The Scriptorium

Teaching by Example

A pastor has three tools, and this is one of them. Titus 2.7, 8

Titus 2

Pray Psalm 4.2, 3.

How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood?
Selah
But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The LORD will hear when I call to Him.

Read Titus 2.7, 8.

Prepare.

1. What kind of example should Titus set for his flock?

2. Why is it so important that he set such an example?

Meditate.
Paul doesn’t want to get too far away from the responsibility of the pastor for helping the congregation entrusted to him achieve and sustain the good order that characterizes a healthy, growing church. 

The mention here of “good works” – the second now (1.16) – is another foreshadowing of the major emphasis to be insisted on at the end of this chapter and in chapter 3. Churches are to be distinguished as communities given to good works, and achieving this objective begins with those who preach and teach. Personal example is one of three tools a pastor has for equipping his flock, as we have seen. He must model the good works for which he is equipping his congregation; his teaching must be solid, dignified, and sound. Such teaching requires careful and diligent preparation on the part of pastors, whose congregations must not begrudge them the time it takes to make proper preparation for teaching and preaching (2 Tim. 2.15). Pastors must be careful in all their teaching that they not leave themselves vulnerable to unjust criticism, either by their course of life, the content of their teaching, or the manner in which they deliver their instruction.

Paul might have put this word of instruction at verse 1. However, it seemed wiser to him to inject it in the middle of his teaching about the duties of church members. Thus he provides a kind of structural reinforcement in the middle of this chapter to emphasize what he says at the beginning and the end. 

Jesus said that no learner would surpass the teaching or example of his teacher (Jn. 13.16). Those who teach must be more diligent in preparation and in their own learning, as the Lord scrutinizes them more carefully, and regards them with greater accountability (Jms. 3.1). In the churches, which are the epicenters of Kingdom expansion, and of the outworking of God’s plan to redeem and restore the world, it would be impossible to overestimate the importance that pastors and teachers must give to their own labors and lives.

Reflect.

1. What “pattern” does the pastor establish for the members of the congregation?

2. How would you describe the relationship between a pastor’s example and his teaching?

3. How did Paul describe the impact of a good example and sound teaching on those who oppose the Gospel?

There are two things, conscience and reputation; conscience for yourself, reputation for your neighbor. Those who, being clear in their consciences, neglect their reputations, are being cruel; especially if they find themselves in this position. The apostle writes about this to his disciple: “Showing yourself to all around you as an example of good works.” Augustine (354-430), Sermons 355.1

Lord, to whom can I be an example of Christ today? Give me grace for each opportunity, so that I…

Pray Psalm 4.1-3.

Pray that the Lord might allow you to increase in Christ-likeness today, and that He will give you grace to resist temptation and persevere in obeying Him.

Sing Psalm 4.1-3.
Psalm 4.1-3 (Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent)
Answer when I call, Lord Jesus, God of all my righteousness! 
Bend Your holy ear, relieve us from all terror, all distress! 
Lord, receive our prayer, release us; send Your grace to save and bless! 

Wicked men reproach and scorn us, loving what is vile and vain. 
God with grace will shield and adorn us through the Savior’s blood and pain. 
Jesus, You have bought and borne us; hear our cries for help again.

T. M. Moore

What are church leaders supposed to do in leading the Lord’s flock? Our workbook, Shepherding God’s Flock, will show you how to bring effective pastoral ministry and disciple-making into the everyday life of your church. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.