…disciplined (Titus 1:8f)
How is the word “disciplined” different than the word “self-controlled” which we have already addressed in verse 8?
In some ways they are the same. In fact, both can be translated using the synonym “temperate.” However, they are different words.
“Sophron”, the word for “self-controlled”, has the primary meaning of one who is sane, or in his right mind, while “egkrates”, has the primary meaning of strong and robust. So what does strong and robust have to do with being disciplined?
Many years ago I was a youth minister in a small Ohio town. One of our youth sponsors was a horse trainer of Tennessee Walkers. Sometimes he would take me with him to state fairs so I could supervise his 5 year-old daughter on the midway while he did some horse trading. I will never forget our first trip. The trainer asked his daughter to lead one of the horses out of the trailer. At one point the huge Walker pulled back and kicked his hoof on the ramp. But the trainer’s daughter jerked on the rein and shouted, “Stop that, you stupid horse! Get out of there!” The horse calmed down and walked down the ramp.
No doubt about it…this little girl was in control. I have always wondered what it was like for her parents when she hit adolescence.
I think “egkrates” is about being in control of the things in our lives that could hurt us, including our own weaknesses. It is all about the ability to “rein” ourselves in (hence the horse illustration), when something in our life challenges us.
There is a sense in which this characteristic is tied to some of the other character traits we have already seen in relation to church leadership. Anger, drunkenness, physical violence and dishonest gain are all activities that can be prevented when a leader takes charge of his impulses and redirects his emotions.
But, here is a problem: Our culture isn’t designed for “egkrates.” How many times have you sent an e-mail you wish you had back? I have. Someone catches me at the wrong time, and at the click of a button I tell them what I think. Or more accurately, since I am not usually thinking, I tell them something I don’t mean.
This means we have to design discipline into our lives. We need personal rules about speaking before we think, and acting without complete information. This might be a good morning to reference James 3, where the brother of Jesus tells us about the havoc our words can cause.
Simply put, a leader cannot afford to always say what he thinks (or isn’t thinking), whether it be in written form or verbal gossip. Nor can he always do what he feels like doing. In fact, the ability to process one’s feelings and act with discernment is one of the most important traits of any leader. If we can’t manage this, we should give the reins to someone else.
Dear God, make me strong and robust. In Jesus’ name, Amen.