Firefighter Discipleship: Leadership Lessons from the Book of Titus.
“Training others up in the way they should go” is an important step in the discipleship process, which is to slowly and carefully develop someone into a mature Christian and a responsible leader” (NIV commentary on Titus).
In the fire service today mentoring appears to becoming a lost art. As leaders and veterans of our calling we are entrusted with a greater responsibility than we realize. Jesus commands us in the great commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Therefore we must be diligently and passionately seeking out those we can share the message of God’s hope, our experiences, and our skills with. By our obedient service to others they may be well equipped for the struggles yet to come. For by showing them the true source of our strength (Jesus Christ) they will remain steadfast to the faith long after our time has passed.
In the fire service, strong leadership in the face of negative circumstances can be a difficult road to travel. Paul provides us with many examples of how we should lead others in his letter to Titus. Paul faced innumerable hardships and references them as he is mentoring others. He defines leadership, defines Titus purpose, and outlines the necessary characteristics that he needs to model for others.
As we learn from these leadership lessons we see that a strong leader is also a responsible one. They understand that their calling must be based and built upon Jesus Christ and not on any person, title, or affirmation from others. Otherwise when trial and opposition comes their way they can quickly become disillusioned and disheartened. Therefore, to effectively lead requires a Godly vision for the future by making preparations to insure the process of leadership development continues long after the strong leader is gone.
Why is all this important?
A responsible leader cares more about the mission and the vision than they do about personal recognition. They know from the very beginning that training others up to assume key positions in leadership is mission critical. Paul recognized this and knew that the importance should be focused on Christ and not a person. Read his letters to Timothy and Titus and note how he is passionately, carefully, and slowly developing them into the future leaders for the church. Our lesson for today is that without mentoring, training, and encouraging others for the future we are failing to be obedient Disciples of Christ.
Here are some key characteristics and leadership lessons from Titus:
Has a strong marriage and strong family values: this person is faithful to their spouse.
Blameless- “not overbearing, not quick tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.” (Titus 1:7)
One who is passionately pursuing training others more than promoting themselves-Titus is a letter written from Paul to Titus. The letter was an example of Paul’s passion to train & equip Titus. Paul tells Titus “5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you.” (Titus 1: 5)
One who boldly speaks the truth in the face of false doctrine: 0 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Titus 1:10-11)
One who leads by example: “7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”(Titus 2:7-8)
One who is respectful to authority: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”(Titus 3:1)
One who avoids foolish arguments: “9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” (Titus 3:9-10)
As leaders in our homes, our churches, communities, and the fire service may we meditate on God’s word and pray for the Holy Spirit to equip us in these areas. So “we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17)
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries