Above Reproach — But What About the Kids?

Above Reproach — But What About the Kids?

The wise Apostle Paul insists that overseers be above reproach. By overseers he means those who not only are called by that title, but also that of pastor or elder. These words are used for the same person. That person, that overseer, that pastor, that elder, MUST be above reproach.

Between Paul’s words — “IF ANYONE IS ABOVE REPROACH” — and “AN OVERSEER, AS GOD’S STEWARD, MUST BE ABOVE REPROACH,” he brings the family into our perview. See what I mean below:

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—IF ANYONE IS ABOVE REPROACH, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
For an overseer, as God’s steward, MUST BE ABOVE REPROACH. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus‬ ‭1:5-9‬ ‭ESV)

Did you notice that phrase? “His children are believers [faithful] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.” 

There is much to consider here, but I want to focus on the overseer’s children. Simply put, if his children are not above reproach, then the overseer himself cannot be considered above reproach either. The father is to be seen as a whole with those who are under his charge. It is a solemn thought, but this is the way God puts it.

Paul states in this translation (ESV) that his children must be believers. This is often translated however as “faithful,” and this is its usage most often in the New Testament for this word. I believe, like many, that Paul means that his children must be under control. I stand with many other interpreters to say that Paul likely does not mean his children must be converted to Christ, but rather, that they must be orderly, submissive to the father’s will, attendant to the things God is requiring the parents to do for the family. Plus, they are not charged by others with being debauched or insubordinate, that is, they are not wasted, aimless, God-mocking individuals with a rebellious attitude, always wanting his or her way. 

If a pastor (also called elder, or overseer) begins to see disobedience in his children that is not fairly quickly corrected, he should take decisive steps to either guide the child into respectfulness and faithfulness to the Lord and his parents, or resign. In some cases, it may be wise to take a temporary sabbatical first to see if the problem can be corrected. 

In 1 Timothy 3 where Paul takes up a similar list of characteristics of the man ready to become an elder, he adds an additional reason why the children’s respectful obedience must be seen:

“He [the elder] must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭3:4-5‬)

Paul has told us God’s will for the church’s leaders. Sadly, this instruction is often disregarded. A pastor is not able to make any child become a Christian — that is God’s work. But a leader must be able to have control over his child and guide that child to faithfulness, even before the child is firmly converted to Christ. A child may turn against God after he or she leaves the home, that is true, but while under the father’s leadership in the home, it is a reproach to that man if his children are not able to be soon corrected and respectfully realigned to follow the father’s leadership. 

Some men wonder, “Should I continue in the ministry of overseeing?” They should, at a minimum, look at their children to help them make the right decision.