What does true discipleship look like? We often read about it, but how does that translate to being lived out in everyday life?
In Paul’s letter to Titus, his child in the faith, he instructs him on the importance of sound doctrine and doing good works and lays out a model for passing down this instruction from one generation to the next—older men to younger men, and older women to younger women:
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 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 own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” (Titus 2:2-6)
This is organic discipleship. The fact of the matter is that we are always going to be older than someone, and we are always going to be younger than someone. We have to be pouring into the generations younger than us and we have to be willing to be poured into by those more mature than us.
I first had this modeled for me when I was a teen and young adult, even though I wouldn’t have been able to point to this passage in the Bible and tell you what was going on. But it forever changed my life. So what did it look like? The answer to that is written in a letter:
To My Mentor in the Faith,
You were the Titus 2 woman in my life before I ever knew what that was or all that it encompasses. You welcomed me into your home, even during the busyness of your life as a young mom, and taught me basic skills I would need to know later on when I myself became a wife and mother. You taught me how to make a meal for a family by cooking alongside you (when my own mom never taught me how to cook). You taught me how to plan ahead and also be prepared for the unexpected when you walked me through what to keep on hand in a pantry and freezer. You showed me how to iron clothes (I don’t even think my mom owned an iron), and allowed me to babysit your children when I had never had any experience (good thing you did, since now I have seven children!).
But even far and above practical life skills (as vital as those things are), you mentored me in spiritual things. You began teaching me the foundations of the faith when I was first converted to Christ. You showed me what a willing heart of selfless service looks like through local mission trips and service projects, and I took great joy in them. You taught me about the heart of worship, why it matters what we sing and how we sing it, because our most holy God deserves the utmost reverence. You encouraged gifts in me as you allowed me to serve in leading worship alongside you. Some of the most special memories of my whole life are of us lifting up our voices together in worship of our King, either in choir or in the praise band.
As I grew older, I remember countless hours spent in your office as you listened to me, prayed for me, offered me godly wisdom, and pointed me in the path of righteousness. I remember all of the hugs that assured me that someone really did love and care about me. I remember the young ladies Bible study you lead that taught us how to be self-disciplined in study and dig deeper into the Word of God, but also offered just a sweet time of fellowship and friendship as we enjoyed each other’s presence and prayed for each other. I remember (with tears of gratitude) how you wouldn’t “let me go” when I wandered off into sin, but instead came charging after me on your “steed”, as the legend goes, that the aged apostle John sought after his young disciple on horseback. You modeled the Father’s relentless love and faithfulness to me then, and for that I am (literally) eternally grateful.
By watching you, I’ve seen what it means to love your husband because you are always respectful and submissive to yours. You praise him in front of others instead of bashing him. You speak kindly and encouragingly to him, prioritize uninterrupted time together, and go the extra mile by baking him his favorite treat when he is feeling down. Your children rise up and call you blessed. The solid relationships you have with them as young adults shows the love that you poured into them and still do. Their godly characters are a testament to yours as you were faithful to raise them in the Lord. Your interactions with others are always kind and respectful. You absolutely refuse to engage in any form of gossip, so I know it is safe to tell you anything, even my struggles with sin.
I praise God almost every day for you! Twenty-two years after you first entered my life, it’s hard to express just how grateful I am for you and how much I treasure your friendship. You have a personality that outshines many, but it is truly your heart underneath it all that I have come to find so dependable and comforting, like that leather glove that fits just right. It has truly been a grace to me to enter this new season of friendship with you, now both grown women, spurring each other on in love and good works, bearing one another’s burdens, and lifting each other up in prayer to the Lord. Your friendship is an encouragement to me, a safe harbor in this storm-tossed world, and one of God’s good gifts to me to make the journey through this earthly soil a little more sweet. I love you, my friend.
Your True Child in the Faith