God has created the church to function as the primary disciple making mechanism. One of the ways the Lord has structured this is for older men to teach the younger men how to live a godly life. Some of this teaching, of course, is formal. Maybe this comes in the form of a 40 year old man teaching a Sunday School class to a bunch of middle school boys. Formal teaching is needed; however, much of what is taught comes in the form of the informal. This may look like a faithful deacon cleaning the church grounds each week that is noticed by the young boy walking home from school, or the quiet man in the balcony running the sound board week after week. Paul instructed Titus about the roles of men as far as discipleship in a letter written to him. There he wrote,
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness . . . Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”(Titus 2:1-6)
As I reflect on these words, I am humbled and encouraged at the same time. I am humbled because the Lord has blessed me with so many Titus 2 men over the different seasons of my life. I am encouraged because as I strive to be a Titus 2 man for younger men, I still look to and have older men pouring into me. This is the natural process that God intended. Truly, all men need Titus 2 men in every time of life. Here are just a few times and season when this is true.
You needed one when you were young:
Growing up in a conservative Baptist church in the Bible-belt afforded me an embarrassment of riches when it came to godly men in my life. I had my family, neighbors, and many church members that filled this Titus 2 man role well. I saw them serving their families, serving their church, and their communities, and even taking time to disciple me in a variety of ways. God used both the formal instruction (Sunday school, Wednesday night classes, etc.) and the informal “God talks” to help shape me spiritually. After my salvation at the age of 21, I could look back and see how each had a hand in my spiritual formation. As a young man, I needed them to not just share the gospel, but I needed to be shown as well. I needed a Titus 2 man when I was young.
You need one now:
Now that I am in my mid-30’s, a staff member at a church, and a seminary graduate, one might think that there would be no need to have these types of men around to help any longer. Yet, God in his infinite wisdom knew that I would still need council and wisdom from those in their 40’s, 60’s, and 80’s. While I have some wisdom built up, I by no means have all the wisdom I need. I still need to know how to love my wife better, raise children when they are being difficult, and sort through other various life issues in a biblical way. I need the 55 year old man to take me out to lunch and give me a loving word of exhortation that I am working too much and need to spend more time with God and my family. This is part of his role in being “sober-minded.” I need this man in my life now, and so does every Christian man.
You will need one when you are old:
Once I get into my golden years, the need for Titus 2 men will not change. I hope one day to be the 60-year-old man that has taken a 25 year old newly married man under my wing for a year and poured into him about how to live out the gospel in his home. I hope to be a man that is teaching his grandchildren about the majesty of God. However, just because the roles shift and your primary role is to be that of Paul instead of Timothy doesn’t mean that you do not still need wisdom and guidance from another older and more seasoned man than you. That might come in the way of reading books from men of old. It may come in the way of digging up old sermons from people like Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, or reading commentaries from Matthew Henry. When a man makes it to this point in his life, he should relish in the opportunity to fulfill this role, yet he should not stop learning. Even in his old age, Paul never stopped (II Timothy 4:13). This is what a Titus 2 man does. He is “self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” I am in need of that kind of man now, and will always been in need of one.
I am so thankful for the Titus 2 men in my life, both in my past, and the ones that I have today. I am thankful that they have taught me to pass it on. I pray that it is a pattern that is carried on as long as the Lord gives me life. However, it is not just something for the super spiritual. It is not just something for the “professional.” God has given us all the ability to do this. He has made us all competent to council (Romans 15:14). The reality is, we are all mentoring or discipling others by how we live our lives. Scripture describes what it should look like in Titus 2. Here is my question to you who are reading this: where are you in the process? Here are a few questions to consider.
- Are you purposefully discipling someone?
- Are you a young man who is seeking someone to guide you?
- If you are not currently doing so, would you be willing to purposefully step into this role of being an older man training a young man?
- Would you, young man, be willing to have an older godly man speak into your life?
God has given us the great gift of each other to help train each other in godliness. Take advantage of this time. We need each other. Through it, you may be surprised at what it does both in you and the one that you are with as well. To all the Titus 2 men out there . . . I admire you. Keep it up. It is worth the investment.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B. Burrell