:19:51] Then the second one he gives us, is that his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. So a lot of scholars talk about this word believers, but maybe a better translation, they would say, is that they are to be faithful. And so the picture here is that for someone who is being considered for leadership, and really for all of us, that the idea is that their kids are following, in Christ and being faithful in what they've been taught. And so the picture is that they are to be faithful to their spouse and to be faithful to their children and that they are to lead their family well.

Eric Estes: [00:20:31] Now, why does that matter? Why is that a mark of leadership in the church? Timothy actually answers that question in a different letter, in First Timothy 3, he tells us, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God's church?" So what we see is that the family is the proving ground for spiritual leadership, and for all of us, this is our first priority, is to lead our families well. And so that's our first task, we want to start there and focus there.

Eric Estes: [00:21:11] And I want to kind of just pause for a second and really talk to the dads for a minute. Because this is an area, dads, that we are called to do, we are called to be the spiritual leaders of our families. Now, I don't know about you, but even recently I have been convicted and have been challenged in some of the ways that I have led my family in certain areas. And it is so easy, y'all, to become and to slide into passivity. To go, you know what? My wife, she's got that, she's doing all this stuff, and they're good, right? And for me to kind of slide into passivity, it's so easy for me to just get busy with all kinds of other stuff and take my foot off the pedal on pressing in and intentionally discipling, intentionally pouring into my kids. But that's not what we're called to do, we're called to lead our families in this. So I just want to ask the question, dads, how are we doing here? Are we leading our families spiritually? And you may be a brand-new believer and that's okay, but what are you doing to whatever you learn that day, are you passing it on to your kids? How can we get better at this? I want to encourage you as dads to not do this alone, to in your life groups to be talking about this week, talk about it in your life groups. What am I doing to lead my family spiritually? How am I doing that? Sharing ideas, helping each other? How do we do that to lead our families spiritually on where they go? How are we carving out time to spend with our kids one-on-one, in a group, moving that conversation to intentional discussion about who God is, what he's done, and what we believe?

Eric Estes: [00:23:00] In Ephesians 6:4, Paul tells us this. It says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." We're called to instruct them, that same word as before means call alongside, come alongside, let me show you how life works, let me show you what God has done for us. And so that's what we are to do as dads. And I want to encourage you, I love being here at 121 because I talk to dads all the time who are doing a great job, who are really leading their families well, and being intentional with pouring into their kids. I want to encourage all of us, if this is an area where maybe you feel like you've gotten a little passive in, press in today. Are there just a couple of ways that you can press into your kids? Maybe it's just targeting each one and saying, let's go out and let's do something that you enjoy, and let's talk about where you are in your spiritual walk. Maybe it's doing all kinds of things. I've talked to a lot of dads who have led their kids through the Book of Proverbs one chapter a week, and just going through those proverbs. And there's so much life application within those proverbs that you can really pour out. How would you handle this situation? What would that look like? That's one way.

Eric Estes: [00:24:20] Personally, I'm going to do, this book right here, I mentioned it earlier, The Titus Ten. Someone recommended this to me. It's based on the book of Titus. And he goes through what is the marks of a man, that are laid out in Titus. So I'm going to take my son through this. So maybe that's a resource for you to go through. Maybe it's something as simple as one day a week you're going to gather the family on the couch and, we're going to turn off individual screens and we're going to say, hey, guys, let's watch The Chosen together, and let's talk about it afterward. What's one step that we can take to really be intentional about leading our families, dads? Because that is our primary calling, is to lead first, our families, then it goes into the church, and then it goes into the workplace, and then it goes into wherever else, but our first charge is to lead our families well.

Eric Estes: [00:25:08] So the first mark of leadership is to be above reproach in our relationships, and he gives the example of husband and wife and of kids. The next thing he says, though, is we are to be above reproach in our conduct, and here he lists out eleven different characteristics of a godly leader, of someone who would be qualified to be an elder. He gives five negatives and six positive things. So the negatives are things like must not be, so we've got this kind of idea of not be. And what they're not to be is arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent, or greedy. Okay, so that's a pretty good list, I think we'd probably agree that those are bad things, right? Arrogance is just this focus on self over everybody else. The idea of quick-tempered is hot-tempered or not controlled, ruled by our emotions. A drunkard is when something else controls us and we're characterized more and more by escaping into alcohol or whatever it is. Violence, we know that that is wrong for a guy to ever use his physical force to get what he wants. And then greedy for gain, and gosh, guys, this one's a hard one, especially in the area we live in, to watch out for.

Eric Estes: [00:26:35] In Timothy 6, he's going to tell us, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." It's the love of money. It's being controlled by it. And each of these is really a lack of control, arrogance is being controlled by my focus on myself. Quick-tempered is being controlled by my passions or my emotions. A drunkard is being controlled by wine or alcohol. Violence is being controlled by aggression. Greed is being controlled by money. And he's saying no that a leader, a godly leader, and also a godly person is not characterized by those things. So maybe we start there and just look at even our own lives, and would anybody characterize us by those things? Are we slipping into habits or patterns in these areas, and how do we then repent, confess, turn, and say that's not who I want to be and turn towards a godly life.

Eric Estes: [00:27:40] Okay, then he turns the corner, and he lists out six positive things that they're to be, that this is what the godly life looks like. So he talks about being hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. What do we think about hospitable, let's just take that one for example. We tend to think of the modern definition of hospitable, throwing parties and entertaining people and that kind of stuff. But in the first century, being hospitable just meant you were open to people who had needs, and people could come to you with needs. Maybe they need a place to stay, maybe they need a place, whatever. So it's that idea of being caring for others, and meeting their needs, this is a mark of a godly leader. And how are we doing in that? How are we all doing in that, and growing in that? And by the way, each of these, you might say, yeah, I'm not good at that. But the mark we want to look at is, are we growing in this over time? Are we seeing an increase in our hospitality and our loving others? Are we seeing an increase of loving good? Do you desire the things that God would declare as good? Do you think about and put in your mind, feed your mind with those things that are true and good and beautiful and lovely, right?

Eric Estes: [00:29:05] In Philippians 4, Paul tells us this, he says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." How do we set our minds to more often, and more often, think on these things? Self-control, this is a big one, this is mentioned five times in the Book of Titus, the same word of self-control. It's that I am not being ruled by my passions, by being prudent, being wise, not just jumping after the first thing that comes to mind or the first thing that my emotions lead me to but being self-controlled. Upright is the idea of being just, walking on the right path, the idea of justice. Holiness is the idea of being set apart, that our lives look different, that there is more and more purity in our lives, that even our motives behind what we do are pure, and that we really desire to be more and more set apart for God and what he has for us. And then disciplined, this is a big one. In one way, this is kind of the opposite of all this, right, the idea of discipline is not doing those things. But I think it's a lot more than that, discipline is the idea of doing the little things, of putting those little things in place that oftentimes we don't want to do so that we can become the people we want to become. It's putting the little things in place that we don't want to do, so we can become the people that we want to become, or more importantly, the people God wants us to become.

Eric Estes: [00:30:51] And that's how it works, it's not just all of a sudden, hey, I'm going to change, I'm going to be more hospitable, a lover of good, controlled, upright, whatever, it's that slow and steady drip. And so we have to put rhythms in place, and maybe that's just a time with the Lord every single day. And you might go, you know what? I spent time with the Lord, and he didn't change a thing. That's not how discipline works, it's not how anything works, right? Discipline is putting those habits in place that over time, will make a big difference. If you think about a rock, and you think about a drop of water hitting that rock, it does what? Nothing. But over the years, over drip, drip, drip, drip, and what happens? It starts to shape that rock; it starts to hollow out and cave that rock. And that's the power of discipline, when we put those little things into our lives, then over time, we become shaped to be more and more the people that God has called us to be, to be upright, to be above reproach in all of these areas, and to be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. That's what it looks like, that's a pattern of observable integrity, and that's what God is saying. First and foremost, when you are looking at leaders, look for these characteristics, these qualities. Not because they're just so good, but because that is the fruit of something deeper underneath.

Eric Estes: [00:32:25] And I want to pause just for a second to make sure that this is super clear because it would be really easy for me to go through this list. And by the way, I would encourage you all to go through this list as you're in your time with the Lord this weekend, and just look at these things, and examine your own life against these things, and how God, would you like me to grow in this? But it would be really easy for us to look at this list and go, oh, okay, that's what a Christian is, a Christian does those things. Okay. All right, let me start, I want to be a Christian, so I'm going to start doing that, right? That's not what a Christian is, that's not the meaning of being a Christian. A Christian is someone who follows Jesus and is someone who looks at this list and goes, I fall short of that list, looks at their own life and knows that they've sinned against God, that they have rebelled against him. And then it's someone who knows that there's only one person who has done everything on this list, and that one person is God Himself, who took on human flesh in the form of Jesus, and Jesus came to earth, and he lived a perfect life. He was the most hospitable, he loved good more than anyone, he was self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. That was Jesus, he lived it perfectly, and then he set it all aside, he died for, he laid his own life down when he didn't deserve it, and he was above reproach in all things. They couldn't land a charge that stuck on him, but yet he laid it all down in order to take the penalty that we deserve. For this incredible thing that happens when we trust in Jesus, when we follow him, all of the guilt that we have from not doing these things, from not living for God, for rebelling against him is transferred to Jesus and he paid for it on the cross. And then all of his goodness, all of his right standing with God is transferred to us. And when God looks at us, if we're followers of Jesus, he says he sees Jesus's rightness, his goodness. And then this incredible thing happens, once we get that, once we really understand that, and we're grateful for what Jesus has done for us, he starts to change us from the inside out. It's not any longer like that I have got to really try hard at this, as we spend more and more time with him, and he shapes us like that drop of water on the rock. He makes us, over time, more hospitable, more of a lover of good, more self-controlled, more upright, more holy, and more disciplined. For some, that happens quickly; for some, it takes a long time. For some in certain areas, there's a lot of sin in there to be dislodged and it takes time to work through that, but as we keep pressing into God more and more and more, then we become more and more godly, more and more like Jesus, and that's the goal, that's that godly living that God is calling us to in the book of Titus. That's what it looks like to be a Christian, to trust that Jesus did it for us.

Eric Estes: [00:35:41] The last thing I want to look at is the weight of godly leadership. So we've looked at the need for godly leadership, we've looked at the qualifications for godly leadership, now I want to look at the weight of godly leadership. Because there is a significant weight to this role and to this job, for an overseer, that's an elder, in verse 7, "For an overseer, or an elder, is God's steward." I kind of talked about that a little bit, before, but what I want us to see is that God's steward is the idea of a caretaker, that that he has put certain people in charge of a group, just like a wealthy landowner would put someone in charge of his land, and his business, and his family, and all those things for a certain period of time. And so that's the weight of this leadership, is that God has entrusted the leadership of his people to them, the people. But he didn't leave them alone in that, he gave him the Holy Spirit to work through it.

Eric Estes: [00:36:39] But there's a weight to that. I want to point out, in Hebrews 13 verse 17, he writes this, "We are to obey our elders." And he says, "For they are keeping watch over your souls." Then here's where it's really hard, "As men who will give account." He says those who are in leadership, those who are serving as elders, will give an account for how they have shepherded people, how they have taken care of what God has given them, but there is a weight of responsibility to this role.

Eric Estes: [00:37:14] And then, not only that, but in verse 9 we see that "The elder, the leader, must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught." This idea of holding firm, it's a really strong word. When I think of that, I think of an anchor, right? Many of you are probably boaters. When you go out in the lake, turn the engine off, and you just kind of drift. You'll drift wherever the wind and the currents take you. But when you lower that anchor down, and if you can actually get it to grab on, right, and it and it holds firm, that boat's not going anywhere. So the wind can do whatever it wants, the tides and the currents can do whatever they want, and that boat's going to stay steady. And that's the picture that we have, that we are to hold firm, that the elders, the leaders are to hold firm to the trustworthy Word of God.

Eric Estes: [00:38:12] One of our core values is the authority of Scripture, that that is who we are as a church, is to hold firm. One of the things that we see in this is that the elders are in authority over the church, but they are under the authority of God's Word. And so part of this is, is that they should love God's Word, they should know God's Word, they should lead us in God's Word, and trust in God's Word, this idea of trustworthy word. And it's one thing to say we believe something, and then it's another thing, as we do life, to really work that out.

Eric Estes: [00:38:51] So this is the charge and the weight of the role of elders to hold firm to God's Word. And then he gives two different ways to do that. He says the first one is to be able to give instruction. So number one is to give instruction and sound doctrine. And then number two is to rebuke, okay? So two different voices, someone once said, from an elder. The first one is to give instruction. And this word here, it literally means to call alongside. So it's that a word of encouragement, that we're to use God's Word to encourage the people and encourage each other to come alongside, and our elders do a fantastic job of doing that. And then the idea here is, this is really interesting to see this, this word sound doctrine, we often think of doctrine as dry or boring, but it's those core beliefs. The word sound here is actually, the Greek word has the same root as hygiene. You think, well, that's kind of weird, but it's that idea of healthy. It's that healthy doctrine. The truth, as we lean into the truth, it's a healthy thing, it brings healing, it feeds us, and it nurtures us. So that's one voice, and it's the feeding and nurturing of it. Jesus said that you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Right? So that's one voice.

Eric Estes: [00:40:13] But the other voice is then to rebuke those who contradict it. And if you think about the context here of when this was written, Paul's biggest concern is that. And you think about the early church, they had all kinds of things stacked against them, right? They didn't have any money, how are they going to survive? They've got this message, but who's going to believe this? They're being persecuted left and right, but those things aren't the biggest concern, those are external things that they know God will take care of. The biggest concern is that false doctrine, and false teaching, will sneak into the church, and the church will grow corrupt from the inside out. So the role of the elder is also not just to shepherd the sheep, but also to guard against the wolves, and to make sure that that we are standing firm. You might picture it, there's a scene in Ezekiel 3 where he talks about the watchman on the wall who protects everybody else in the city by watching out for those false ideas and culture that could sneak in. If that doesn't resonate with you, maybe you think of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Do you remember that one? He said I stand on that wall so that you can sleep at night, right? And that's the role of the elder, of godly leadership, to hold firm to God's Word. And it's not easy, there are a lot of things in our culture that, are that are pushing against it, but we hold firm to God's Word in the midst of it.

Eric Estes: [00:41:45] Now I want to take us to. How does that play out at 121? But there's one piece I want to circle back to in this whole thing that we kind of skimmed by earlier, but I think it's important, especially as we talk about how it plays out here. And that is this, you saw earlier that he said an elder is a man above reproach and a husband of one wife. So as we look at Scripture, as we look at this passage in Titus, as we look at First Timothy, what we see is that this role of elder, God has designed it for men, not just any man, but certain qualified men in this role. Now how we understand that is this, that men and women are equal in value, in dignity, and everything. And God calls men and women both into ministry, and into living out their faith, and into leadership, both in the church and out of the church. But there's one particular role, this role of elder, that is reserved for men, godly, qualified men in that role.

Eric Estes: [00:42:50] And we might not understand that. One thing that was helpful in thinking through that is the Trinity. So if you think about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all three are equal, but yet they have different roles. So maybe that's helpful, and maybe it's something that we just don't understand why he would do that or what they do. Because we have women all throughout this church who are who are excellent leaders, and God has given them a place to lead and to exercise those gifts within the church. But when we lean on God's Word and trust in him, we see that this particular role is carved out specifically for men. And I get that not everyone's going to agree with that, and we're welcome to have dialog about that and talk about that, I certainly understand that, but that's how we see God's Word played out in this.

Eric Estes: [00:43:39] Now, how does this play out at 121? We have right now, currently, we have seven elders who lead our body. And I'll give you their names in a minute so you can kind of be praying for them. But these seven men, one of them, you know, is Ross. so he's the only staff member or paid person in the elders? The other six are what we call lay elders. They work in other different environments, but they've met these criteria, and they've been called into this role of elders. And they have been, for each time that there's an opening and we need to an elder, we mention it to the church and we say, if you know of anybody that meets these criteria, then send them to the elders and the elders work through that, pray through that, there's a process they work through as they select the who would be in that that next role as an elder. And God has done some just incredible things through our elders. What they do is first and foremost they pray, they are praying over every decision that has to be made at this church, and they are praying that everybody is being shepherded and guided in this. They also provide accountability, they give us accountability as a staff, and as members of the church. They also are given oversight, they kind of look over all the finances and all that kind of stuff of the church, and they are incredibly faithful men. I have loved what God has done in this church, both with the elders we have now and the elders in the past, that they have been men who are humble. Who sometimes have to set aside their own personal desires or bents, or what they think is most important, for what is best for the whole church. I love that they work behind the scenes. And they struggle and wrestle through some hard, hard things, holding firm to the Word of God, protecting the church, trying to do what we are called to do, to lead people to live for Jesus Christ. And in the lives of people, that gets messy sometimes, there are layers of sin they have to wade through, there's church discipline, there's all these kinds of things that they as elders have to work through, and they are faithful in what they do and how they do that.

Eric Estes: [00:46:00] As a minister, as a staff member, I am so grateful and feel so comforted that we have elders that will A. hold me accountable, and then B. will support and give us what we need to do the mission that God has called us to do.

Eric Estes: [00:46:21] What I want to do, as we wrap up, is we've kind of seen this vision of how God has designed the church and the need for elders, the qualifications for elders, the weight of elders. And it raises the last question, which is, what do we do with this? I want to suggest a couple of things. First of all, my hope is that now that we understand the design of this and we can better trust in the leadership of our church, that we know that that authority comes from God, and that we can come under the leadership of our church.

Eric Estes: [00:46:52] Secondly, that we might that we would start praying regularly for our elders. They wrestle with difficult things, and they need our prayer. So here in a minute, I'm going to put their names up here, and we're going to pray together, for our elders in just a minute here. And I want to encourage you, when I put that up there to take a picture of it, and then to be praying for our elders, maybe it's one day a week, and what the decisions they have to make and what they have to walk through.

Eric Estes: [00:47:20] And then finally, the last thing that I hope we can gain from today is just this glimpse of what it looks like to walk in godliness. We went through a lot of different markers of what does godliness look like. And maybe as you spend time with the Lord here in a minute, to just kind of wrestle through which one of those areas do I need to grow in? Maybe I haven't been increasing in that. Maybe it's how I love my spouse. Maybe it's how I am leading my family. Maybe it's am I caring for others and being hospitable? Maybe it's am I loving and desiring what is good, am I thinking about that? Am I just, am I holy, am I disciplined? What are those areas? Maybe what's one area where God wants to move in you? Not so I can perform better or do anything else, but purely out of what Jesus has done for us, because he made a way that we can walk in holiness and we can walk in godliness, and that way brings joy, and it brings fulfillment, and it brings life. So because of what Jesus did for us, we can grow in godliness together.

Eric Estes: [00:48:40] Please put these names up here. Our elders are Ross Sawyers, Steve Mills, Brandon Awalt, Jake LaMar, Charly Newton, Zach Cunningham, and Andy Whitwell. So right now, I'd like to pray for these men. I won't ask them to stand up because they don't want to be in the spotlight. So I'm not going to ask them to stand up, but I want us to pray for them specifically. So, Lord, thank you so much for today, thank you for gathering us together for this time of worship. And Lord, I pray that you have been glorified as we've sung, as we've prayed, as we've commissioned life group leaders, and as we've heard your word, Lord, I pray that you have been glorified. And Lord, I pray that you would stir in each of our hearts and move us into godliness, where our lives would be more and more of a reflection of the good news of what Jesus has done for us. And Lord, for each of these elders, I pray that you would watch over and protect them, I pray that you would protect their families from the attacks that that will come from the work that they are doing. Lord, I pray that you would give them faithfulness to stand to hold firm to God's Word, I pray that you will give them wisdom on how to navigate these situations. I pray that you would let them give clarity on where you are moving us and how you are leading us, Lord. And Lord, I pray for each of them, that they would grow more and more and their love of you, and their love of goodness. Lord, we pray for Ross as he leads us, we pray for Steve, we pray for Brandon, we pray for Jake, we pray for Charly, we pray for Zach, and we pray for Andy. Lord, encourage, guide, and guard these men. And Lord, for us as a church, Lord, I pray that you would help us to move more and more confidently and boldly in what you've called us to do, and you would grow us in godliness. And Lord, that we, as we walk out of here today, and as we walk out of here every day, we'd be more encouraged and live more of a godly life that reflects you, that we would put on and adorn the truth that we know to be true, and that is you, Jesus, who died for us. Take just a minute and pray on your own. And ask yourself, where is God stirring and leading you today?

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051