It’s not for the faint of heart. Paul lays out requirements for ministry that serve as barbed wire obstacles that every church planter has to either crawl over, or walk away from. If you think you’ve got what it takes to press forward in the call to lead, you will get hung up on them, and need to spend some time unhooking yourself. As a veteran planter, Paul knew what would happen if these men hadn’t challenged themselves before being challenged on the field of battle. Often, a someone’s gifting can outrun their character. If their character isn’t put through the ropes, they can be a walking liability. Putting a Springfield Garand M1 rifle in the hands of any recruit is arming somebody with a dangerous weapon. Ministry is no different. A disqualified minister can do damage to the wrong side if he has not been properly vetted.
Before you’re ready for Jump School, you have to go to Boot Camp, otherwise known as Basic Training. In the Christian’s personal life, he takes the bus ride to Basic with Jesus and has his identity stripped away as he’s completely remade. He is reforged from the inside out, and the process is painful. Basic Training is the foundation of all that a soldier is. Boot Camp programs the way he thinks, acts, and reacts. When a soldier can’t think straight, he falls back on his Basic Training. That training was designed to embed itself into the soldier himself; become his unconscious thought; instinct. In the scripture, we are not programmed by instinct, but led by the Spirit.
A Spirit led believer may be led to lead others. When that happens, there is another wave of requirements, more demanding than bootcamp. No soldier wants to have to go through Hell Week twice, yet leadership requires a high standard of the ability to lead him or herself before they can lead others. “Greater is the one who can control his own spirit than one who can take a city” (Proverbs). To ensure that a leader is up to the task, the U.S. military requires an enlisted soldier to attend OCS (Officer Candidate School).
Paul reminds Timothy and Titus of the basic training that has honed their character, but sets forth a first century version of OCS. In these letters, Paul lists character qualifications that are mandatory traits, not optional extras for any leaders. In order for Titus to complete their assignment in Crete and Ephesus, Paul instructed them both to locate and identify men and women of character before they were good to go.
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