THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
A MULTI-FACETED ROLE
Today’s readings contain many different realities about
a servant leader who is called to be an elder. He is a man
of many roles. No, not a Jack of all trades but master of
none. Rather, he has multi-faceted roles all compatibly rolled
like Paul, he is “a slave of God”
(Ti 1:1a). He belongs to God. His life in no longer his own.
He has been purchased by the blood of Jesus. He lives to serve
Christ and his Church.
he is an “apostle of Jesus Christ”
(Ti 1:1b). He is one who is sent. He stands in God’s
place, to accomplish divine work. He attends to prayer and
the ministry of the word.
he is an evangelizer, who, like Paul, was
an instrument “who indeed at the proper time revealed
his word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted by
the command of God our savior” (Ti 1:3). Jesus commands
his disciples to proclaim the gospel of salvation. He looks
to rapid and massive evangelization.
he is “God’s steward” (Ti
1:7a). God has entrusted to him His divine work. He makes
use of what God provides--his time, talent and treasure--for
the good of the Kingdom.
he is a shepherd. He serves “for the
sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones and the recognition
of religious truth” (Ti 1:1c). He takes care of God’s
flock, looking to preserving and strengthening their faith,
by teaching and formation in religious truth.
he is a presbyter, an elder in the community,
participating in governance. Paul directed Titus to “appoint
presbyters in every town” (Ti 1:5). They took care of
the communities that had been formed.
That is quite a role and responsibility. It requires a high
degree of moral uprightness, needed to do divine work. His
morality is in relation to God, to his family, to brethren
in the community. He must be without blame.
his relationship with God is in place. He is “a lover
of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled”
his family life is in good order. He should “be blameless,
married only once, with believing children who are not accused
of licentiousness or rebellious.” (Ti 1:6).
his relationships with others are above reproach. He is “blameless,
not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive,
not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable” (Ti 1:7-8a).
Further, the servant leader who is an elder must possess certain
necessary virtues, especially in relation to his task of caring
for the body.
he must be orthodox in his teaching, “holding fast to
the true message as taught so that he will be able both to
exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.”
(Ti 1:9). He knows what is right and just and true.
he must cause no scandal among his members, or “cause
one of these little ones to sin.” (Lk 17:2b). Scandalous
behavior by leaders can lead members to a weakening or loss
of faith, causing them to stumble and even fall away. Jesus
issues a stern warning: “Things that cause sin will
inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they
occur.” (Lk 17:1).
he must call out his members if they sin. “If your brother
sins, rebuke him” (Lk 17:3b). He is not to be politically
correct, just accepting the sinner without talking of his
he must be merciful. He forgives, even “seven times
in one day” (Lk 17:4a). He is not judgmental or condemning.
It is simply that “if he repents, forgive him.”
he is continually growing in faith. He asks the Lord, for
himself and for his peers, “Increase our faith.”
(Lk 17:5). He confidently looks to the power of such faith.
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would
say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted
in the sea, and it would obey you.’” (Lk 17:6).
Impossible? Moses parted the Red Sea. Joshua stopped the movement
of the sun across the heavens for a whole day. Nothing is
impossible with God, if you have faith.
You can see how important is the task of a servant leader
who is an elder. His ultimate aim is to help bring everyone
in his care to heaven, leaving no one behind. He clings to
“the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie,
promised before time began” (Ti 1:2).
this regard, he helps form and bring his members to holiness,
to prepare them for entering into the holy city, the New Jerusalem.
“Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? Who can stand
in his holy place? The clean of hand and pure of heart”