True biblical leadership is leadership by example. Paul told Titus to be sure to look for leaders whose lives were above reproach. Find people whose lifestyles give no “handle of offense” by which a watching world can grab hold and find fault. He then begins addressing the very specific “handles” that must be avoided if a true believer is to honorably carry out his mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The first specific character trait essential for effective ministry is sexual purity.

Nothing will ruin a reputation faster and destroy a ministry more thoroughly than sexual sin. The wisest man in the world, Solomon, in the book of Proverbs asks a telling question regarding marital infidelity. In Proverbs 6:27-29, He asks, “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals, and his feet not be scorched? So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her will not go unpunished.” The consequences related to marital infidelity are unlike any other. You can reimburse someone for what you’ve stolen. You can find forgiveness for any offense. But as Proverbs 6:32 says a person who commits adultery “will find wounds and disgrace.” There is no way restitution can be made and “their reproach will not be blotted out.” The one caught in sexual sin can never be “above reproach.” Their reputations are ruined.

Leaders must lead by example. The standards for biblical leadership are extremely high because everyone is watching. They must have reputations of sexual purity and complete faithfulness to their spouses. When leaders fail, so too does their ministry. No matter how accurate our teaching or how spiritual our words, or how strongly we call for truth and righteousness, if the life of a leader does not back it up, it will avail for nothing. Will Houghton became president of Moody Bible Institute in the 1940’s. He played a huge role in the life of a famous agnostic who was contemplating suicide. The skeptic was desperate, but he decided that if he could find a minister who lived his faith he would listen to him. So he hired a private detective to watch Houghton. When the investigator’s report came back, it revealed that this preacher’s life was above reproach; he was for real. The agnostic went to Houghton’s church, accepted Christ, and later sent his daughter to Moody Bible Institute.

“The one who commits adultery…destroys his own life.” Proverbs 6:32