I spent five years in seminary focusing on women’s studies. You want to know the secret to a strong, successful, sanctifying women’s ministry? It’s actually simple. Paul shares the secret in the short book of Titus.
First, let’s look at the context in which the letter to Titus was written. Paul had visited the island of Crete and planted a church. He left Titus in charge of the church and wrote this Epistle to give Titus instructions on how to live and love the church there. Paul quotes a description of those native to Crete as “liars, evil beasts, and gluttons” (1:12). The members of this church would have been first generation Christians, with either Jewish heritage or no religious heritage at all. Paul writes that there were many who, “profess to know God, but deny him by their works” (1:16).
In chapter two of Titus, Paul tells his young friend how to be a light in this dark place, how to encourage these new Christians to grow in godliness. The foundation of this instruction is on how to teach and encourage each other. Paul writes,
“Older women likewise, are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (2:3-5, ESV).
Do Paul’s instructions for ministry still apply today? Does this model of women teaching younger women still work?
I believe we need women mentoring women more now than ever before. There are two reasons I believe this:
First, our culture is now transient; we no longer live near our family members. When my grandma was a newlywed and then gave birth to her first son, she lived with her in-laws. My great-grandmother and great aunts were there to help her learn how to be a wife and mom. When I was growing up, we lived on the same street as my aunt and around the corner from my grandparents. Again, my mom had family members to teach and encourage her. However, I live 1,500 miles from my mom (who lives in Texas). I live 4,425 miles away from my sister (who lives in Alaska). I live 350 miles from my mother-in-law (who lives in North Carolina). I don’t have the benefit of their wisdom in my day to day routine. Many women like me are trying to figure out how to love our families well without direct guidance from relatives.
Second, like the church in Crete, there are many first generation Christians in our churches. They didn’t grow up in Christian homes. They don’t know how to make their own homes “Christian.” They have no model for how to love their husbands and children. These women, all women, need gracious guidance and thoughtful teaching.
Paul gave a model for women’s ministry. We need it now more than ever.
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