“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—” (Titus 1:5, NKJV)
Titus was a Gentile who had come to faith in Christ – possibly even led to Christ by the Apostle Paul himself. For a time, he had worked with Paul in ministry on the island of Crete. Paul had now moved on and left Titus to lead the people of God in Crete. The New Testament book of Titus is Paul’s instructions to this pastor. From this one verse, I want to make several observations….
1) The people of God are to be led. This doesn’t mean domineering, “my way or the highway” attitudes, but it does mean strong leadership. Organizations (churches included) do not fix themselves. The tendency is always “status quo.” The dictionary defines it this way…status quo: the existing condition or state of affairs. The only way out of the status quo in any organization is leadership.
2) We must define what is lacking. In his great book Good to Great, Jim Collins says that every organization needs to face the cold hard facts, no matter how cold and how hard they are. We cannot deal with an issue until we talk about it and define it. In a church, there is one thing that often keeps us from seeing what is lacking: FAMILIARITY. Over the years in church life, I have found that familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt but it does almost always breed apathy. A church that stays only with what is familiar and comfortable for an extended period of time will be a peaceful church but it won’t likely be a very effective one.
3) We must get a vision of a more effective day. It is not enough to simply define problems. Nothing can be “set in order” until there is a clear picture of what “in order” looks like. That is the point of vision.
4) We must lead the people of God toward a better future. The Apostle Paul told Titus “for this reason I left you in Crete…” The reason Titus was there was to lead the people of God. Some churches change quickly and some churches change slowly. Some churches process leadership and make decisions faster than others. Every church is different and must be led differently. Yet, every church must be led. If we aren’t leading the people of God, then we aren’t being obedient.
Leadership isn’t for the faith of heart. Not everyone wants to be led. Change is hard. No matter how clearly and how often you communicate, someone will be confused. No matter what you do, someone will be unhappy. Criticism will come. Pastors and church leaders, please be assured of this one fact: people will be upset, criticism will come, and someone will be unhappy EVEN IF YOU DO NOTHING AND TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONE. It comes with the territory for anyone in a leadership position. Make sure you are spending your life enduring the pain of leadership while you are leading the people of God to a better future.
A Prayer for the Future
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.
Sir Frances Drake Quoted in OC Missionary Prayer Letter of Jeanie Curryer, September, 1997