A common question that we have all heard while growing up is: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Usually the response is in terms of our career (doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer, businessman, etc.) and when we answer that question, we usually have an image in our mind of the profession. I think it’s interesting that this question is rarely ever asked of young Christians, particularly young Christian men. Generally speaking, men tend to be extremely ambitious about their career, but tend to be relatively indifferent of their development as a Christian man. If we asked a young man “Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years?”, that young man will give a very well-thought out and detailed response that is vocational in nature. However, if we posed that question in terms of his spiritual development, it’s unlikely that he would have thought through the answer at all. One reason for this is that we have a habit of separating our vocation from our spiritual life, but I think a more important reason for this is because we don’t know what a mature, godly man (who’s not a pastor) looks like. Moreover, we think that every mature godly man that we see must be called to be an elder.
Recently, I listened to a sermon from Voddie Baucham on this topic. Here’s an excerpt of the sermon below
These are strong words, but I believe that it is an accurate assessment. There is a dearth of older, godly Christian men in the American church, which speaks volumes to the mediocrity of Christian men in America. Since we don’t have many older godly Christian men in our churches, then there isn’t an image of godliness that young Christians should strive towards. So let’s re-ask the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you see yourself in 10, 20, 30 years? Even if we don’t have older godly men to mentor us into maturity, Titus 2:2 gives us the description of the character of an older godly man.
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.
First, older men are to be sober-minded. In other words, his life is marked by deep temperance. He has control of his senses and his mind and does not live his life engaged in frivolous activity. He is not a wild, capricious man who is heated with passion; but rather he habitually exercises cool, calm reason. He watches over himself, his conduct, and conversation. Second, older men are to be dignified in their behavior, speech, and dress. Older men should behave as those befitting honor and dignity, which is typically reflected in their speech and behavior. This is sharply contrasted to young men who tend to be characterized by their vain, light, and unsubstantial conversation and relatively flippant behavior.
Third, older men are to be self-controlled. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit so self-control in a man describes the character of a man who has been transformed by the Spirit over a lengthy amount of time. Because of this, self-control is a character trait that most men do not have. Solomon warns that a man without self-control is “like a city broken into and left without walls” (cf. Proverbs 25:28). These traits describe the work of the Holy Spirit over the heart of a man. He removes our frivolity, our silliness, and our impulsiveness by creating in us self-control, sobriety, and dignity.
Fourth, older men are to be sound in faith. This means that his life is built on the foundation of the whole counsel of God and there are no cracks in his foundation. As the above clip mentioned, this is a trait that is sorely missing in our day. A sign that a man has been transformed by the Holy Spirit is that he is anchored in the faith. He is a man that is not disturbed by various types of false teaching, but he earnestly contends for the faith (cf. Jude 3). Moreover, he does not lead others into error because he is biblically, theologically, and spiritually sound. He is a man who has mastered the scriptures while also being controlled and constrained by them. Fifth, older men are to be sound in love. In other words, his love for God and for the Church is genuine without hypocrisy. He is a man whose love for Christ produces a deep revulsion from the things of the world (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). He is a man who serves as an example of how to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Because the Holy Spirit has been bearing fruit over his love over a long period of time, he is a man who serves as an example of love defined not by our culture, but by 1 Corinthians 13.
Sixth, older men are sound in steadfastness. These are men who have allowed patience to have its perfect work so that they are lacking in nothing. These are men who are examples of how to deal with suffering and persecution. These are men who are examples of how to run the Christian race, knowing that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. In essence, the Spirit of God removes the blindness and darkness from our heart by creating in us faith, love, and endurance.
From the above passage, we see how the Holy Spirit works inside of new believers so that they may grow into older godly men. We have a picture and an image of what we are striving for 30, 40 years into the future. So let’s ask again: So what do you want to be when you grow up? I pray that it’s more than a successful vocation, but that you may grow into an older, godly man for the Church.