How To Rule The Unruly

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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A young man had just graduated from Bible school and wanted to be a pastor.  But when he was offered a temporary job as a police officer, he accepted it, thinking it might give him some good insight into human nature that would come in handy later in the ministry.  One of the questions on the police academy exam was, “What would you do to disperse an unruly crowd?”  The aspiring pastor thought for a moment, then responded, “I’d take up a collection.  That’ll disperse any crowd!”

Speaking of unruly people, the island of Crete where Titus was stationed (Tit. 1:5) had it’s share of them.  We know this because after Paul told him to ordain elders in the island’s churches, he told him the reason he needed to ordain them:

“For there are many unruly and vain talkers…” (Titus 1:10).

The dictionary defines the word “unruly” as people who don’t want to be ruled.  That’s probably why the only other people in the Bible who are called “unruly” are people who didn’t want to be ruled by the rulers of their local church.  Speaking of those spiritual leaders, Paul told the Thessalonians,

“…know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And… esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake… warn them that are unruly(I Thessalonians 5:12-14).

See the connection?  After speaking about rulers, Paul told them to warn the unruly.  In the context, these were obviously people who didn’t want to be ruled by the church’s pastor and elders.

But how could Paul have known that there were unruly men who didn’t want to be ruled by leaders in Crete?  Their churches didn’t have rulers yet!  Remember, Paul had left Titus in Crete to ordain elders (Tit. 1:5).  So how did Paul know that some of the Cretians were unruly?

Well, it was because of the way that pastors are supposed to rule.  Paul explained how leaders are to rule in the dispensation of grace when he told the Corinthians,

Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand (II Corinthians 1:24).

Pastors aren’t supposed to rule by having “dominion” over God’s people, that is, by dominating them.  People stand by faith, and faith comes by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).  That means pastors are supposed to rule by teaching people the Word, and then letting the Word rule them.  Beloved, the only way you are going to have any joy in life is if you let God’s Word rule your life!

But that’s how Paul knew there were unruly men in Crete.  When he was there among them, he had seen that there were Cretians who didn’t want to be ruled by the Word that he had taught them.  So he told Titus to ordain some elders to teach those unruly men more of God’s Word.

Perhaps you are thinking, “How would that help?  If they didn’t want to be ruled by God’s Word, why ordain leaders to give them more of His Word?”

The answer is that God doesn’t have a “Plan B” when it comes to helping people with their joy!  That means when people don’t want to be ruled by the Word, a pastor shouldn’t chuck the Scriptures and look around for something else to give them.  Instead, he should continue to teach the Word, and ordain elders to do the same.  You see, growing in the Word is a believer’s only hope of living the joyous Christian life God wants each of us to richly enjoy.

To the Reader:

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