You may not think you need other women, but you do. Gender-based mentoring relationships are essential for your journey of sanctification. This is one of God’s rich provisions for growing in grace and maturity. In Titus 2, Paul describes a relational hierarchy that God designed to “teach [us] what is good.”
Women have a redemptive calling to be life-givers (the name Eve means “giver of life”), not only biologically, but spiritually in every relationship. Our creation purpose is to live for God’s glory and being in close relationships with others help us fulfill that purpose. Mentoring and discipling relationships help each person to live more for the glory of God.
First, let’s take a look at the Titus 2 Mandate from Titus 2:3-5:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus was a mentee of Paul’s. He traveled with him on his earlier missionary journeys (see Galatians 2:1-3 and 2 Corinthians 8:23) before Paul commissioned him to organize the house church network on the island of Crete. Paul was in prison when he wrote Titus this letter with a major theme of “showing how the good news of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can transform a culture from within” (check out the Bible Project’s overview video of Titus on YouTube.) The way of living that Paul was pointing out to Titus was completely contrary to the culture around him. In the verses above, Paul was painting a picture of a new Christian household where the older, more mature believers are modeling for the younger generation a faith that is attractive and compelling. He was calling the Christians there to be agents of transformation, not by waging culture wars or assimilating to the culture, but by wisely participating in the culture. The relationships that he highlights within the family are the foundation to effectively influencing the culture around you and familial relationships are the foundation of a society.
When I think of living this out in my own life, it requires engaging deeply in other people’s lives – which can be hard and messy. Mentorship calls us to take a special interest in the lives of others and walk with them through life with its mountains and valleys. The verbs Paul uses, “to teach and to train,” emphasize that this will take intentionality and work. This isn’t something that will happen casually or by chance. It requires both the mentor and mentee to make a plan of meeting together regularly. This looks like doing life together by being involved in each other’s lives.
This is a fragrant life (2 Cor. 2:14) that comes from knowing Jesus and walking with Him daily. You can’t pour out unless you are filled up. Paul lived a selfless life and was constantly giving of himself to others. In 2 Timothy 4:6, he describes his life and ministry as being poured out as a drink offering. Ministering to others was his fragrant offering of worship to God.
The foundation of being able to mentor or disciple someone, is being in a close, daily relationship with Jesus. This requires the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading and study, and worship. After that, it requires being an active participant in a local church community and knowing what is going on in the lives of the people in that community. It’s really easy to think that you are holy and spiritual by yourself until that faith is tested by encountering people that require you to practice “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22).
Each of us is a younger and older woman to someone. At every point in our lives we can reach “forward” to learn from the wisdom of “older” more mature believers. At the same time, we always have younger believers that we can reach “backwards” (in the spectrum) to bring less mature believers along the journey. Looking at Paul’s different relationships in his life: he mentored Timothy and Titus. Silas was his peer and trusted traveling companion. Barnabas mentored him in the earlier years when he was first converted. Barnabas bridged the gap between Paul and the church in Jerusalem that was skeptical about his true conversion. (For further reading, check out this great article about mentor relationships seen in the life of Paul.)
“Titus 2 is so much more than a buddy system that pairs younger and older women. Titus 2 is about being our sister’s keeper and discipling her to live for God’s glory according to his Word.” (Word Filled Women’s Ministry edited by Gloria Furman and Kathleen B. Nielson)
It is not until the gospel grows deeper in believers that it will grow wider in the world. This simple principle of one-on-one discipleship can have a ripple effect that can affect a community and even future generations.The main avenue that God uses to help those roots grow deeper is through mentorship and discipleship. Many Christians have shallow roots because they were never discipled by anyone. Being in a genuine community with other believers helps to refine and sanctify our faith. God will give you grace to grow as you mentor younger women and as you allow yourself to be influenced and discipled by older women.
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