Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Early Christian and Contemporary Leadership - Infusion of Values Then and Now

The word value in the global business arena has economic meaning, wealth accumulation, and product value to consumers. Value seems to imply, "What's in it for me." This is a false understanding of value from a Christian leadership perspective because it separates the value of things and segregates worth from the value of core beliefs. Therefore, this paper explores value as belief from the perspective of Paul's letter to Titus. There is a reach backward in time to understand Paul's short message to Titus and a return to the present to apply the message to contemporary leadership.
The world of Paul and Titus was undergoing radical change. A shift in spiritual and Old Testament values began changing because one man walked the earth for about 33 years. The profound nature of this man attacked the ideals and beliefs of people throughout the Mediterranean (Matera, 1996). Paul, a Greek Jew and Roman citizen, became an apostle after the ascension of Jesus and the Pentecost event in Acts chapter 2. Even Paul's selection was a radical departure from how the original twelve received their commission (Acts 22:6-10).
The Mediterranean became a breading ground for followers of a new faith in God through the teaching and preaching of apostles about a Jew named Jesus they came to believe was the Messiah, in Hebrew, or Christ, in Greek. Jewish Lawgivers considered Jesus a threat to their law (Matthew 22:18, Mark 12:16, Luke 20:26), and these radical Jesus believers were equally threatening (Acts 8:1, 11:19). How different is the time of Paul and Titus radically changing their world with the time of contemporary leadership today?
Humble beginnings A brief introduction to the letter of Paul to Titus in the Catholic Bible, The Way, tells of a high school athlete who felt it was his mission as a Christian and a student leader to share his beliefs with others, to lead from a Christian value-base. This student athlete felt his calling and walked-the-walk of Christian values and help bring others to Jesus. Titus had a calling also. Unlike the athlete of today with lengthy church history and teaching, Titus was a leader in a new faith following. Paul taught Titus to live the faith not just talk about it. The infusion of values in the Church at Crete was entrusted to Titus, a Greek convert, not originally from Jewish belief (Phillips, no date). This is where the lesson begins.
A brief history of Crete in the period of Paul's writing includes paganism and holding to many Greek traditions (Matera, 1996). People of Crete had a bad reputation among Mediterranean people of lying and deceitfulness. Yet, Paul with Titus established a foothold of Christianity in the main cities working together. Titus remained on Crete because Paul recognized his leadership.
Paul opens his letter by reducing himself to a slave of God and messenger of Jesus Christ (Titus 1:1). Contemporary thought places a negative value on being a slave; however, Old Testament references to servant of God appear to honor the servant rather than reduce him. Examples of this are found in Joshua 14:7 speaking of Moses, Psalm 89:3 and 2 Samuel 7:5, 8 referring to David, and 2 Kings 10:10 referring to Elijah. Thus, Paul adopted a servant leader and mentor role as he explains in 1:3 that in God's time He revealed His Good News to Paul so he could share it with everyone. Paul explains his command from God, entrusted by God, to do His work. As Paul proclaims himself a servant, he lifts Titus to a position of son in the affairs of the Lord (1:4-5). Although Titus is subordinate to Paul, Paul chooses to lift Titus to high stature next to Paul. Titus, a trusted member of Paul's mission on Crete, is entrusted with the great task of being a role model and selecting elders who are also role models in teaching the truth of God's greatness through Jesus the Christ.
Viewing this introduction from the eyes of contemporary leadership, Paul teaches the ethic of empowerment, mentoring, and promoting subordinates' through their knowledge and expertise. There is clear communication, sharing of vision and mission. Therefore, the ideal contemporary leader is a person who embodies the value of trust that leads to the ethic of empowerment, mentoring, and promoting. Paul introduces Titus to a concept of values-based leadership. Organizations undergoing radical change and the reculturing that results can exercise these values and ethics in a way that empower others to become, as Titus, a disciple of the leader, mentored by the leader, and entrusted with the vision. Zigarelli (2002) gives an example of a Christian leader being an encourager of others at work. As Paul encouraged Titus, Christian leaders need to share encouragement. Values Infusion: Then versus Now Titus Chapter 1 - Elder versus Contemporary Leader Paul writes the importance of soundness of elders selected by Titus. In chapter 1 verse 6, Paul tells Titus to pick men who highly thought of for their good lives, of sound character. The Greek1 words used are anegkletos, meaning blameless or cannot be called into account, unreprovable, and didaskalia te hygiainouse, meaning to teach sound doctrine as well as being healthy, whole, or safe.
Titus and the elders must be standard bearers of the church living wholesome lives and ministering to health of the community. Paul repeats this theme throughout his letters and Jude writes similarly in Jude 1:2-5. Elders, according to Titus 1:6-9, must have good families, obedient children, not be proud an impatient, be blameless, not drunkards, sensible and fair, enjoy guests in their homes. Again, Greek terms, used about elders' children, include anypotakta, children who are believers and not rebellious, and aischrokerde, not fond of sordid gain. They must adhere to the truth as taught them, and be able to teach others. Ministering to the health of the community, as Paul tells Titus helps guard against false teachers and "the demands of men who have turned their backs on the truth" (1:14). Paul uses another term with stronger implications, purity of the elder. This purity means several things (Titus 1:15, 16): First, it means clean in contrast to dirty. Second, it means free for defilement. Third, pure means being free from corruption (Duncan, 2004 and Phillips, no date). Understanding these three usages of pure, we develop an understanding of being morally good or someone who is not of mixed values and ethics.
Paul does not mince terms when addressing the behaviors of Cretans. In 1:12, Paul calls them vicious brutes and lazy gluttons. In verse 1:16, the original Greek phrase, "... pros pan ergon agathon adokimoi1" translates to "... unfit for any good work." Among these people, Titus is to establish new faith communities. In early church leadership on Crete, Paul establishes a doctrine of soundness and purity at the core of belief and behavior. Paul expresses a pure doctrine of faith and trust in God leading to soundness in faith. Note: 1. Matera, F. J. (1996). New Testament Ethics: The Legacies of Jesus and Paul. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
Exploring values-based leadership from these teachings, the contemporary leader seeks subordinate leaders known for their honesty and truth in character. This group understands the shared vision and is able to share the mission. Contemporary leaders are open to others and willing to share knowledge. These contemporary leaders must understand the relationship between themselves and their followers. Further, these people respect the dignity of those they lead. Successful infusion of values involves inclusion not exclusion in decision-making. Inclusion also guards against inaccurate information processing (false teaching) (O'Toole, 1996). Purity as a value in contemporary leadership takes into account integrity - not losing sight of goals or compromising principles. Leaders trust, listen to, and respect followers. Taking a lesson from Paul and Titus, contemporary leaders enlist others who share vision and can communicate it to followers in a way that urges followers to see an ideal, therefore, seeking it for themselves. A parallel found in reading Zigarelli (2002), is that Christian leaders work as though their tools belong to God, provided by God, so they can do their work.
Titus Chapter 2 - Sound Teaching versus Contemporary Mentoring Thus far, the discussion is of finding strong elders of good character who are sound, pure, and capable of sharing the faith to all. This model of early church leadership focuses on constant checking and assurance that elders support the faith structure with trust in God, elders' lead exemplary lives, are sound, and pure. Chapter 1 explains how we know an elder of the church by their sound teachers. Chapter 2 begins reciting how we know the church by sound teaching. Chapter 2 adds to core values stated in chapter 1. Adding to faith and trust in God, purity and soundness, chapter 2 adds that older men must do "everything with love and patience" (2:2). Men must not drunkards or use abusive language toward others (2:3). Older Women must teach younger women of goodness, caring for their husbands and children, being sensible and clean in their minds (2:3-5). Young men must take life seriously, be examples to others, do good deeds, and reflect love for the truth (2:7,8). Paul's lesson for the church is discipline and self-control, "to live good, God-fearing lives day after day" (2:12). Paul instructs Titus to mentor, encourage, and correct when necessary. Paul's own encouragement to Titus is exercise authority as a leader having the right to do so (2:15).
In the contemporary world, slavery as known in the time of Paul and Titus does not exist. Paul teaches that slaves must be obedient to their masters, be trustworthy and honest in all affairs of their masters (Titus 2:9,10). For the contemporary organization, followers must obey the policies and procedures from their leaders. Guinness (2000) appears to explain this in modern terms that parallel Paul, "The qualities of good work are not the qualities of good character" (pg. 200). The contemporary leader has responsibilities as well, in their teaching; they must exercise self-control and discipline - set the example. Leading by example means being alert and ready to lead, avoiding excessive intoxicants, according to Paul, not be heavy drinkers.
O'Toole (1996) provides an example of this when he writes that leaders must provide every opportunity for followers to experience their full potential. Reading Zigarelli (2002), one sees an attempt to balance needs of people in the organization to needs of the organization. What Zigarelli suggests is a point of intersection where leaders exercise a service role to both people (workers, followers) and organizational requirements. This does not appear different from the writing of Paul in Titus that leaders infuse values by leading good lives recognizing that God shares the gifts of the Spirit equally with all.
Titus Chapter 3 - Public Demonstration of Values It is not enough to have teachers and teachings of values if displayed only within the narrow scope of the Church community. The communities of Christians do not exist separately from the rest of civilization. Paul knows how important it is to obey civil law. Evans (1998) describes this as a Christian duty to be subordinate to governmental authority. As the elders are not to speak ill of anyone, the entire church is not to speak ill of those in civil authority, obey them, and render good against evil.
People faced the necessity for obedience to God and obedience to civil authority. Paul tells Titus to teach this observance to law because the good works of the Church community shows others their freedom from evil indulgences and, according to Barnes (2006), "it was the design of God in redeeming them, that they should manifest every kind of virtue." From this, Titus teaches avoidance of strife and contentiousness over the law. Harper and Fellow (1999) explain that Chapter 3 is a chapter of commission. By commission, elders pastor in their communities and are evaluated by their service rather than their ladder climbing.
It is not a giant leap from Titus to contemporary leadership. Hoffman (2006) linked obedience to God's law with the laws of nature and the laws of men in the writing of St. Thomas Aquinas. In Greek philosophy, the search for knowledge began with man, and worked toward nature, then God. However, Aquinas, himself a philosopher and Christian leader reversed the philosophy making God first and man last in the order of discovery of truth. Therefore, leaders in organizations today need to recognize the higher order value of spiritual life to pull the elements of secular life into focus. Paul to Titus appears to teach that obedience to God's desires results in obedience to all things. Understanding Titus in Contemporary Leadership
Within each of the short chapters in Titus, there is a theme. The first theme is competent leadership and selecting subordinate leaders who have and can share the leader's values. The second theme explains how leaders must display their values through action with in the organization. The third theme is openly behaving with respect and obedience to those appointed over up even in the government.
Harper and Fellow (1999) title their discussion of Titus as, "Keeping Watch over Ourselves." Already mentioned, leaders have a commission to serve not to presume position or power. They convey six other elements of contemporary leadership to value.
1. Character, the bedrock of leadership
2. Communion, living in Christ, living in grace, having peace. The value of communion allows a leader to Sheppard and serves members of their organization.
3. Conviction, having clarity
4. Competence, learned through receiving good mentoring
5. Contextualization, different leaders have different traits and abilities, leadership is not one-size-fits-all. Apply appropriate leadership skills where they fit.
6. Community, leadership within an organization. Recognizing all members seek a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
Guinness (2000) helps connect these values in a single thought. He cites Chesterton (1924) writing a biography of St. Francis Assisi. In this writing, Chesterton stated, "... he [Francis] had found the secret of life in being the servant and the secondary figure" (pg. 216). Conclusion In the introduction, the position taken is the word value has implicitly become one of economic meaning, wealth accumulation, and product value to consumers. As introduced, value is a singular word. Values, plural, in the terms of Titus and contemporary leadership imply a standard of behavior. From Paul to Titus, to elders of the Church, to interactions with others, to obedience of God's law and laws of man, values form the standards of behavior. This paper takes the position that Christian values are higher order importance than value. This paper also takes the position that contemporary leaders share these values in leadership of their organizations whether or not they call them Christian values. Remaining open for deeper examination in organizational development is the degree to which values influence value.

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