A Life Of Influence
We’re gonna look and see what the letter of Titus can teach us about being influencers.
That’s a buzz word right now in our culture. And it’s a really freaky word in my opinion. Because it used to be that the influencers in the world were people like Albert Einstein, Copernicus, you know, people who gave their lives to learning and the discipline of discovery. Now you can be a 13 year old with a YouTube channel. Or like Boram, do you guys know who Boram is? Probably not, but there are 30 million people who follow her on YouTube. She just purchased an $11.5 million dollar building in Seoul where she lives because her videos get so many views, that she’s now a multi-millionaire. One of her videos has over 340 million views and Boram… is a 6 year old girl, and she’s one of the most influential people on the planet. Just behind her is a 7 year old named Ryan who made $22 million last year for reviewing toys. These kids, and many other people in the world, have marketed being influencers so much so that there are now courses you can take on how to become an influencer, a person that others will want to follow and listen to.
That’s kinda what this letter to Titus is. It’s like Paul’s course on how to be the kind of influencer that God made you to be. Because Paul understood the influence he had on Titus. Look at what he says in verse 4: “To Titus, my true son in our common faith.” He calls Titus his true son. Now, they weren’t actually related, but the kind of relationship that had went further than blood in Paul’s mind. Titus was his TRUE son. Something united them that allowed for Paul to be the most influential force in Titus’ life. We don’t know a ton about Titus from the Bible, but we do know that he was a guy who joined up with Paul as he was going all over the world, talking about Jesus and starting churches. And eventually Paul just left Titus on this island in the Mediterranean Sea called Crete. Because Paul planted a church there and he wanted Titus to stay and continue to be influential in that church.
And Crete was a tough, tough island. Like, look at what Paul says about it down in verse 12: “One of their very own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true.” So he’s writing to a church full of Cretans, telling them what one of their own prophets a guy named Epimenides, said about them. The Cretans looked up to the guy, so they had to honestly be like, yeah, that’s us. And so Paul left Titus to be influential on this island of people who are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.
So guys, it doesn’t matter what YOUR context is, what your workplace or family or neighbors are like, God has placed you in the exact place where he wants you to be influential for him. He wants you to live a life of influence. It’s not gonna make you a multimillionaire, but it will make you so, so impactful in God’s Kingdom.
Alright check out how Paul starts this letter in verse 1: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” We’re gonna see 10 characteristics of godly influencers in this chapter, and the first is in the first word that Paul uses to describe himself. He says that he’s a SERVANT. A godly influencer is a servant. That’s how Paul saw himself. Not as a leader, even though he was basically a movement leader. Not as a pioneer or a guru or a sage. But a servant. Guys, lives usually aren’t transformed because of how much we can prove that we know. Lives are usually transformed by someone loving and caring for another person so much, that that person can’t help but receiving their influence. Maybe you had an incredibly influential intellectual in your past that really shaped you, but I would guess for most of us we were influenced greatly by people in our past who sacrificially served us. That’s how God’s Kingdom works. It’s not championed by the powerful and the popular, but by those who serve and raise others up as more important than themselves.
The people you’re influencing most are the people you’re serving most.
And the reason Paul’s serving God and them is for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness. For their faith and knowledge. Guys that tells me that Paul’s an influencer who CARES for his people. A godly influencer cares for the people God has given them to influence. He’s not looking for follows, for fame, for money, he’s influencing them so that their faith grows. He wants to see them more joyful in Jesus and more healthy spiritually. Do you care, really care for the people that God’s placed in your life? Maybe you’re a reluctant influencer, because there are people you know you’ve been called to influence but you don’t really like them, or they don’t really contribute anything good to your life. How you treat someone who can’t do anything for you, a true measure of your love. It may be that you’ve developed a habit of just using people, instead of caring for them.
Third, Paul’s doing all of this for God’s “elect.” Who are those people? The Bible talks about these elect people, people chosen by God to be his followers. And the Bible says that this is good news. And if you’re hearing that and your concerned about whether or not that’s you, that’s a good thing. Because people who aren’t concerned, who just run away from God, they’re not part of this group.
And the fact that there are dead people who God wants to breath life into absolutely motivated Paul to serve and care for lost, hurting, broken, sinful people. So that’s the 3rd thing, Paul was a MOTIVATED influencer. In Acts 18 Paul was in Corinth, a dangerous city of people who hated God, and at first he didn’t really want to be there and was probably looking for any excuse to leave, but then God says this to him: “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” He stayed there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them. What motivated Paul to evangelize? What motivated Paul to live on mission for Jesus? Election. The fact that God had a people in that city who were His kids, they just didn’t know it yet, and they needed to be influenced about who Jesus was.
Do you believe that? That God has a people who are HIS in your family, among your friends, in your neighborhood? And that God wants to use YOU to influence them to have new life. Does that motivate you?
Maybe you’re reading this and you know that you’re only going to be living in the islands for a year, or maybe 3-4. Do you believe that God could use you here in this community? Go HARD serving and caring for this community while God has you in it. Don’t just take experiences from it, be used by God to have a lasting influence for Jesus.
Look at verse 2: “in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” The influence that God’s given you in people’s lives, it’s weighty. It’s about eternity. Eternal life. And so that should make us PATIENT influencers. We’re not after just a quick decision and if we don’t get it, move on. We’re talking about people’s eternity here. Your influence has eternal impact. So much so that one author said it this way: “Your church is from eternity to eternity. Nothing is more significant than this. Nothing more important has happened in your town than what has happened in your church (other than what happens in other churches). Nothing.” We just passed another September 11th, and remembered an event that changed the course of human history. People typically somberly remember where they were, who they were talking to, because that was a moment that was massively important. But what happens in the church doesn’t just change human history, it changes eternity, forever! When one person is saved by Jesus, you’ve gained them as a brother or sister forever! So be patient in how you influence people. Be in it for the long haul.
And how are we gonna go about all of this? Look at verse 3: “In his own time he has revealed his word in the preaching with which I was entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” God revealed his good news, his gospel, his word, through preaching. Through people proclaiming with their speech who Jesus is, what He’s done, and the kind of life people can now have because of Jesus. So to be a Kingdom influencer, you’ve gonna SPEAK. That’s number 5, a godly influencer speaks about the good news of Jesus. Poor Francis of Assisi gets beat up a lot these days. Francis was a 12 century Christian who famously said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” And I get what Francis was trying to say. Your life better match what you’re talking about. But what God would say about our influence on others is that it is ALWAYS necessary to use words to communicate the gospel. Always.
Romans 10:13 says this: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him?” To be saved, to call on Jesus name, people need to hear about who Jesus is and what he’s done. If you want to have an eternal impact on the lives of people God has put in your life, you’ve got to speak about Jesus.
Look at verse 4-5: “To Titus, my true son in our common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town.” Paul was influencing Titus for a purpose; toward a goal. The goal was that he’d be able to be left behind to lead this church, and also to influence the people of that church. Titus was influencing people in the church so that they could be established as leaders in the church. For both of these guys, they were influencers with a PURPOSE. That’s number 6. Godly influencers influence with a purpose. For Paul and Titus that purpose was seeing God’s Kingdom expand and go forward. And that was all tied to people maturing in their faith and being able to lead others. It’s a process we call discipleship in our church. Because that’s what Jesus called it in Matthew 28. Check out how he told his followers to go be influencers in the world: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Jesus said to make disciples, not converts. The goal is for us to influences each other toward discipleship.
And here’s the kind of stuff a disciple is going to be growing in…
Look at verse 6: “An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion.” So Paul’s talking about specific things that need to exist for someone to be an elder, or a pastor in the church. But in Paul’s mind there weren’t elite Christians who had these qualities and everyone else was just off the hook and could live however. We should all be progressing toward these things. Every person in our church should be qualified to be an elder, even though God will only call a few. And so here in this first part, Paul says that we need to be influencers in our HOME.
The husband of one wife…a one woman man. Christian marriages should be such that people know of their fierce commitment to each other.
Teaching/training our children about who Jesus is…Christian parents should be people who are working hard at showing their kids who Jesus is by how they raise them.
Steady…no wildness or rebellion.
Your home life can massively influence people.
Invite people into that. This was super impactful for me.
Look how he goes on in 7-8: “As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled.” We need to be influencers BY OUR CHARACTER. Paul lists some negatives: no arrogant or hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker so not dependent on substances, not greedy. There are things in our character that would clearly point people away from Jesus.
And part of that is that it just stinks to be around a person who acts in these ways.
Then some positives: hospitable, loving what’s good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled.
How have you grown in these? Have you seen actual, tangible growth? Do you have someone in your life who would know and who’s looking out for you in that way?
God’s given us the gift of each other to BE influencers in each other’s lives to promote this kind of growth.
The next two are tied together. Look at verse 9: “holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.” We need to be influencers who KNOW WHAT WE BELIEVE. And here’s one reason we need to know what we believe. Look at verse 10: “For there are many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from the circumcision party. It is necessary to silence them; they are ruining entire households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly. One of their very own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason, rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of people who reject the truth.” We need to be BOLD in what we believe. Paul was the kind of influencer who knew what he believed, and he was bold in sharing it. Now he’s encouraging Titus to be the same.
There are some people who’s influence needs to be silenced. Especially those of the circumcision party. They were influencing people away from the gospel. Our influence shouldn’t be adding burdens to people, and shouldn’t be avoiding dealing with sin and brokenness. ”A loving leader will put your eternal destiny before your present comfort, and will challenge and rebuke you if they see you treading that path.”
Why do we need to be that bold?
Look at verse 15: “To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.” We need to be that bold because we’re influencing people in what they believe about Jesus. The members of this circumcision party were influencing people away from Jesus. This is why we need to know the gospel SO well. Paul studied for 14 years that we don’t really know about, where God was preparing him for 10 years of powerful influence.
Maybe you don’t feel like you know the gospel that well yet, aren’t confident. That’s totally fine. How are you growing? Grow in your understanding of the gospel and allow God to use you for years to influence others to love Jesus more.
If Jesus has saved you, he’s also called you to be an influencer in this world for him. How do you need to grow in this in your family, neighborhood, workplace, and church?