“Older men should be level-headed, dignified, prudent, sound in faith, love, and patience.”
And what characterizes the older men? These attributes are much the same as what is required of those who will serve as Elders in the church. To begin, they must be level-headed. In Greek, this is νηφάλιος (naphalios), which means to be “sober-minded, level-headed, self-controlled, or to be reasonably restrained in your conduct. The answer as to why this is important should be obvious. In Christ’s church we are to lead through service and grace, not like the gentiles do, by lording their power over those in their charge (Matthew 20:25-26). Further, as Jesus was controlled in his passions (even his anger in the Temple courts served his Father’s purpose), we too are to be controlled in our passions as we grow into the image of Christ. Our Older men should exemplify this.
They are to be dignified — σεμνός (semnos) — worthy of respect, honorable, or worthy of respect. How clearly we should see Paul’s model for the church. It is the young who are to be looking toward the old for guidance and wisdom and thus direction, not the other way around. Similarly, older men should demonstrate prudence — σώφρων (sophron) — another way of speaking of self-control and not running rashly off in this direction or that direction. It is the young that are known for their impetuousness, it is not so common with the old. And God is not impetuous.
In addition, these men are to be sound in faith, love, and patience. Soundness — ὑγιαίνω (huhiaino) — deals with being accurate, correct, and not in error. How does this apply to faith, love, and patience? Their faith must be grounded in Jesus Christ, their love must be expressed first to God and then to man, and their patience with men (and God’s timing for the answer of prayers) must be unshakable. This is a model of Christian maturity toward which all of the church should be striving to emulate.