Mentoring Insights from the Book of Titus
WCIU Journal: Leadership Topic
July 10, 2017
The epistle of Titus is a letter from a mentor to a mentee, from the Apostle Paul to one of his reliable and trusted companions, written from Macedonia towards the end of Paul’s life after his first Roman imprisonment (cf. Acts 28).
Titus was one of Paul’s converts, spiritual sons, mentees, and companions in ministry (Titus 1:4). Like Timothy, John Mark, and Philemon, Titus had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem when he went there to defend his gospel (Gal. 2:1-3). Titus seems to have worked with Paul at Ephesus during his third missionary Journey. From there Paul sent him to assist the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:5-6; 8:6). Following Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28), he and Titus worked briefly in Mediterranean area. At this time Crete was a morally depraved city. The dishonesty, gluttony, and laziness of its inhabitants were legendary (Titus 1:12). To be described as Cretan was to be described as a liar. After their brief work at Crete, Paul left Titus there to properly organize the church, appoint leaders for them, and to ensure that the church had firm footing (1:5; 2:15; 3:12-13). When a replacement arrived, Paul asked Titus to join him at Nicopolis (on the west coast of Greece) (Titus 3:12). The last thing we read about Titus was his mission to Dalmatia (modern Yugoslavia), following in his mentor’s footsteps to take the Gospel to Europe.
Like mentor, like mentee. In this paper, I explore the qualifications of mentors, the profile of mentees, and the duties of mentors and mentees that we can see in the epistles to Titus.
Qualifications of Mentors/Profile of Mentees. Titus 1: 5-16
Paul and Titus had been together in Crete. They had evangelized the city but had not been able to organize the churches when Paul had to leave. He therefore left Titus behind to complete the work of organizing the churches. Part of the organizing Titus had to do was to appoint leaders for the churches which was consistent with the usual Pauline practice in his mission work (cf. Acts 14:23). Paul gives Titus guidelines as to the qualifications for those leaders (v.5):
- Blameless—having no grounds on which he can be indicted
- Husband of one wife—marital faithfulness
- Believing children—has been able to lead the children to become believers in Christ and God fearing.
- Not overbearing or arrogant—not a man who obstinately maintains his own opinions or asserts his own rights and is reckless of the rights, feelings, and interests of others.
- Not quick-tempered or habitually inclined to anger
- Not given to drunkenness—the drunken worship of the god Dionysus was well known on the island of Crete. The leader in the church must not be confused with a worshipper of this pagan god.
- Not violent—not a fighter or hasty to strike an opponent
- Not pursuing dishonest gain—not engaging in questionable trade, or perhaps adapting one’s teaching to the hearers in the hope of making more money from them
- Hospitable—a lover of strangers, loving what is good—devotion to all that is best
- Self-controlled—self mastery, controlling passionate impulses and keeping the will loyal to the will of God.
- Upright, holy, and disciplined—in view of the moral laxity of crete
- Holding to sound doctrine and being able to refute those who oppose it—must hold to sound doctrine and have the ability to teach it as well as to refute those who oppose it (vs. 6-7).
These are the qualifications for effective leaders/mentors of God’s people. We have been called to be mentors to others. That is the mandate of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The full potential of the pastoral ministry is not realized until it is approached from the perspective of mentoring.
Duties of Mentors: Titus 2:1-15, 3:1-15.
Paul not only articulated the qualifications of leaders and mentees in God’s house, he also went ahead to specify their functions both for the benefit of Titus and the benefit of the leaders he was going to appoint.
1. Teach Right Living—Titus 2:1-5, 9-10; 3:1-2
Paul instructed Titus on the need to teach the various groups in the church to be good ambassadors of the gospel—the kind of believers that will transform their society. He was to be creative, conscientious, and intentional in his teaching or training ministry.
· A. The older men needed to be taught to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith in love and in endurance (v.2). B. The older women should learn to lead reverent lives, not slanderers or addicted to much wine, so they can train (mentor) the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, busy at home or industrious, kind and subject to their husbands, so no one will malign the word of God (v.3-5). C. The young men are to be encouraged to be self-controlled (v.6). D. Slaves must be subject to their masters, trying to please them and not to steal from them, showing they can be trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God attractive (vs. 9-10).
In all, Titus was to remind all the people to be subject to rulers and authorities to be obedient to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show humility toward all men (3:1-2).
2. Be an Example—Titus 2:6-8
In instructing Titus on what to teach the various groups, Paul did not simply stop at what to teach, but went on to indicate that a leader’s life ought to provide them an example. Being a young man himself, Titus was not only to encourage the young men to be self-controlled, he was charged to let his life be a model of who a Christian young man ought to be. Paul urged Titus to show integrity, seriousness, and healthy speech that are beyond reproach (v.7).
3. Teach Right Doctrine—Titus 2:11-15; 3:3-11
A great concern of Paul’s was that Titus and the leaders he was to appoint should be familiar with what is sound Christian doctrine and be able to teach it. Paul speaks of the gracious salvation which we have received and its ability to generate within believers a godly life. Those that will be mentors in God’s house must possess the sound doctrine of the faith and be able to teach the same to God’s people, especially in the uncertain times in which we live.
Our hope for producing a viable pastoral team for the future is in doing what Paul and the early Christian leaders did so well—discipling and mentoring the youth for ministry and for church membership.