In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 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
Titus has a hard calling. He’s the senior teaching pastor and overseer to the collection of churches on Crete. He’s preaching to his own hometown people. He’s choosing a precious few to be elders while passing over most. He’s confronting sinful behavior and exposing wrong doctrine. Is he encouraged to be as Jesus was in the temple, using whips to drive out money changers? Not according to the picture Paul paints here. He is told to present Himself with integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech.
It will work against him to try to be the life of the party. He can’t have a huge ego, striving to be the center of attention. He cannot be a jokester, nor a storyteller who embellishes content for greater affect. He cannot be more famous for witty one-liners than for sincere and profound revelation of the scriptures.
He must be known for integrity, not one who works the crowd. He must be sincere and trustworthy, not charismatic for the purpose of glorifying himself. He must be persuasive and clearly Spirit-driven, not smooth and manipulative. I’ve known bible teachers who possessed little charisma off the platform but were dynamic while they were teaching! They were awkward and tongue-tied one-on-one but had been eloquent with the scriptures earlier before the crowd. They were clearly Spirit-anointed, empowered outside of themselves for their most holy calling.
All of this points to a greater context where God’s people are told to speak with truth and grace. We are to be gracious truth-tellers, like Jesus. He is the one who said to an angry mob, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” John 8:46 His love and grace are His hallmarks, even while defending His Father’s glory. I believe it was David Platt who, when speaking of living in a way where grace and truth are perfectly balanced, said that ‘we should expose sin – but always with tears in our eyes.’ Sound words, serious posture, pure motives. The heart of the Father is seen in the lives of such servants.
When I consider what I must do to be loved and accepted by people, I’ve stepped outside Your will and people won’t trust me. Show me where I need to course correct. Amen