Mentoring Men

Titus 2:1-2, 6-8

October 17, 2004 | Brian Bill

As we turn today to Titus 2, the focus, as one pastor states, “changes from the pastors to the people, from the elders to everybody, and from the leadership to the laity.”  Specifically, Paul’s passion is for people to live out the transforming power of the gospel and not to look like the “same old bunch of believers.”  In this chapter, Paul addresses five different groups:

  • Older men (2:2)
  • Older women (2:3)
  • Younger women (2:4-5)
  • Younger men (2:6-8)
  • Servants and citizens (2:9-10)

We’ll look at ministry to men today, ministry to women next week, and address the topic of servants and citizens in two weeks.

Let’s begin with verse 1: “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.”  In contrast to what the false teachers were promulgating, Titus was to teach truth.  The Greek literally reads, “But you…” to show the contrast between what they did and what Titus was to do.  Interestingly, Paul does not use the word “preach” or the traditional word for “teach” in this verse.  Instead, he tells Titus to “talk” about truth in natural conversations.  And it’s in the present tense, which means he is to keep on talking about things that really matter.  This same word was used in Matthew 9:33 to describe what happened after a man who couldn’t talk was healed by Jesus: “…the man who had been mute spoke.”

This is a good reminder for each of us.  Teaching does not have to be in a formal setting; in fact, the best kind of learning takes place in every day life, when we simply speak spiritual truth.  This is the way God actually intends for instruction to be passed from one generation to another: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).  

This is actually the Hebrew way of teaching, when God’s principles are allowed to permeate all of life, and are shared in the context of relationship.  This is the mentoring model of the Master Teacher, as Jesus talked truth when He walked through the day.  The Greek method is more of a lecture-format, kind of like what I’m doing here today.  Here are the main differences between the two approaches:

Greek Hebrew 

Classroom Model Coach Model

Academic Relational

Passive Experiential

Theoretical On-the-job training

If we want to be spiritually healthy, and desire others to be as well, we must talk truth and dialog about doctrine in practical ways that can be fleshed out in daily life

Here’s the good news.  Mentoring is not reserved just for ministers; we’re all called to communicate “what is in accord with sound doctrine” in the course of everyday conversation.  Notice that we’re not just to go over rote doctrine but are to share what is in “accord,” or that which is “fitting for” sound doctrine.  Some of us spend too much time on theological theories and not enough time on living for the Lord.  Specifically, this refers to character qualities that are built upon the bedrock of belief.  The phrase “sound” is used five times in this brief book, and forms the basis of the word “hygiene” and was used to describe making sick people well.  If we want to be spiritually healthy, and desire others to be as well, we must talk truth and dialog about doctrine in practical ways that can be fleshed out in daily life.  Someone put it this way: “Sound doctrine is the basis for sound character and sound character is proof of sound doctrine.” 

Older Men

I’ve heard it said that character is who you are in the dark, that it is revealed in how you treat someone who can’t return the favor, or can’t fight back.  An article in Good Housekeeping gives us six clues for discerning a man’s character:

  • Watch him drive in heavy traffic
  • Play tennis or golf with him
  • Listen to him talk to his family when he doesn’t know you’re listening
  • See how he treats waiters and cashiers
  • Notice what he’s willing to spend money on
  • Look at his friends

The article concludes by saying that if you still can’t make up your mind, then study his shoes.  A man who keeps his shoes in good repair generally tends to the rest of his life too.  

Let’s look at the first phrase of verse 2:“Teach the older men…” The phrase “older man” is used by Paul in Philemon 9: “I then, as Paul-an old man.”  We know that when he wrote this letter he was around 60-years-old.  This word is also used by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:1: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.”  We can safely say that Paul would have qualified to be a member of AARP (I will be asked to join in 6 years!) but his intention in using this term is more relative – he is referring to those who are older than others.  I heard recently that there are really just four ages of a man:

  • When you believe in Santa Claus
  • When you don’t believe in Santa Claus
  • When you are Santa Claus
  • When you look like Santa Claus

Agatha Christie once told people why she married an archaeologist: “I married him because the older I get the more he’ll appreciate me.”  Most Americans have an adverse reaction about growing older.  According to the November 2004 issue of Reader’s Digest, in an article entitled, “Look 10 Years Younger Without Surgery,” in the past year, 7 million Americans spent over $2 billion on age-erasing procedures, which is an incredible 43% jump since 2002.  While our culture craves youthfulness, and tends to disregard the aged, the Bible is clear that we are to honor the elderly.

Leviticus 19:32: “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.  I am the LORD.”

Job 12:12: “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?” 

Psalm 92:14: “They will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green.”

Proverbs 16:31: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” 

As we come to verse 2, Paul is appealing to older men by saying something like this: “You’ve lived a long time on this island and this culture has influenced you.  Instead of living like a Cretan, it’s time to live like a Christian and become a model to younger men.  Stop coasting and start mentoring other men.”  Paul begins his instruction to Titus by starting with the older because they are strategic in the spiritual formation and maturity of any church.  We’ve heard it said that these are the “golden years”; I think Paul would say that these should also be the “godly years.”  These six qualities are not optional; they are requirements if we want to see the church grow and mature.  Let’s look at verse 2: “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” 

1. Temperate. 

This literally means that older men are to not get drunk.  Cretans were dedicated to the national pastime of drinking and so, in order to stand out, men are to not allow anything but the Holy Spirit to control their characters.  Ephesians 5:18, in the New Living Translation, challenges each of us: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.  Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”  This word is also used of being sober-minded and steady

2. Worthy of respect. 

The King James Version translates this characteristic as “grave.” 

3. Self-controlled. 

This is closely related to being temperate and literally means to “act with a saved mind.”  A self-controlled man is one who is disciplined.  Matthew Henry says that this man “governs well his passions and affections, so as not to be hurried away by them to any thing that is evil or indecent.”

4. Sound in faith. 

As we’ve already seen, to be “sound” means to be healthy.  Older men are to be “fit in their faith.”  In the Greek, there is actually a definite article here so it should read, “the faith.”  The mature man is grounded in God’s Word.  He has learned to trust the teaching of Scripture.  We see this spelled out in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

5. Sound in love. 

The definite article is also evident here.  The older man is healthy in the love of God and in love for others.  Agape love is a choice not a feeling.  He avoids bitterness and gladly bears the burdens of others.  By the way, while the phrase “grumpy old men” has become a funny stereotype, it’s important for older men to not let bitterness get the better of them.

6. Sound in endurance. 

Endurance is a compound word, made up of two ideas: under and abide. To endure means to “remain under” trials in a way that honors God by patiently waiting on Him.  A mature man has learned how to ride out the storms of life, both expecting and accepting trials when they come, and not losing heart when things don’t turn out the way he wanted them to.  Someone has said that the older person can rightly say, “A few more sighs and then I will sigh no more.”

Younger Men

It’s interesting that Paul spells out six qualities for older men to emulate and then when he comes to younger men, he states just one.  Now that could be because older men have more responsibility and more things to work on, or it could mean that this one quality for younger men is so important that everything else will take care of itself if this one is embraced.  Drop down to verse six: “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” The word “encourage” means to “call alongside” and in essence means, “I beg of you, please.”

Young men are frequently impulsive, indulgent, volatile, and arrogant and therefore are urged to be self-controlled.  Younger men must submit and surrender their passions to Christ as Proverbs 25:28 makes clear: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  I have heard it said that the most important day in a young man’s life is the day that he gets self-control.  

Mentoring Matters

In verses 7-8, Paul provides us with some guidelines for mentoring men: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”  Howard Hendricks says that there are only two groups of men in the church: pillars who support the ministry, and caterpillars who crawl in and out of the building each week.  I’m going to use the acrostic MENTOR to help us produce more pillars in the church.

Make an Impression.  Older believers are to “set an example” by the way they live.  Mark Twain once said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”  Specifically, Titus was to live his life in such a way that it would make an indelible impression on them.  The word “example” literally refers to the visible mark or impression left by the strokes or blows of an instrument.  Thomas wasn’t going to believe unless he saw the “impression” of the nails in the hands of Jesus: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were…” (John 20:25).  It was also used to describe the pattern or mold into which clay or wax was pressed and eventually came to be used of something that was a copy of the original. If we’re serious about mentoring men, we should be able to say like the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:17: “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” It was John Maxwell who said, “We teach what we know but we reproduce what we are.”

Exhibit Good Works.  Titus is next reminded to exhibit that which is good.  Our deeds must match our doctrine, as we look for ways to do good things.  Sometimes as evangelicals, we shy away from good works in our efforts to make sure we teach that salvation is by grace and is not achieved by works we accomplish.  And yet, we must couple our faith with action as James 2:26 says: “…faith without deeds is dead.”  One young man around the fire commented about how much it meant to him that an older person in the church took the time out to help him with a plumbing problem.  This was a good work that made a great impression.  Titus 2:14 says that we are to be “eager to do what is good.” Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”

Nurture Integrity.  Titus is told to teach with integrity, which means he is to do so with the absence of self-seeking motives.  A mentor must share his life and the message of the Word of God without equivocation.  

Take Life Seriously.  Our culture, like the Cretan culture, values silliness above substance.  If you don’t believe me, just tune into one of the “reality shows” on TV.  If we are going to mentor each other, we must look at life not with levity, but with a sense of brevity, as verse 7 states.  We must help the younger sort out the truth from that which is trivial.

Observe Your Words.  Men who mentor must be sound in speech according to verse 8.  This is the word “healthy” again.  We must realize that our words either bring life or they bring death to people.  We can build up or tear down.  Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Ephesians 4:29 is a good reminder: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Resist Opposition.  A mentor must assist others in handling hardship.  The word “opposition” means to be “over against something or someone” and was used in Matthew 14:24 of the wind that was “against” the boat.   Opposition is inevitable in the Christian life, from the world, sometimes from people, and always from Satan, who is referred to as our “adversary” in 1 Peter 5:8.  The best way to help younger men is to encourage them to “walk their talk,” then “those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Every Man a Mentor

While most men will agree that mentoring is a good thing, there’s something about the way we’re designed that keeps us from opening up with others.  There are some reasons why men tend to move away from mentoring:

  • A man’s pride tells him to journey alone
  • A man’s heart tells him to remain quiet
  • A man’s mind tells him nobody will understand
  • A man’s emotions tell him to keep things under control
  • A man’s time tells him that he has no room in his schedule

I want to suggest that the biblical model is this: Mature men must mentor moldable men; and moldable men must mimic mature men.  Here’s another way to say it.  Every man who is older should be mentoring and every younger man should have a mentor.  That covers all of us, doesn’t it?  Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”   In the second promise of a Promise Keeper, men are urged to “pursue vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.”  Here then are some specific action steps to help us move from inertia to involvement, from loneliness to life change.

1. Follow the model of the Master Mentor. 

The initial activity that Jesus did in ministry was not to perform a miracle or even start teaching.  Among His first words are these: “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). We need to keep this order in mind.  First, we’re to follow Jesus.  This is an invitation to relationship.  A mentor must bring another into his life.  Second, we’re to fish for other followers.  Jesus spent most of his time with fewer people.

2. Practice Paul’s principles. 

Paul entrusted his life into a few men, namely Timothy and Titus, who in turn poured into others.  We see this spelled out in 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” Mature men must mentor moldable men; and moldable men must mimic mature men.  There are men in this church who are more mature in their faith, and there are others who have just started the journey and could use the help of a friend like you.  Howard Hendricks suggests that every man should have at least three individuals in his life.

  • You need a Paul, which is someone who is more mature and is willing to build into your life.  Who could that be for you?
  • You need a Barnabas, which is somebody who loves you but is not impressed by you.  This person can both encourage and hold you accountable.  Who fits this role for you right now?
  • You need a Timothy or a Titus, which is a younger man into whom you can build your life.  Look around.  Is there someone you need to single out for some spiritual mentoring?

3. Make a Mentoring Match-up. 

There should be no generational gap in the Body of Christ

How do you go about finding these three guys?  First, pray that God will bring them into your life.  And second, pray for the courage to approach them, push your pride aside and initiate a mentoring relationship.  There should be no generational gap in the Body of Christ.

  • Older Men.  Gentlemen of God, it’s not time to retire from relationships, but rather to re-fire yourself for meaningful ministry.  Don’t go AWOL but Be On Call.  You have a lot to offer others.  You may want to approach someone this way: “I’ve known a lot of people in my life and I see a lot of potential in you.  I’d be happy to meet with you and share some of my life experiences with you.” One way to make an immediate impact is by joining the Student Ministry team, becoming a Sunday School leader, or by working with AWANA.
  • Younger Men.  Some of you may be intimidated by the thought of asking someone to mentor you.  Maybe you’ve just been waiting for someone to ask you first.  Stop waiting.  Seek someone out.  You may want to consider asking for “specific” mentoring in a certain area of your life.  I did this when Beth and I got engaged.  I took the El downtown to Chicago once a week for about six months to meet with a guy named Don  who helped get me ready to be the kind of man God wanted me to be, and the husband Beth needs me to be.  Perhaps you could meet with an older man and ask for help in your parenting, or money management, or in cultivating your prayer life.

4. Mix With Men. 

1 Kings 2:2 says, “So be strong, show yourself a man.”  Guys, it’s time for us to hang out with other guys so that our lives can be sharpened.  

Men, as we are transformed by the gospel, we do not have look like the same old bunch!

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?