Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. (Titus 2:2)
Paul seems to shift here from church leadership to the more general subject of Christian character. But is this really his intention?
The Greek word for “older men” used here is “presbuteros.” You may recognize this as the very same word Paul used in Titus 1:5 where he instructed Titus to ordain “elders” in every city. So which is it? Is Paul still talking about church leaders, or has he indeed moved to the general?
I suggest both.
The context of our passage does indicate Paul has changed direction. He refers to “older men”, then “older women,” “younger women,” “younger men,” and even “slaves.” All of these people would have been a part of a common household on Crete, and each of them needed to consider their behavior in light of their faith in Jesus.
However, I have always felt we are mistaken when we say Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 provide the “qualifications” for elders and deacons. I am not saying these passages are not excellent guides. It is just that they are not inclusive, and when we view them as such, we run the risk of overlooking some other valuable leadership traits.
All of the traits to be taught to older men are similar to that of the ordained elder, with the addition of two: “love and endurance.”
We are told earlier that an elder is to “love what is good.” But here we discover all older men of faith are to be “sound” in love, which is another way of saying they are to have a “healthy” love.
I am not sure how else to say it: a leader who is unhealthy in his ability to love will use his leadership as a vehicle for his own ego, in a feeble attempt to fill up some void in his own life. And in the process he will set a tone of contention, judgmentalism and legalism in the church. I am of the firm opinion some men should not lead the church, including those who preach, teach and serve on foreign mission fields, because they have never addressed serious emotional or psychological injuries sustained in their lives.
“Endurance” is similar. Also translated “patience”, the ability to be patient with people and circumstances requires an inner peace and stability. We must realize Jesus’ ability to endure to the end was a result of His confidence in who He was, and why He came. Nothing else explains His ability to speak these words from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
I am learning to be an “older man.” In fact, later this year I become 55, which means I get a few discounts here and there. I hope I can be a good “older man.” I am certainly open to advice.
Dear God, continue to heal me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.