Teaching by example, best way to lead children

Posted: Friday, March 04, 2005

Titus is one of those people I can truly identify with. He was a pastor, young in the ministry and left to shepherd the believers on the island of Crete.

He needed guidance and direction in regard to the ministry he was undertaking. Paul knew the people of Crete and could give detailed instruction to Titus about to whom to teach what. The letter Paul wrote to Titus is filled with treasures that help believers understand more clearly appropriate conduct in the church and in the world.

The challenge is not just for those to whom Titus was ministering. The challenge also was for Titus as he is given characteristics that he is to exemplify in his ministry.

The challenge continues for each of us today as we strive to live out the teaching given us here.

Chapter two of Titus is the heart of the teaching to be given to the various groups in the church.

Older men are to be temperate and self-controlled, especially living their lives in such a way as to be worthy of respect.

By their example in faith, in love and in endurance, they are to be looking for opportunities to share their experience and their wisdom with those who are younger in age and in faith. If the older men are leading by example, they will be respected and followed.

Older women are to be careful how they conduct themselves, especially in their attitudes and speech. The example they set forth is to be reverent and respectful in all aspects of their life and behavior.

They are to be thoughtful in their words so they are not gossiping or speaking words that are cutting or mean. Words are meant for building up people and teaching them, not for tearing down.

Once they have their actions and words right, they are ready to teach the younger women how to conduct themselves.

Younger women are to be respectful and ready to listen to the teaching they receive from the older women. They are to follow their example in providing a home that welcomes people, particularly family members.

The home ought to be a place of peace and not nagging. Family members should look forward to coming home because they know love and kindness are knitted into the fabric of life at home.

Younger men are to be mentored by men who are older in age and faith. Titus fit well into that category, so Paul instructed him to be careful about his own conduct so the young men could follow his example.

Mentors are so needed today, especially among young men and women. Many struggle to live their lives because they do not have the tools, the wisdom, the insight and the experience to make good choices.

We cannot trust that young people are going to figure it out on their own. Life is too difficult and too complicated to attempt to "wing it."

The believers' responsibility is to model good conduct, to mentor those younger in the faith, eagerly seeking to do what is good. We are all in this together and we need each other to get it more right every day.

Living with integrity and modeling characteristics of the Christian life go hand in hand with mentoring, and all make up the heart of the message Paul was sending. He knew the only way for the believers to make an impact was to live their lives in such a way as to uplift the Word of God, to prevent anyone from saying anything bad about believers and to attract people to the teaching about God our savior.

May we, as believers, be eager to live out these characteristics of the Christian faith and life, modeling and mentoring along the way, that more people may come to know Jesus as Lord and savior of their lives, as well.

After all, leading people to Jesus is what the Christian life truly is all about.

Laura Skiba is pastor of North Star United Methodist Church at Mile 25.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway in Nikiski.

Sunday school service begins at 9:45 a.m. and worship is at 11 a.m. For more information, call Skiba at 776-8732.

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