Women Helping Women

Sept. 21, 2013 Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Session Transcript

Watch the Gwen and Marlene video.

Nancy: I’d like to know and maybe you’d like to jot this down. Who has been a “Gwen” in your life? Take just a moment and jot down two or three names. An older woman who has been there and maybe not chronologically older. Sometimes it can be a younger woman that God uses in this way. But who’s been that encourager, that person who walked with you, that person who showed up and represented Christ to you? Have there been any “Gwens” in your life?

And have there been any “Marlenes” in your life? Do you have a “Marlene” in your life? Jot down any names that come to mind there. A woman that you may not have an official, formal, mentoring relationship with, but you have been in a role of helping and encouraging that woman in her walk. Is there a “Marlene” in your life? 

As I was thinking about these closing moments, my heart is just so full and I said, “I think we’ve really heard everything we need to hear." We don’t need one more message, so I’m not going to give you one more message. The things that are on my heart for this weekend have been said through various ones of our speakers. But I just want to take a few moments here and highlight some of what I think have been the key takeaways as we think about women helping women. This will be a little bit random, because I've just been listening and processing with you. And so I've got a mishmash of notes here. And I just want to hightlight some of the things that have really stood out to me.

I think we have been reminded that we are blessed to be a blessing. That we're not supposed to be this repository of truth, this reservoir where the water just goes in. But we’re supposed to be channels through whom that truth and that blessing can flow to others. We’ve been challenged to believe God to create a culture within the Body of Christ and within your church of women helping women. This is not just programs. It’s not primarily programs. There may be programs that help do that. But it’s a culture. It’s a mindset. It’s a way of thinking.

And to help others is a reflection of God’s heart because God is the helper, as we started out yesterday afternoon. He’s the helper of the helpless, the poor, the weak, and the needy. As we help others, our goal is to help women know Jesus, to really know Him, not just know about Him. And then to see them to become mature followers of Jesus Christ, to see them develop Christlike character, to learn to walk in the Spirit, to experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

We need to not lose sight of the goal in our women’s ministry programs. There are so many things we could be doing. A lot of those things that aren’t necessarily bad or wrong, but ask yourself, Is this something they could get just as easily at the Y or at another place? Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an exercise class at your church. But you kind of have to pick and choose. You want to pick priorities of what can help you help women really become those mature, reproducing followers of Jesus Christ.

Now, as Paul reminded us, and I think Elyse has as well in her sessions, sadly, in our generation we’ve become dependent on a handful of professionals to help multitudes of needy people. There is no way if those paid professionals worked full time, round the clock, that they could meet all the needs of all the needy people that are in our churches. But the tendency is to let the pastors and therapists and counselors to do the work of ministry in needy people’s lives. This is just a reminder that it is not your pastor’s job to counsel and disciple every member of the church. It is our job, as mature women of God, to be discipling and building into the lives of younger women in the church.

I really believe that we would need a lot less crisis counseling in the church if we were consistently practicing the “one another’s” of Scripture, discipling women, getting them in the Word, loving them well, cultivating godly relationships and friendships. If we were just living that way—again, not perfectly. We are sinners who need a Savior helping other sinners who need a Savior. And if you’ve heard it once this weekend, you’ve heard it maybe, I don’t know, a dozen times that our weakness and our failure help to put the gospel on display if we run to Calvary when we fail.

Now, some of us are too busy running to Mount Sinai, and that’s where you get judgment, law, and condemnation. But we can run to Calvary, Mount Calvary, and as we breathe in God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness, our lives say to others, “There is grace for you.”

I think another concern I have about women’s ministry in the church is that we’ve tended to make discipleship something that is structured and formal and official. There's nothing wrong with that. But we don’t want to miss out on the discipleship that takes place in the context of everyday life and relationships, as you just saw in that story of Gwen and Marlene.

The enemy wants to keep us and the women in our churches isolated, enduring pain privately, enduring shame and guilt privately, and striving to fix it all on our own. That whole thing of independence and isolation that is the enemy’s strategy. That is his plan. What do you see in the Garden of Eden? The husband and the wife, they sin and what are they doing? They’re hiding. They’re covering. They’re separated from God, separated from each other.

No, God wants us, as we heard last night, to come out into the light, to walk in the light in our vertical relationship with the Lord and in our horizontal relationships with others. Didn’t you feel like as Elyse was sharing that yesterday, that you could just breathe? Am I the only one who felt that way? That you can walk in the light and it’s okay. Not only is it okay, it’s right. That’s where you get the grace of God.

We were created for relationship. Getting help and helping others is a body-life matter. It is a community affair. Discipleship and nurture take place in the context of a network of relationships. So you’re not responsible for all the women you know. You’re responsible to just have the pieces and the parts that God has given you to be there in their life where God has put you. But there are other people that God wants to bring into their lives. There are other people that God wants to bring into their lives, and that network of relationships, healthy godly relationships, is where discipleship takes place.

We need to be reminded that there is an enemy who is out to devour, especially those in our bodies who are weak and young in their faith. I hope there are strong, wise, godly, praying women banding together in your church to care for and protect and come together and meet the needs of those who are young and struggling in their faith. The church needs to be a safe place where people can get honest. It’s not a hotel for healthy travelers but a hospital for those who are in need. And that’s where we experience, we receive, and we give to others that unmerited, undeserved grace of God.

We have such a tendency to pretend. We’ve been talking about that this weekend. We tend to wear masks, to hide. We want to share our successes. We want to look good. We want to be impressive. But I hope the Lord has just shot that pride in the back while we’ve been here listening and realizing that women are not going to open up their hearts to someone that they think has it all together, someone who doesn’t have any needs.

So as you go from this place, share out of your life, share out of your journey. Listen, the most effective thing you may do when you go home is not necessarily to play all the Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick videos from this weekend. There may be a time for that and those are resources that we want you to have available. But it may be most helpful first for you to go back and just share humbly and honestly where God found you and what He’s doing in your life. Share out of your journey. Share out of your fresh walk with God in the Word.

These women don’t just need to hear some canned messages and lessons that we’ve prepared and stuck in our files or on our laptops. I just find many, many days, as the Lord speaks to me in His Word, that then that day or soon thereafter, He provides opportunities. He provides opportunities for me to share out of the fresh work of what God is saying and doing in my life through His Word.

There’s so many, many ways that we can help others, and I hope that we’ve demystified this a little bit. I hope that you’ve realized that you don’t have to be some great fabulous leader or organizer to be a woman helping women.

  • Ask God to make you alert and sensitive to the needs of those around you. 
  • Be available. 
  • Ask questions. 
  • Listen. 

Be available. Listen, one of the greatest things we can do for those around us is to pray with and for them, to take them to the throne of grace where we may all receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

When somebody says, “Would you pray for me about something?”, don’t just say, “Yes, I’ll pray about it.” Stop right there and pray.

A couple of weeks ago in my church, after the service I was there for maybe thirty minutes. One Sunday a woman came up to me; I hardly know her. She’s an older woman. She brought me her grown daughter, whom I’d never met. And she said, “My daughter has some very serious needs in her life. Would you pray for her?”

So we stood there. I had no ideas what the needs were. This was a five-minute exchange. But I just said, “Let me take you to the throne of grace.” I prayed for grace in that woman’s life and for God to meet her needs. Now, prayerfully God will bring other women into her life, as well. But that was just that quick moment.

That same Sunday a woman came and shared with me. We ended up in a conversation about her young adult children who have some issues. We shared and talked, and I encouraged her about some of those issues.

Then that same Sunday my pastor resigned. I didn’t know walking into the services that morning that was going to happen. But afterward, the place I wanted to make a beeline to was right to his wife. This has been a very emotional transition for them, and to put my arms around her, to pray for her, to take her to God’s throne of grace.

I have no title in my church at all. None. I’m a worshiper. I’m a repenter. I get under the preaching of the Word. I have no title. But I’m a member of the Body of Christ, and I can be a woman helping women.

You can do it with encouragement, with texts. I’ve had so many texts this week from people who are praying for me. They’re encouraging; they’re speaking into my life. A lot of ministry can go on with texting, with emails, with Facebook messages. Use these things, if you’re going to use them, use them for good and for women to be helping women. How many people, their marriages are falling apart because they are having illicit relationships through social media. Let’s redeem those opportunities. Instead of using them to sin or to gossip or to fritter away our lives, if you’re going to use them, use them to invest in other’s lives.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can never post a recipe. But there is a lot of frivolity and needless chatter going on through these means. Let’s use these tools to speak into each other’s lives, to send Scriptures. I have a friend whose husband has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. They’ve been going through a very difficult time of great sickness and chemo treatments and I, along with others in this dear wife’s life, were sending Scriptures, were sending words of encouragement, just short and quick and frequent ways of women helping women.

As you find a resource that’s helpful to you, share it. I don’t know how many people I’ve shared that wonderful little CD with called Hidden in My Heart. It’s a lullaby CD, but it’s Scripture set to music. When I know of women who are hurting or struggling or stressed out or overwhelmed, I’ll send them often a CD like this to encourage their heart.

I sent a link to young moms recently of an article I read that I thought would encourage them in their tasks as young moms. And I just emailed it with a little cover note, “I thought this would bless and encourage you as a young mom.”

You have practical abilities and gifts you can use to help others, help for young moms or new moms who . . . Some of these moms never were mothered. Some of them have never held a baby until they held their own in their arms. Some of them have got a lot of little ones, and they just need a little bit of a break. They may think they’re losing their minds, but maybe they just need a word of encouragement.

I’ll tell you, again, I go back to the gym. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way in the gym and in life. Friendships, relationships, the “one another’s” of Scripture, accountability, checking in with each other, asking questions, and so much of this is simple, daily, ongoing ways that we can help others.

Now, I know it’s easy to feel that there’s so much need. It’s overwhelming. But just remember, we’re not called to help everyone. We’re called to just be sensitive to the Spirit and to be responsive when He prompts us. Just to stop thinking about ourselves and our feelings and our moods and how our day is going and just be sensitive to the people God has put around us that we can encourage.

Now, change and growth take time. There are no quick fixes. A lot of people are carrying a lot of baggage with them from a lot of years. So we may have to be in it with people’s lives for the long haul. But how long has God been in it with us? He is in it for the long haul with us. People are broken and poor and needy. It’s easy to think that you have to have an advanced degree or extraordinary counseling skills or broad life experience to be able to help others. But remember that the Lord gives wisdom. Ultimately only He can help and rescue people. He is their Savior. We are not the Savior. Does that take some pressure off? I know it does for me.

I was reading in the book of Ezekiel in the past week or so. We talk about the sin of Sodom? But here Scripture says is what was their sin. They had "pride, excess of food and prosperous ease but did not aid the poor and needy” (16:49). They didn’t help. They were too selfish and self-satisfied to help others.

Unless you have an extraordinary gift of mercy (which I’ve never been accused of having, but I want to be more like Jesus and Jesus was very merciful), most of us would rather deal with healthy people than sick people, right? But the problem is we’re all sick. So get used to it. Helping others is messy. It’s not easy. It takes time and effort and sacrifice and being poured out.

Someone has said it this way:

Ministry is giving when you feel like keeping; praying for others when you need to be prayed for; feeding others when your own soul is hungry; living truth before people even when you can’t see results. Ministry is hurting with other people even when your own hurt can’t be spoken. Ministry is keeping your word even when it’s not convenient. And ministry is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away.

The apostle Paul said, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35–36).

And so, O Lord, I pray that in the days ahead You would make us givers, servants. I know these women are. That’s why they’re here. That’s why they care about a conference like this. But I just pray for grace, that You would fill them up with Your grace, that You would support them strongly, that You would help us as we help others. Thank you, Lord, that You are the great Savior and Helper and Redeemer. As we go from this place, we want to do it in the fullness of the power of Your Holy Spirit and for Your glory. I pray it in Jesus' name, amen.