The book of Titus is one of my favorite books in the Bible. This small 3 chapter book is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a gentile convert who was engaged in his own ministry on the island of Crete. Titus was clearly dealing with some challenges and false teachers within the church on Crete, so Paul’s letter to Titus was designed to clearly lay out the truth he was to continue to teach to the converts on the island. The first chapter of the book consists of the introduction, what to look for when appointing pastors and teachers, and how to combat heresy. The second chapter consists of instructions for believers within their personal relationships and how that is to translate to the larger body of the church, as well as reasons behind the need for obedience in Christ, which flows into the third chapter. The book concludes with some final instructions from Paul and a personal closing.
Titus is chalk full of valuable information for believers, but for women in particular, there are three small verses tucked away in the middle of the book that really just speak to the way that women are to relate to each other.
In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered.Titus 2:3-5 CSB
I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about, learning about, and talking about these three little verses tucked into the middle of one of the smallest books of the Bible. This idea of older women and younger women coming together to learn and grow, to share life together, and to find community is one that has been on my heart since I stepped into my very first class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The further I got in the seminary journey the more I felt the need for this woman to woman type of relationship but I’ll be honest when I say it was a challenge to really find what I think I was looking for.
When we made the decision to move back to New Mexico in 2019 I began to think that maybe this is where my “Titus 2 desires” would be fulfilled. I mean I was moving back to a place where my mom was (obviously an “older woman” in my life) as well as my sister and my sister in law (both “younger women” in my life). At the time I didn’t know what church life would look like but I had high hopes that perhaps I could begin to develop relationships in that arena as well considering the small town atmosphere we would be living in.
And then we felt the call to the church we are now serving in as a NAMB endorsed Replant missionaries. This is, as anyone who has been around for the last 3 years or so knows, a very small (in terms of membership) older congregation with a lot of wisdom to share but at the same time still have a lot of learning to growing to do along the way. While there is potential for Titus 2 relationships, mentoring and being mentored, we are all just trying to figure things out as we walk this new road of replanting and reaching our community in new and different ways. Again, I just still hadn’t found what my heart and my soul was truly longing for.
It wasn’t until I discovered the Women’s Leadership Network and was connected with my WLN mentor, a woman who has been through some of the same types of ministry struggles I have been through, that I really felt seen, heard, and understood. Don’t get me wrong. I have had some wonderful spiritual mentors in my life, especially when I was in seminary. I had great professors who came along side me who were not only my instructors but also became friends and women I could turn to when I had questions, needed guidance, support, or prayer. But none of them have ever been in a similar position to what we are going through now as replanting missionaries. And I’ll be honest when I say this is not an easy road to walk. Knowing I have someone I can turn to who has “been there, kinda done that” (they were church planters but currently work with the replant/revitalization efforts on the state level in California now) has been a life saver.
Paul tells Titus to instruct the older women to teach, train, encourage, and be good examples to the younger women. He tells the younger women to learn from those who have walked the road longer. One thing I heard in seminary is that we will always be an older woman and we will always be a younger women. We will always have something to learn from those who are ahead in life and we will always have something to teach to those coming up behind us. This relationship, this mentorship, this doing of life together is so very important.
Ladies, we are not each others enemies. We aren’t in competition with one another. The “mommy wars” and the “generational wars” aren’t getting us anywhere. Learning to listen to understand and not just to respond, taking and giving advice without being condescending, critical, or aloof, and being willing to say I don’t know but lets figure it out together are all things that the women of the Church need to work on getting better at. We are designed for relationship and community by a God who desires relationship and community. Titus 2 tells us how to do that. So today, I’m asking, how can we work toward stronger, healthier, and more fruitful Titus 2 relationships for the generations coming along behind us?