Meditations in Titus: 15: Teach younger men
Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled
When we come to the fourth group in the local church, the younger men, the instruction as to what to teach them appears at first sight to be surprisingly short – encourage them to be self controlled. Note encourage not tell or instruct. That is a much more gentle word and almost implies, ‘win them over to become self-controlled’. The truth is that young men are likely to be the group with the greatest natural resistance. Young men are full of energy and think the world is theirs. They want to do things, achieve things. They think, because they are full of energy, that they are the people of the day, those who know best because they do not exhibit the lethargy that sometimes comes with more mature years. They are get up and go people. Titus’ problem will not be in motivating the new believer young men but controlling them and maintaining order. Hence this instruction.
But actually Paul’s instruction to Titus about the young men does not stop there: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” (v.7a) Titus is probably a relatively young person himself and so there is likely to be a measure of kinship between him and the other younger men. They, naturally, may well look to him as a role model and so Paul wants them to follow in his footsteps, hence his instruction to be an example for them to follow. To say “doing what is good” means do what God has given you to be and that will be good. Let me give some examples.
Although in these studies I have only ever given one example of a man I wanted to emulate – my wife’s elderly uncle – when I look back to my younger years I realise that there have been many Christian leaders who have stirred and challenged me. Without naming names I remember one leader who was full of gentleness and yet authority. He was a good example to follow. I remember a number of men whose commitment to the word of God and to holy living challenged me. Further examples to follow. I remember a couple of gentle, servant hearted, pastoral people who came and stayed with us on occasion and loved me and my wife just as we were and changed us by their loving acceptance. What examples to follow! And so many more. We can be examples to the next generation but it does mean that we ourselves have got to stand out in our faith and commitment and our love and goodness.
But this is it, Titus, if you are going to stand out for these young men they have got to be able to see someone they look at and realise is different from others, a man who stands out from the world but in such a way that they will think, “I want to be like that.” This is uniquely so for this group. The women will not identify with Titus and the elderly men should have learnt it all anyway and so not need an example, but these young men are uniquely placed to identify with this young leader.
So Paul instructs him, “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness.” (v.7b) Integrity is about public honesty and being ethically unquestionable. Seriousness speaks of clarity of purpose. Be someone, Paul says, who is a straight as a die and who is seen to be all out in his goals for God. Let these young men be challenged to keep up with you and stand out from the world that lacks these things. They will see you as a leader bringing teaching to the church, so do it in this manner.
Indeed ensure that you have, “soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.” (v.8a). In other words be careful what you say. If your words are to be ‘sound’ that means they are right and acceptable and not controversial. Ensure that you give no cause for criticism in what you say. Now we have linked these words to the young men because they follow directly on and form part of what Paul started saying about Titus being an example to them but there will be more to it than that: “so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Not only will you win over the young men to follow your example but if you act and speak in this manner you will disarm those who would seek to criticize you – and be quite clear in your mind, there will always be those looking to criticize Christian leaders! This may be the young men themselves because they are always critical of hypocrisy and are quick to point out the failings of the next generation, but it may also be others as well. Whoever there is there, who may take the opportunity to criticize you and your ministry – do all you can to ensure they have no grounds to do that.
We often say that the man of God should seek to please God first and foremost (and of course he will if he lives in this manner) but the Christian leader has a whole group of people to win over to God (the congregation) as well as being concerned for all those onlookers outside the church who look in and are ever ready to criticize. He needs all the grace he can receive as well as the encouragement of other senior leaders and the love of his people to walk this often difficult path.