“But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance...In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.” — Titus 2:1-2, 6-8
When I first became a teacher, I knew it was my calling. I knew that I would be impacting the lives of young men and women in my class. A few years into my career, one of our coaches passed away from cancer. As part of the coaching staff, I attended the funeral. It was during this service that the verses of Titus 2 became my life verses.
While sitting at the funeral, the son of our beloved coach began to read a highlighted passage from his father’s Bible — a passage that had directed his father’s life and teaching for his entire career. As I listened to him read Titus 2:1-2 and 6-8, I realized I was not only teaching kids with what I say, but with everything I do. I realized that my calling and impact extended way outside the classroom. In that moment, it became very clear that I would be teaching more with my actions than with my words.
As the years have passed by, I am reminded of these truths when visited by former players and students. Most do not remember the class content or lessons we went over in that year. Instead, they always remember the time we spent together talking about important things in their lives at the time — goals and dreams that shaped the path they embarked on after leaving my class. I could never have guessed those moments helped shape them into the young men and women they have become.
I realized that even though I make mistakes on a daily basis, what I should strive for is very clear. As a teacher, I must be “self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith” in all areas of my life. This includes times when I am not in “teacher” mode. Just because I leave the class doesn’t mean teaching stops, it only changes form.
We have all heard that actions speak louder than words. Whether you believe it, you have already influenced someone’s life in ways you may never know. The question is, how? For me, this question resonated loud and clear at that funeral. Was I being a good example to those in my life? Was I an example of integrity and sound teaching? Was I living my life as an example worthy to be respected and modeled by those God had entrusted me to teach?
I believe that we are all teachers in some way. From the oldest generation in the church to the kids in preschool ministry, we all influence the lives around us. In the church, I watch younger kids try to emulate older youth. In the same way, youth try to be like college students and young adults. Whatever your walk of life, there are people around you who look up to you. This is a very sobering thought. Who I am in my actions, words, and thoughts teaches things to those around me.
Now as a father, these truths hit home on an everyday basis. I see things I have taught my children through my actions, both good and bad. I am reminded daily that I am looked up to by both my son and daughter as a model of what a man, husband, and father should be. I know I make mistakes, and I know that I miss the mark often. By His grace, God continues to use mentors, friends, Small Group, and even my own children to correct me and continue to mold me into a Titus 2 man.
I am reminded often that God has given us His Word to help guide and direct us. We should in all things “be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.” Titus gives us these inspiring words not as an impossible challenge, but to remind us how we should teach and encourage those around us.
Chris Croyle and his wife, Brittany, have been married for 11 years and have two children: Caden (8) and Isabel (5). They’ve been members of Brook Hills since 2012 and currently serve in the Preschool Guest Check-In and on Wednesday nights with Student Ministry as seventh grade small group leaders.