Raising Titus 2 Women
In Titus 2 pastor teachers are given responsibility to equip the older women in the church that they might teach the younger women. How can ‘Titus 2’ women be raised in this way?
Two women spoke to me recently about the influence my Mum had on them as younger women. They shared how much they had appreciated the time she had invested in them, the example she had been to them, the practical godly wisdom she had shared with them, and the way she helped them live as disciples of the Lord Jesus.
In a quiet and unassuming way, my Mum was a Titus 2 woman.
In recent years there has been a great emphasis on training the young, both male and female, and to look out especially for those who might be called into some kind of full-time paid ministry. This has been good and profitable, not least because the young are often teachable and mouldable.
However, the role of the pastor teacher is to equip all God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:12): men and women, young and old. Specifically, in Titus 2 the pastor teacher is given a responsibility to equip the older women in the church, in order that they might then teach the younger women.
Why Raise Titus 2 Women?
Simply: for the advance of the gospel message and for the honour of God our Saviour.
A big idea in Titus is that gospel truth and godly living are inseparable: godly behaviour is the fruit of gospel faith (Titus 1:1).
Titus 2 unpacks how this knowledge of the truth leads to practical godliness for different groups, which is crucial for the credibility and advancement of the gospel (2:5, 8, 10).
It can be set out as a purposeful chain, from Jesus Christ to the younger women of the church:
Why does raising up older women to be Titus 2 women in particular matter for the advance of the gospel?
Day to Day Living Matters
The problem in Crete, where Titus ministered, was that rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, were corrupting whole households by teaching what ought not to be taught (1:10-16).
Rather than producing radical, practical, day to day, gospel-commending godliness, the corrupting teaching was leaving people the way they were: liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons (1:12).
Those listening to such corrupting teachers were to be rebuked because, although they claimed to know God, their actions denied it.
This all leads into chapter two: “You (Titus), however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.” (2:1). Healthy teaching does what false teaching can never do: produce spiritually healthy living.
Although older men have a role in this, it is likely that, in Crete, the women had significant roles in their households. How they behaved had an impact on Christian households and so the bigger instruction is given over to older and younger women.
Women are the Best Models to Other Women
In teaching women, there are certain aspects that only other women can do.
Carrie Sandom, in her book Different by Design, says:
“While Titus can teach the older men and older women, the younger men and the slaves, the specific teaching and training of younger women is left to older women. That is not to say that men can’t teach the whole Bible to women, far from it, but there is an important aspect of teaching, training and discipleship that only women can do. Titus can certainly teach women, but he cannot model what the Christian life looks like for a woman – he needs older women to do it for him. Only they can model what it means to be a godly woman to other women.”
What Does Raising Titus 2 Women Involve?
Titus is to teach the older women four specific things, listed in verse 3:
- To be reverent in the way they live: To live with God constantly in their sights;
- Not to be slanderers: Unlike the stereotype in 1:12 of ’liars’, not to speak untruthfully about others;
- Not to be addicted to much wine: Again unlike the stereotype of ’gluttons’, not to over-indulge;
- To teach what is good: A more informal teaching of godly womanhood that likely includes Bible study but will mean more than Bible study.
The CSB translation begins verse 4 with “so that”, providing us with the intended outcome of the teaching in verse 3: that they can urge - literally ‘bring to their senses’ - younger women to their right mind in God’s sight, and to live as godly women in their circumstances.
Paul had specific people and situations in mind as he wrote his letters: in this case dealing with particular issues for younger female believers living in 1st Century Crete. So for them, godly living looked like (v4-5):
- Loving their husbands and children: Serving those nearest to them;
- Being self-controlled and pure: Living as the redeemed people of the Lord Jesus;
- Being busy at home: Being productive, not idle;
- Being kind: Being other people-centred;
- Being subject to their husbands: Submitting to God’s ordering of relationships.
The implication here is that Cretan women were not loving their husbands and children; were throwing off restraint and purity; were being lazy and abandoning their responsibilities at home; were being unkind; were rebelling against their husband’s leadership.
Although another implication here is that all women were married in Crete, not all the women in the churches we serve will be married. We are likely to have many single women in church; they need older women to teach them what is good just as much as the married women do.
Pastors have a role in envisioning, empowering and encouraging older women to do this, making clear that their ministry matters, is valued, and is as strategic as the work among young men.
They should also be encouraging those who might never feel themselves to be teachers but are actually brilliantly equipped to get alongside and share word and life.
How Can We Raise Titus 2 Women?
Paul expects that pastor-teachers will be deliberately seeking to teach the older women to equip them and encourage them to see this as a ministry the Lord calls them to fulfil. Susan Hunt, in her chapter in the book Word-Filled Women’s Ministry, says:
“The ministry is to take place under their oversight…there is no formula for a women’s discipleship ministry. Titus 2 relationships may be formal or informal, occasional or scheduled, but unless there is an intentional effort to make Titus 2 a philosophical framework for discipling women, it is unlikely that it will become part of the culture of a church.”
There is no one way to do this.
There may be differences between how to approach it in a church plant compared to a long-established church, or in different sizes of church.
Some churches have a women’s worker to accomplish Titus 2, in others the role a pastor’s wife plays in a church may be significant, in others, there may be a women’s ministry team.
It might be that in more established churches with a tradition of a restrictive application of complementarianism, older women have never been encouraged to serve in this way. In these cases, they need to be helped gently to see it as a wonderful way they can serve the Lord Jesus and His church.
Churches may vary in their definition of ‘older’ and ‘younger’: most women will be younger than some and older than others. ‘Older’ may not always relate to age but rather spiritual maturity.
It should be less about programmes and more about encouraging and catalysing beneficial relationships.
Raising Titus 2 Women will look different in each church. Some ideas to help you get started might be:
- Call together elders’ wives and other ‘older’ godly women to simply set out a vision for this role. This could happen over a few monthly meetings.
- In elders’ meetings you could have a termly agenda item to pray about how things are going among your women;
- Pray in services for the work of women among women;
- Encourage women to individually take younger women under their wing.
It could also be helpful to meet twice a year with older women known to be doing the work of Titus 2 intending to keep the gospel purpose in front of them, encouraging them in their work and its value, and to ask them what kind of issues they are finding that younger women are facing.
This seminar was given at our 2019 Leaders' Conference. Browse all of the sessions.