For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed. (Titus 1:7)
Paul gave Titus a list describing the character to look for in men who would be leaders among God’s people. The first item of the list was that a man should be blameless (Titus 1:6), and we previously looked at that character quality – here repeated in Titus 1:7. Our focus in this verse is the phrase that an overseer, a bishop, a leader among God’s people, would be not self-willed.
Self-will is the opposite of the nature of Jesus. Our Savior was and is the ultimate other-centered person, and a self-willed man or woman is a self-centered person.
Jesus said that if anyone would come to follow Him, he must deny himself (Matthew 16:24). When Jesus said this, He added an important phrase:If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Jesus said it this way to make the point that for someone to deny himself was like going to their crucifixion (to take up his cross).
The cross wasn’t about self-promotion or self-affirmation. The person carrying a cross knew they couldn’t save themselves. Denying self means to live as an others-centered person. Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps and to follow Him. This is following Jesus at its simplest: He denied self, He carried a cross; and so must those who follow Him.
Those who would be leaders among God’s people must lead in self-sacrifice. They must come to serve, and not to be served. They should not be selfish. They should not be arrogant, stubborn, or have a proud self-focus.
James 3:17 describes true wisdom: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield. Out of pure stubbornness, the self-willed man is not willing to yield. The self-willed man is determined to have his own way in everything. They think their judgment is always right and superior to everyone else. They expect everyone to pay honor to their wisdom and to always do things their way.
That isn’t godly leadership, and such self-willed men should not be appointed leaders among God’s people. Instead, leaders should be like Jesus who truly said of Himself I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me (John 5:30). We should be God-willed instead of self-willed.
There are times when a leader must make a stand and hold his ground. When that time comes, he must do it in a spirit of humility and with a humble searching that he makes his stand seeking after the will of the Father, not his own will.