An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Titus 1:6
The meaning of this scripture regarding elder’s children who are either believing or unbelieving, is unclear if traced back to the Greek language from which it came. The closest interpretation of ‘believe’ in this context is ‘faithful and trustworthy.’ With that in mind, it would no longer involve believing or unbelieving children. Rather obedient, respectful children or lawless and rebellious children. This correlates exactly with 2 Timothy 3:5 For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” This is about an elder’s ability to be a faithful overseer.
Elders are to manage two households well. 1.). His up-close and personal household ~ where there are believers and potentially unbelievers. 2.) And the household of God ~ where there will be believers and unbelievers. If a man cannot bring order and biblical management to the first, how will he bring the same to a church family?
Whether Christian leader, pastor, elder, or prominent bible teacher, many (perhaps the majority) lament that they have a child, or children, who have not embraced Jesus as Lord. Does that mean that none of these should be in ministry? To believe that a child’s salvation is totally dependent on a man’s fathering is unbiblical. Every child has a free will and must bear the weight of their own decision. Many are the children who have walked away from Jesus though they were raised in a home where children were discipled. (It is true that those raised in Christian homes have a greater chance of coming to saving faith, but it is still no guarantee.) Parents are to live out their faith but are not held responsible for whether a child ever surrenders his life to God.
Elders and other spiritual leaders might have three children who believe and one who does not. Does this disqualify him? Does having one unbelieving child mean that he has not managed his household well? How then, can three Christian children be explained? This is a difficult text and must be interpreted in the larger context of other scriptures where good leadership within an elder’s household is a pre-requisite for church leadership.
While children are under his roof, they will dwell within a culture of respect and submission to authority. What is the result? He takes this style of biblical leadership into the church and develops an even larger culture of respect and submission to God’s authority.
Father, may your Holy Spirit teach us well today and lead us into all truth regarding this scripture. May it free someone from guilt and a lifetime of shame. Amen