When I think about Timothy and Titus as men, I can’t help but think about their personal relationship with the apostle Paul. These men knew and were mentored by the great Paul, who penned some of the most powerful verses in our New Testament! I am a tad envious of the lives that these men got to have; and their lives teach us some pivotal truths about mentorship in the church.
We know more about Timothy than Titus, so we will save Timothy for another post. Scripture tells us that Titus went with Paul when Paul went to Jerusalem fourteen years after his conversion (Gal2:1ff). We know Titus was Greek; and we assume that Titus was a personal convert of Paul, since Paul calls him “mine own son after the common faith” (Ti1:4). Where and when this conversion happens, the Bible does not tell us; but must have been some time early in first fourteen years of Paul’s ministry.
Somehow Titus had a special connection to the churches in Corinth. Out of the twelve times that scripture mentions Titus, two thirds of those mentions are in 2 Corinthians alone. It is interesting that Titus had such “earnest care” for the Corinthians (2Cor8:16), and yet he is not mentioned even once in 1 Corinthians. My assumption is that Paul told Titus about all of the problems at Corinth as he was writing the stern corrections we see in 1 Corinthians. Titus, worried about the Corinthian churches, made up his mind to check on them [he wasn’t sent, 2Cor8:16-17] and to report back to Paul about their progress (2Cor7:6-8ff). Apparently Titus’ progress report on Corinth was a source of great joy to Paul (2Cor7:13).
By this time Titus was such a trusted and experienced minister that Paul refers to him as “my partner and fellow helper” (2Cor8:23). For a time Titus ministered in Dalmatia (2Tim4:10), but eventually Paul appointed him as the bishop of Crete and left him there to finish building the church that Paul had planted (Ti1:4-5ff).
When I think about Titus, I notice is that he always maintained a connection with the godly mentor in his life. Paul was a great apostle, well known for starting churches and advancing the kingdom. But rather than strike out on his own and try to make a name for himself, Titus worked along side of a much more seasoned minister and learned from him. As a young minister myself, I thank God for some of the older men in my life who have kept the faith. These older men in the faith have so much accumulated wisdom that I can learn from.
To all my fellow young ministers, I issue a word of exhortation: find a preacher who is older than you by a good 20 years, and attach yourself to him. Ideally this man should be your pastor. Learn from him. Let him correct, encourage, and mentor you. Paul wrote Titus three chapters worth of advice; let your man of God share his wisdom with you—even if you are already in a leadership position. Let’s be humble enough to realize that our elders have much more experience than we do. We should follow them as they follow Christ (1Cor11:1).
Titus also teaches us that simply following our ministry mentors is not enough. Eventually, we have to get the burden for ourselves. The churches at Corinth were churches that Paul started, not Titus. To the best of our knowledge Titus had no hand in starting these congregations. And yet Titus had “earnest care” for these churches. Without anyone asking him, Titus took it upon himself to be a help to the church. I can imagine the fatherly pride in Paul as he sees one of his young ministers concerned for the church and shouldering the responsibility of caring for others’ souls.
Young ministers, let’s not look for a pulpit to preach in. Let’s look for believers to encourage and souls to save. Help your local church and your man of God with the work at hand. When we truly get a burden for souls, the ministers that are above us will see our labor and they will exalt us in due time. Titus helped Paul with Paul’s churches in Corinth first; it was only later that Paul gave Titus an independent position as the bishop of Crete. If you want your pastor to help you with your ministry, be submissive and help him with his.
Let’s remember, we are not “John Wayne Christians”. We don’t do this thing on our own. We are “partners and fellow helpers” with the older ministers in our lives. If we will stick with them and learn from them, eventually we will get to stand where they are and teach others just as they have taught us. I hope this post encourages someone to follow the godly ministers in their life. Let’s get a burden for the work of the Lord, and learn from our elders in the faith!