I know it, how did we get here… has this much time really passed? It doesn’t “feel” like I’m an older woman and I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it to you, either. But here we are, part of that “older woman” demographic.
In reality, you don’t even have to be THAT old to be an “older woman”. You’re always older than someone, right? No matter what stage of life you are in or your chronological age, you can come along side another woman and be an encouragement.
Let’s look at Titus 2:4-5 because that’s really what we’re talking about. After the instruction to older women to teach “what is good”, the older women are instructed on WHAT they are to teach. “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
I guess it doesn’t really say HOW we are to teach, but does it? When I had four children kindergarten age and under, a deaconess from my church came to visit. I was so glad to have an older woman that would take time out of her day and spend it with me. However, it didn’t turn out like I had envisioned. She told me that my children were unruly and my house was a mess. She told me that I needed to put my kids in school (instead of homeschooling) so that I could keep a proper home. Don’t be like her.
Looking across scripture as a whole, I think we can understand more of God’s heart for the older women teaching the younger women. Truly, Titus 2 teaching is really just sharing your own Christian walk with others. The honesty of it is essential. We all have ups and downs throughout our years. It is how we respond to and work through these situations that provides the best lessons.
I imagine that my list will be inadequate but I’d like to at least get us to consider what this might look like.
How? If thinking precedes speaking and thus teaching, Philippians 4:8 is a good place to look. “Whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report… think on those things”. Colossians 4:6 tells us “Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt”. In contrast to my first visitor, I received a call after I picked my kids up from VBS when they were very young. On the other end of the line was a woman named Betsy who was 10-15 years older than me. She thanked me for bringing my kids to VBS and asked how things were going. She told me that my son was a bundle of energy and asked if I felt confident in how to work with him. I melted. I shared with her how overwhelmed I really was and how I had no idea what I was doing. She listened, she encouraged and she called me back a few weeks later to see how I was doing and offer more wisdom. This was the hands and feet of Jesus, coming alongside a mother who didn’t know how or who to ask for help. She just offered.
Mentoring is often seen as a formal event but I think we can learn a lot by just living life alongside one another. Being available to each other and offering support. Listening for and watching for a young lady in need and then following through when the Lord prompts you to reach out.
I’ve been able to connect with younger moms both in formal and informal ways. Some connections begin online through groups that we’re both in, at events I take my younger kids to, or the friends of my own kids who are now adults! Betsy and I have remained friends now for 18 years and together we have ministered to moms through a Bible study in her home. Casually, I’ve been able to have dozens of moms over for play dates, canning, sewing, swimming and meals together. Each summer I host an event called “Boxcar Days” which is a fun way to get to know one another. Nancy Campbell and I talked on her podcast about having “Mothering Parties”. There are so many ways that you can build relationships, I’m sure you will find something that fits your personality and stage in life.
How often? Though this is specifically written to parents as they train their children, the style of teaching, through the daily tasks and currents of life is also a wonderful model of mentor-ship. “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:19-21 NIV
Why? Ephesians 4:12-13 “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Now, do you notice the list of qualifiers that starts this off back in the beginning of Titus 2? The part that talks about making sure you have a clean house? The perfect marriage? You have been through seminary or at least Bible college? Nah… I don’t see it there either. I know that the world, the church or even ourselves want to disqualify us for service if we don’t have a certain pedigree. But guess what? God doesn’t write us off! If we are living as 1 Timothy 3:11 requires, being worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, temperate and trustworthy we should continue in steps toward leading younger women. And even when we make mistakes, or find ourselves in “less than perfect situations” God uses that, as Paul writes in 1 Cor 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” In this way, God uses our flaws, and He gets the glory.
I think we have forgotten or maybe we have never noticed the ending of Titus 2 …. verse 15 “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you”. Be bold women, moms and grammas! If you are teaching the Word of God, then you can do it with confidence! Speak God’s truth in love to the women around you. You have authority. This effort is not a waste of time, for God promises about his Word that “It shall not return to Me void.” (Isaiah 55:11) The world needs you, the young ladies in your life need you. Accept the call.