I had a fascinating experience one day when I was conducting a Measure of a Man seminar in Chicago. Two men sitting near the front row were obviously interested in what I was sharing about the list of 20 qualities of maturity Paul outlined in his letters to Timothy and Titus. While I was speaking, they gave me positive feedback, not only with body language, but also with words such as: “That’s right, Gene”; “That’s true”; “That’s a good point.”
Encouraged, I went over and sat at their table during the next coffee break. I discovered they were both in upper management in a large steel mill in Gary, Indiana. Furthermore, they were both brand-new Christians. One of the men said, “Gene, this is outstanding material. We’ve heard it before, but not from the Bible.” The other man agreed, and then added, “Yeah, I’ve heard of Timothy before, but this Titus guy, I’ve never heard of him.”
At that moment, I knew I was relating to men who were not only new Christians, but who also knew little about the Bible. And I soon discovered these men were not new to the field of management. They made an observation I’ll never forget. “You know,” they said, “this is the first time we’ve heard this list of qualifications from the Bible. But we’ve learned from experience in hiring people for middle-management positions that these are the kind of men we’re looking for. We want employees who have a good reputation. We don’t want a man who is cheating on his wife or sleeping around, because chances are, he’ll cheat the company. We certainly don’t want a man who has all kinds of domestic problems. If he can’t handle his own family, how in the world is he going to handle people in our steel mill?” These men outlined—characteristic-by-characteristic—what they had learned from experience regarding mature qualifications. Interestingly, they realized that their basic list of mature qualifications closely paralleled Paul’s list.
I was intrigued and fascinated. We had been looking at qualities of maturity inspired by the Holy Spirit and outlined by Paul nearly 2,000 years ago. And here were two men who were new Christians and knew little about the Bible, but had learned by experience that this biblical profile is pragmatic and essential in selecting people who will serve in responsible positions.
When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, he referred to a “man of God” who is “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). This raises an important question. How do we recognize a “man of God”? What does he look like?
These are not new questions. They were going through Timothy’s mind when Paul left him in Ephesus to establish the Church. He had to deal with men who wanted to be spiritual leaders.
Paul commended these men for aspiring to serve in a leadership role. Yet he cautioned Timothy to make sure that each man who wanted to serve was a certain kind of man (see 1 Tim. 3:1).
Titus faced the same challenge in his ministry. Paul left him in Crete to appoint spiritual leaders in towns where they had established churches (see Titus 1:5). Again, Paul cautioned Titus to make sure that these men measured up to certain qualifications.
Apparently, Titus faced problems in Crete that were more difficult to resolve than those Timothy faced in Ephesus. Already, men who evidently claimed to be Christians had emerged and were destroying “whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain” (v. 11).1 Their primary motive was money. Titus not only faced the awesome task of discovering leaders and training them to be godly, but also to silence those who were “empty talkers and deceivers” (v. 10).
The two paragraphs in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus give us a powerful profile for testing our maturity levels in Christ (see 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-10). The following list depicts spiritual qualifications from both letters:
1. Overall spiritual maturity (a well-rounded man)
2. Above reproach (a man of good repute)
3. The husband of one wife (morally pure)
4. Temperate (balanced in words and actions)
5. Prudent (wise and humble)
6. Respectable (good role model)
7. Hospitable (unselfish and generous)
8. Able to teach (communicates sensitively in a nonthreatening and nondefensive manner)
9. Not addicted to wine (not addicted to substances)
10. Not self-willed (not self-centered and controlling)
11. Not quick-tempered (void of anger that becomes sinful)
12. Not pugnacious (not abusive)
13. Gentle (sensitive, loving and kind)
14. Peaceable (nonargumentative and nondivisive)
15. Free from the love of money (nonmaterialistic)
16. Manages his own household well (a good husband and father)
17. Loving what is good (pursues godly activities)
18. Just (wise, discerning, nonprejudiced and fair)
19. Devout (holy, devoted to God)
20. Self-controlled (disciplined)
When you first look at the list of spiritual qualifications in Paul’s two letters, you might conclude that Paul was exclusively outlining qualifications for men who serve in pastoral and teaching positions in the Church. Not so! While Paul was outlining criteria for selecting leaders, he was in essence saying, “Timothy, if a man wants to become a spiritual leader, that’s great. Just make sure he’s a mature man, and here’s how you can determine if he measures up to God’s standards as a Christian.”
In other words, some men will possess these qualities to serve as spiritual leaders. Some men will feel called to carry on this kind of ministry and others will not. The qualities, however, are goals for every Christian man. Paul simply pulled together several qualities he and other authors mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament and then compiled a marvelous profile for measuring our maturity levels in Christ.
As you evaluate your life, be on guard against discouragement. See this as a great opportunity to become the man of God you really want to become. Remember that Satan may be looking over your shoulder and whispering in your ear, “You’ll never become that kind of man. You’ve blown it too badly. There’s no hope for you. You’ll never break out of your old sin patterns.”
When Satan tempts you with these thoughts, meditate on these words:
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (Jas. 4:7-8).
Listen to God’s voice, which is saying, “I love you no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you are in your spiritual growth, no matter what your feelings. I’m on your side. I have not rejected you. You are My child. You can become a man of God, and I’m here to help you.”
The following questions are designed for group discussion after reading and studying the content of this chapter:
Write out one goal you’d like to achieve as a result of this study: