In my mind, I am twenty-three years old. When I close my eyes, she is who I see in the images of myself. I have felt that way for a long time, which is odd, I thought until recently, because I didn’t particularly recall twenty-three being a pivotal year for any reason. But lately, I realize that 1998 was, in fact, very important in the development of who I am today.
The summer I turned twenty-three, I was living in Pittsburgh, PA. I had completed one year toward an MFA in technical theatre, and I had entered into my first full time ministry position. I was hired by a church just outside of Pittsburgh as their production director. It was an ideal position for my education, talents, and spiritual gifts.
But I was about to turn twenty-three.
I was suddenly thrust into a leadership position over a team of men, who were at least ten years my senior, and over a volunteer team of women, all of whom were ten years older than me, if not twice my age (or more). Please don’t misunderstand – I loved these people. To this day almost twenty years later these are some of the finest Christian men and women I have ever had the pleasure to know and love.
Yet, deep down in my soul, I knew my authority over them was, at the very least, uncomfortable for all involved, and at the worst, biblically incorrect. I stuck with it for a little over a year, but ultimately I resigned my position and moved to Cincinnati to pursue theological studies where the men of my childhood church had been educated.
That feeling stayed with me for a very long time; in fact, for almost two decades I have felt like a somewhat-in-over-my-head twenty-three year old girl when it comes to ministry. Imagine my shock, then, when I realized just the other day that *I* am now a Titus 2 woman. Titus 2:3-5 teaches, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
If you noticed the above reference to time, it was 1998 when I turned twenty-three. I turned forty last summer. I only have one six year old! Sure, I have silver streaks in my hair, and I’ve been married for over a decade, but how can I be a Titus 2 woman? What? When? However, it is true. I am suddenly surrounded by women ten or fifteen years younger than I am, at church, and especially in my homeschool community.
I don’t have the luxury to dwell on the question of when it happened. I am commanded by God, through His Word, how to be a Titus 2 woman, not choose whether or not – or when or not – I want to become one. Maybe you are awakening to this reality as well. Here is what I do know: Scripture is serious about the role of older women in the church community, and there are things we need to be aware of and take seriously, sisters.
First, the Greek word used in Titus 2:3 for older is presbytis. It simply means “an aged woman.” There is no definitive age for an aged woman; if you are older than the woman with whom you are speaking, you qualify as a Titus 2 woman in her life. I would also humbly suggest that if you are spiritually older than a woman, you qualify as a Titus 2 woman. If a woman is new to her faith in Christ, you have a beautiful opportunity as a more seasoned believer to speak Truth into her life.
Second, how we behave as mature women of faith is vitally important. Look again at Titus 2:3a “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine.” Those are very specific instructions. There are days I want to yell at my child at the park or the grocery store (and I do, because I am not perfect). There are days I would rather comment snarkily on Facebook, make selfish decision, Sundays I would rather sleep in. There are things I think are funny I want to post on the internet, but they link back to sites with profanity or questionable images. All of those things are irreverent behavior – behavior that is not God honoring.
We are not to talk about others, and we are especially not to be malicious gossips, using our words as weapons against others. Nor are we to be enslaved to much wine. For me, this means no drinking. I have never seen anyone drink any amount of alcohol and make better decisions. I cannot reconcile drinking a mind-altering substance with the instructions laid out before me in this Scripture.
If there are younger women looking to me for advice or to be an example, I have to constantly think about my behavior, and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).
Third, we have to pray, pray again, and then pray some more. “Pray without ceasing” according to I Thessalonians 5:17. Actually, that command falls within this larger passage, in verses 15-18:
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
So I must not only pray constantly, about my interactions with other women, about the words I use with them and the advice I give, but also that I am joyful, seeking the best for others, living in peace, and that I am not out to hold grudges or get even. Frequently when a woman comes to me and asks me a question, I am sending up desperate prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance. I need to be reminded of Scriptures I have memorized, answers that Jesus gave, and how God would have me counsel this precious daughter made in His image. We cannot do this on our own strength.
Finally, we have to maintain relationships with Titus 2 women of our own. I need more mature women, in every aspect of the word, in my own life. I need women who have been married longer than I have, women who have walked with Jesus longer than I have, women who have studied the Scriptures deeper and more thoroughly than I have, and women who have parented longer than I have…I need these women to be my Titus 2 women. So do you. If I am to be an example – if we are to be examples – to younger women, there must be examples going before us. Hopefully you already have these friendships in place, but if not, begin praying about finding these women today. Pray that God will place Titus 2 women for you into your life to guide you and mentor you, so that you can guide and mentor others.
Becoming a mature woman in God’s church is a responsibility for sure! God has chosen us to mentor and disciple the generations of women coming up behind us; He wants us to walk alongside them
“teaching them what is good…so the word of God will not be dishonored.” What a privilege, and what an honor! So next time a younger woman approaches you asking for your opinion or your godly advice, pray, take a deep breath, pray again, and rest assured that God created you to be a Titus 2 sister!