Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Developing Authentic Sisterhood, Day 1

Leslie Basham: What does authentic sisterhood look like? Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: This is not a program, though there are some great mentoring programs, but this is a way of life. It’s a lifestyle; it’s organic.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Thursday, February 2, 2017.

Well, Nancy, next week is your big delivery date!

Nancy: It sure is, Leslie! I don’t have any biological children. Every time I’ve written a book, I say it’s felt like giving birth. My sister who has five kids says I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I assure her I do know something about the subject, as I’ve labored now to produce—I believe this is the nineteenth book.

That sense of giving birth has been especially true for this book that will be released next week. It’s called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.

It’s a study—verse by verse, phrase by phrase, word by word—of just that first paragraph in Titus 2 where Paul talks to Pastor Titus about the importance of challenging older women to pass the baton of faith onto the younger women in the church.

And to go along with the release of that book, I’ll be teaching through this passage in Titus chapter 2, starting next week and ending in early April. I hope you’ll join us each weekday for that series, starting next week.

Leslie: And to help prepare for that series, we’ll get a little taste of Titus 2 today, and hear some of your thoughts when you were in the final stages of writing the book Adorned. You referenced those topics when you gave a presentation on developing authentic sisterhood.

Let’s listen as Nancy explains why we need genuine, godly friendships in the body of Christ.

Nancy: Adorned! I’ve been thinking about that title—that topic—of Adorned for a long time! Actually, the genesis—the origins—of that book . . . I looked it up on my laptop today . . . was somewhere about in 2007, when I set out to teach through Titus 2:3–5.

Because of all the time and effort that had gone into that, and the way the Lord had really impacted my life through the study, I decided, “Someday, I would like to write a book on this subject, on those themes.”

When I started working on that book, I was one of the younger women that Titus talks about. When I finished the book—about two weeks ago—I was one of the older women that Titus 2 talks about! (laughter) So I’ve been in both seasons over the course of writing this book.

When I started writing that book, I was Nancy Leigh DeMoss. When I finished writing the book, I was Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. So, a lot of things have changed in my life in the course of writing this book on Titus 2.

Over the last eight years or so—and even going back years earlier, studying this passage . . . Let me encourage you to turn there, because we’re going to spend some time in that passage. Somebody asked if I have Powerpoint or slides or show-and-tell.

I’m not one of the creative ones in this sisterhood. I’m just going to say, “Let’s open our Bibles and get going.” But, let me just introduce it a little bit this way: As I’ve lived with this passage over these years, I’ve grown in my understanding of these qualities that Paul talks about.

In fact, we’re going to re-air the Titus 2 radio series when the book launches, but I’m going to re-record some of the programs, because I’ve done a lot of thinking and growing in my own understanding about what some of these words mean. I haven’t arrived yet. If we do this in another ten years, I think I would want to re-record some more of those programs.

But I’ve really wrestled and grappled with, “What do some of these words mean? How do we apply them in our lives?” So, there’s growth involved here. The fact that you write a book is a little scary, because then it’s out there and people say, “That’s what she believes. That’s what she thinks.”

Only this Book [the Bible] is the one that doesn’t change—that doesn’t need to be “re-recorded” so to speak, right? God doesn’t need an editor. I do! I’ve had opportunity over these years to experience the joys—and the challenges—of living out what Paul says to Titus.

I’ve become more and more convinced—in just my own walk with the Lord—of the importance of women’s friendships . . . “sisterhood.” We’re going to talk about that with some of my sisters and the importance of spiritual mothering—both for our own lives and for the life and health of the church and for the outreach of the gospel into the world.

I saw a great illustration this morning of what we’re going to be talking about, and the whole concept of Titus 2—older women, younger women, passing the baton on to the next generation. The Lord, in His providence (I love the way He does this) had me experience something, and I said, “That’s what this topic is about.”

I went to get my hair done this morning. Christina was the gal who helped me with my hair this morning. When I called to make the appointment, I said, “I’m a middle-aged gray-haired woman. Do you have somebody who can handle that? I don’t want somebody who specializes in twenty-year-olds. That’s really not me.”

The lady who made the appointment said, “Christina is one of our best stylists, and she happens to have an opening, so we’ll let you have her.” I got to meet Christina. She’s been at the salon for ten years. I got to meet her two assistants (they called themselves that); one was named Nikki, the other was named Faith.

It turns out, this salon has an apprenticeship program. When Christina got out of beauty school ten years ago, she came to this salon, and she became one of their first apprentices. I said to her, “You’re called one of the best stylists here, now you’re training other stylists. Who helped you?”

She said, “Oh! There were two women who kind of took me under their wing, when I was just out of beauty school. One of 'em, we didn’t mix so well; I wasn’t so crazy about the way she did things.” But she said, “The other woman . . . I loved her! She invested in me, and I learned everything I could from her.”

I asked, “How much influence did she have on the way you do things do now?”

She said, “Ninety percent of what I know and do now, I learned from that woman. I learned almost nothing in beauty school that I’m using today. In fact, when we get girls into our apprentice program, we want to get them right out of beauty school so we can teach them before they learn mistakes, so we can undo a lot of what they’ve learned in school that just doesn’t apply to real life.”

Well, I’m listening to this while her apprentice/assistant, Faith, is standing right there. She's this young, fresh, vibrant gal who just got out of beauty school, and she’s been in the apprentice program since April. She’s looking at her mentor, and she’s watching how her mentor does this. 

She had another one of her gals helping with what they call a “blowout.” (I don’t quite like talking about a “blowout” when it comes to talking about my hair!) But that’s what they call it—the blow dry—that’s the official term, I guess . . . the “blowout.”

So, she had one of her apprentices helping her, and she’s pointing out, saying, “Now do this like this.” She’s teaching, she’s training, she’s doing it on the job. I asked, “Do you like the teaching part?” (She loves styling!)

She said, “I love it!”

I asked, “How many girls have you taught?”

She said, “Hmmm . . .” She counted up, and said, “Eight.” Then she said, “They do a year each. I show them all kinds of different aspects, then they get certified in that. Then the next month we’re teaching them something else. I show them how, I tell them how it’s done, then I let them do it, and I supervise. I watch, I encourage. Then they’re off doing it on their own.” And here’s what I loved. “I love doing hair!” She said that. (That’s not me. I don’t love doing hair. She loves doing hair.)

She said, “What I really love is seeing somebody that one of my girls just did their hair, and it’s beautiful! And I love thinking, I taught her how to do that—and that woman looks terrific!She’s passing on the trade, passing on the tips, passing on how to think. 

She said, “A lot of these kids get out of beauty school, and then they go and get right into a salon and start working. Those people burn out, or they go from salon to salon to salon, and they don’t last.” But here, she’s training up women who are going to last.

I thought, What a picture this is of what Paul was talking to Titus about in Titus chapter 2! We’re talking about a Titus 2 perspective today of sisterhood—women’s friendships and of spiritual mothering. This has everything to do with our mission, our calling, our purpose.

You’re going to pardon me, because I’m really full, because I’ve been living in this passage a lot over the last couple of years. You prick me, and I bleed Titus 2. So you’re getting me as I’m really full here.

This is a passage that applies to women of every age, every culture, every demographic, every background. This is what I love about this passage. It is for all of us: if you’re shy, if you’re introverted, if you’re extroverted, if you think you could never get up on a platform and talk . . . Titus 2 is still for you.

Whatever you think your gifts may or not be . . . You may think, I’m most comfortable way away from talking! or I could never teach! Titus 2 is for you. In fact, just a couple of months ago, Robert and I had the privilege of going and visiting Jennifer in McPherson Women’s Prison in Arkansas.

I opened my Bible in that room of—I don’t know—fifty or sixty women, seated around tables with their Bibles open and their notebooks and their pens, writing furiously. I talked through this passage with a little more length than we’ll have time to do today.

Some of those women are serving life without possibility of parole for Murder One. What purpose do they have? What mission do they have? What gets them up in the morning with joy, with a sense of calling? Titus 2 will do that! I said to them, “Every one of you in this room fits into this passage. This passage fits into you. This is for you.” And we talked through it.

Now, you know the background—and just a real quick refresher, if you don’t: You remember that Titus was a pastor on this island of Crete. This was a new, little, fledging church, and they were living under the fist of the Roman Empire. Nero was the Emperor. He was a ruthless, vicious man, and he was determined to stamp out Christianity. And so, here’s this little nothing church in a culture that is totally going the opposite direction. You are swimming upstream!

These believers had to be scared. They had to be wondering, How do we survive in this kind of world? Much less, how do we thrive in this kind of world? Much less, how do we evangelize this world that is dead set against us? Aren’t we asking some of those same questions today?

So in chapter 1 (we won’t go through this), Paul says the first thing you’ve got to have is biblically qualified leaders who will teach the Word of God, will lead the people to follow the Word of God, and will know how to counter false teaching.

They have to protect, they direct, they lead, they feed . . . and that’s a lot of chapter 1. Then he gets to chapter 2, and he says, “You need to be grounded in sound doctrine.” In this book, we have a whole chapter early on in the book on doctrine. And I’m thinking, How to get people not to buy a book! They’ll look at the table of contents, and they see, "Chapter 2: Doctrine."

Well, we don’t quite call it that—well, we kind of do—we call it Titus 2: Doctrine and You, because it’s so, so important! All the rest of this passage will make no sense at all—and will actually be dangerous in our hands—if we’re not grounded in the Word of God.

So Paul says, “Teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1 ESV). He tells that to Pastor Titus. And then, through the rest of chapter 2, he talks about all different kinds of relationships and demographics: men, women, older, younger. He even goes on to servants and slaves and masters and people in different socio-economic categories and different age groups. 

Those three verses (Titus 2:3–5)—this little gem parked in there is surrounded by the rest of this context of grace-filled living. How do we make the gospel believable in this generation that has no concept of what gospel grace is about . . . and is going the opposite direction?

Well, one of the things he says is that there have to be older women who are modeling the truth. Let me just stop at “older women,” there. How many of you would not be afraid to say, “I’m an older woman?” Like—most of us! Let me say this: every woman in this room is an older woman to somebody, right?! (laughter) So, we’ve got a lot of older women here.

Now, I think—strictly speaking, in the context—Paul’s probably talking about women who are past their child-bearing and child-rearing years. So, today, wouldn’t that be (depends on how late you have children) middle-aged women (who would have been “older women” in that era, when the life-expectancy wasn’t so great).

You know, I don’t know when you decide that you’re an older woman. I remember the day it occurred to me, “I’m not a brunette.” (laughter) Now, I hadn’t been a brunette for years, but it hadn’t really dawned on me. When I filled out my driver’s license, at the question about hair color, I always put “brown.” Well, my hair’s not brown! When did that dawn on me?

So, when do you become an older woman? For those of you who may be afraid of that moniker—here’s something for you, something I read yesterday . . . some of the perks of being over fifty:

  • Kidnappers are not interested in you. (laughter)
  • In a hostage situation, you’re likely to be released first.
  • No one expects you to rush into a burning building.
  • People call at 9 p.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?”
  • People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
  • There’s nothing left to learn the hard way.
  • Things you buy now won’t wear out. Great!
  • You can eat dinner at 4 p.m.
  • You enjoy hearing about other people’s operations.
  • You get into heated arguments about pension plans.
  • You have a party and the neighbors don’t even realize it.
  • You sing along with the elevator music.
  • Your eyes won’t get much worse!
  • Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off!
  • Your joints are more accurate than the National Weather Service.
  • Your secrets are safe with your friends, because they can’t remember them either!
  • And, last—you can’t remember who sent you this list. So . . . it’s not so bad!

Actually, we see in this passage that to aspire to be this kind of older woman is a great joy! This is a treasure. Women like this are a gift to the body of Christ. They are a gift to their families. They’re a gift to their children and their grandchildren.

Or, if they’re single women, they’re a gift to the families of others, they’re a gift to teenage girls and women in the work force. They’re a gift to families in the body of Christ. They’re a gift to the world that doesn’t know Jesus . . . older women.

The passage starts (and I’m just giving you the broadest possible overview here) with saying, “This is what these women are like. This is their character.” And Paul uses three terms here (we won’t unpack them). He says they are to be “reverent in behavior.”

Now, some of you are already thinking, Well, this gathering doesn’t feel very reverent. We’ve been laughing. That can’t be reverent. Listen, reverence doesn’t have anything to do with talking quietly in hushed tones. You can talk that way and not be a reverent woman, right?

And you can laugh and have a blast, which some of the women in this sisterhood . . . I’m the serious one in this sisterhood . . . mostly! Reverent in behavior . . . we unpack this in Adorned. It’s a word that means “living as one who is engaged in sacred duties—all the time.”

That doesn’t mean you’re in church all the time. That doesn’t mean you’re always leading a Bible study, or you’re always talking about Titus 2. What it means is, whatever you’re doing—little tasks, menial tasks, tough tasks, family tasks, having fun, recreation, at the gym, at the soccer practice—wherever you are, you’re living as a woman who is engaged in sacred duties . . . because they are sacred duties. That’s a woman who’s reverent in behavior.

Then the passage says, two ways that comes out (two ways that’s seen) are, first of all, she’s not a slanderer (how she uses her tongue), and she is not addicted to much wine. Now you say, “Why? Were all the older women drinking on the island of Crete?” Well, I think there’s a whole bigger picture there about our tendency toward excess.

My husband and I have been talking a lot of about this. In my own life this is something where this study has really been searching, to me. We’re not going to talk more about that today, but it's the issue of bondage and getting free from things that would enslave us.

Older women, we need to be examples of this, models of this that younger women—who struggle with these issues—can look at us. Not to feel, “Oh, she’s arrived!” or “She never struggled with this,” because we’re going to be honest about our struggles. But they can come, and we can say to them, “Here’s where I’ve struggled, but here’s how God has met me with His grace. Here’s how God has changed me. Let me walk with you, as we grow in this together!” This is what the older women are to be like. This is what the younger women are to aspire to be like.

Here’s what they do. Titus 2:3–4: “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women.” We have a job, women! And this isn’t just for people who have big conferences and teach the Bible study at your church. All women are to aspire to be this kind of woman.

“To teach what is good.” That doesn’t mean you do it with a microphone or PowerPoint. It means out of your life and in relationships, in the laboratory of life, in the church aisle, at the gym, wherever you are with other women, your life is teaching!

You’re bringing women—younger women—under your wing, and you’re always teaching. You are always teaching. It’s good teaching or bad teaching, but you’re always teaching. The way I respond to pressure is teaching the younger women around me.

“To teach what is good, and so train the young women.” The way that we’ve had to be trained, and we are being trained. This is what we are to do, and this what we are to train, this is what we are to teach the younger women: “Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, [to be] working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands . . .” We’re not going to unpack all those. I just want to give you the broadest overview here.

But let me say: younger women, older women—we cannot do this on our own. We need each other! That’s why God has given us, within the body of Christ, these relationships. What did Christina tell me at the salon this morning? “I didn’t learn it in beauty school. I learned it on the job. I learned it in real life with a mentor, with an experienced woman, with an older woman who took me under her wing, with one who took the time to share with me out of her experience.”

Can you imagine if we were doing this in the body of Christ all the time? How many pastoral counseling situations might not even have to happen! Because in the context of life, we would be encouraging and discipling and mentoring one another. This is not a program—though there are some great mentoring programs—but this is a way of life. It’s a lifestyle—it’s organic.

Let me just close with two thoughts here. At our wedding, I realized afterwards that the women who had been a part of my life that day had kind of been in three different categories: There was an older woman (her name was Vonette Bright). Six weeks later she was with the Lord. She was dying of leukemia at the time. She did everything she could to get from her home in Florida to our wedding in the Chicago area. She was eighty-eight years old. She’s been a part of my life for all my life. She asked if she could come to talk to me in the bride’s room—she wanted to pray with me—minutes before the wedding.

When her wheelchair was rolled up to me, and we got a few quiet minutes alone, she said, “Honey, I’m a momma, and I just want to know . . . is there anything you’d like to ask a momma before you get married?” Now, I won’t tell you about the rest of the conversation because I’ve gone over my time. You can read the book and find out what she told me. (laughter) But there was the older woman, representative of many older women who have poured into my life.

And then there was the sisterhood. Now, I’ve got a lot of women who are a part of “the sisterhood” in my life, but there’s a little group of us who meet periodically—we talk, we pray, we text incessantly. Several us are here to share together today. These women, some older, some younger, some funny, some more serious . . . a lot of different backgrounds. But we speak into each other’s lives. Friendship. It’s built over years. It didn’t happen overnight.

And then—we didn’t have attendants at our wedding—there were ten little girls. The oldest was about ten, and they’re grandchildren of some of my best friends. So I’ve known these little girls all their lives. Dressed in little red dresses, some of them in little white dresses, hair just done up. They went down the aisle ahead of Robert (my brother who gave me away) and me, ringing bells. And then they followed Robert (my husband) and me out at the end, ringing bells. And I thought, These little women are the next generation of true women!

And so, I had in those three groups of women, just a picture of what Titus 2 is about, and how we are called to live out the beauty of the gospel together. And why? Paul gives us three reasons in Titus 2.

I won’t unpack them, but the first and the third—let me just mention. The first, “. . . that the word of God [may not be] blasphemed” (Titus 2:5 KJV). That people will not speak evil of God’s way when they see women’s lives. That’s the negative.

Here’s the positive: “. . . in order that in everything [you] may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10).

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been giving us a taste of Titus chapter 2—and telling us about some of the older women, peers, and younger women in her life. In a few minutes she’ll pray with us as we develop those kinds of friendships.

And, Nancy, I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when we hear from some members of “the sisterhood.”

Nancy: Yes, Leslie. This group that we call “the sisterhood” is a group of friends that I referenced in the message we just heard. There was a point in my life several years ago when I realized that I needed some women to come alongside of me and encourage me—and I wanted to do the same for them. So, over the years, I’ve had the joy of developing some deep friendships with these women, and you’ll be hearing from some of them tomorrow.

Leslie: And then, next week, listeners can go deep into Titus chapter 2, verses 1–5. Today we skimmed the surface. Next week, we take the “deep dive.”

Nancy: Deep dive, for sure! I am so excited to study this Titus 2 passage, this core passage for us as women. We’re going to go through it verse by verse, and take our time to just soak in it and get from it all that we can possibly we can . . . to understand—whether we’re older women or younger women or both—how this affects our walk and our relationships with other women.

Now, taking nearly two months to walk through one series like this Adorned series takes some faith, because when we are in a shorter series on practical topics like raising toddlers, or marriage, or eating disorders, a lot of listeners respond, and we often see a spike in donations.

But when we take a longer time to teach through a passage of Scripture, the daily response sometimes tapers off. That’s why a group of listeners called our Ministry Partner Team helps make this kind of in-depth, practical Bible teaching possible.

Our partner team provides consistent monthly support that gives stability to the ministry month after month, when listener donations may fluctuate some. Our Ministry Partners are closely tied into the mission of Revive Our Hearts. They stay connected with us, and we stay connected with them.

For example, our partners receive a devotional booklet each month that we call Daily Reflections. It’s produced just for our partners. When you sign up to be a Ministry Partner this week, we want to say "thank you" by sending you my upcoming book called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. (It’s going to be released next Tuesday).

And our Ministry Partners also receive one complimentary registration to a conference each year. That’s because we want you to be connected with the ministry, and to be able to see how your support—month after month—is affecting thousands of lives. That means this year our partners can attend Revive '17 (the conference we’ll be hosting in the fall) at no charge.

That’s how we encourage our Ministry Partners. How do they encourage us? Well, they provide crucial support through praying for this ministry, through sharing the ministry and its resources with others, and through supporting the ministry financially, at least thirty dollars each month.

Some partners are able to a lot more than that monthly, but all of them are investing in making this ministry possible. So if you’ve been tied into this ministry, you’ve been listening to the broadcast, you’ve been using our resources, you’ve found it to be a help and a blessing in your life, would you ask the Lord if He would want you to be a part of our Ministry Partner Team?

Now, of course, your giving to our partner team would be over and above to whatever you’re giving to the ministry of your local church. That is really important! But, if the Lord has provided, and you could give above and beyond that each month, we’d love to have you be a part of our partner team.

You can get all the details on how to do that by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. I want to say a huge "thank you" to each person who is currently a part of our ministry team, and to those who will be joining us on that team over these next days.

Leslie: Tomorrow, we’ll hear from members of Nancy’s “sisterhood,” friends who share life together. Hear why Carolyn McCully once cried through a whole box of tissues at Nancy’s house. Holly Elliff will explain why Nancy used to avoid sitting with women at staff events. And Dannah Gresh will explain why buying ketchup at the grocery store has been so emotional for her lately.

All of that, tomorrow, on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is a supporter of genuine, godly friendships everywhere . . . and an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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