“Sober-minded…” (Titus 1:8)
What qualifies someone for leadership among God’s people? Surely, there must be a sense of calling, and the heart and gifts to match the calling. But those things are not enough, even if one were to add ambition to them. When God speaks of what qualifies someone for leadership, He speaks of character.
The list of character given in 1 Timothy 3 and here in Titus 1 not only gives us the character to look for in leaders and potential leaders, but it also gives us an important way to measure Christian maturity. The more this list describes our character, the more like Jesus we are.
These lists are more than measures of character, they are also goals to reach for. When we measure ourselves against a list like this and come up short, it gives us a direction to reach for. We trust that the truth of the gospel means we can be forgiven through what Jesus did for us on the cross, and that the new life He gives us can cause these qualities to grow within us.
The ancient Greek word we translate sober-minded (sophron) has the idea of being self-controlled, clear-thinking, and sensible. That’s a quality that seems to be in short supply today. We see this especially on social media and the internet, where people are so quick to rush to extreme opinions and statements, usually and little evidence.
The sober-minded person is not so quick to rush to judgment. Clear thinking is important to them. They aren’t constantly joking about everything, but they know how to deal with serious subjects in a serious way. In the mind of the Apostle Paul, this was an important quality in a leader. He used this root word ten times in his short letters to Timothy and Titus.
Warren Wiersbe wrote of this quality, “This does not man he has no sense of humor, or that he is always solemn and somber. Rather it suggests that he knows the value of things and does not cheapen the ministry or the Gospel message by foolish behavior.”
When it comes to foolish behavior, sometimes preachers can be the worst! Some preachers will do anything ridiculous to draw a crowd or please a crowd. I think God wants a preacher of His word to be serious about God’s message without taking himself so seriously.
Paul told us in another place using the same root word for sober-minded. Paul wrote, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
It’s not clear thinking to think too highly of yourself! May God give us clarity of thought about ourselves, about our present age, and most of all about God’s truth.