Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 18

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We have an obligation; we have a responsibility to get involved in the lives of these younger women. If they’re not thinking straight, if they’re not living godly lives, if they’re not succeeding in their marriage and their parenting, we as older women have to ask ourselves, “Have we fulfilled our responsibility to train these younger women to be sober-minded and sensible and self-controlled?”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Yesterday Nancy inspired a lot of people to invest in the lives of younger women. Today she’ll offer some ways to get started in the series "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: I have a number of friends who are entering the empty nest stage. Their children are graduating from college; they’re getting married. These women have spent so many years investing their lives in their children. Some of them are home schooling, and their lives are really in a major season of change right now.

I’ve heard some of those women wondering out loud, What am I supposed to do now? Life is so changing. What’s my purpose? What’s my identity? What’s my mission at this season of life?

Well thankfully, God’s Word tells you what you’re supposed to do if you find yourself in that situation. If you find yourself moving into that season of life where you don’t have children in the home, God has a purpose for you in this season of life that is critical. It is absolutely crucial to the body of Christ. It’s a function; it’s a role; it’s a responsibility that no one but you can fulfill.

That’s what we’re talking about in this series on Titus chapter 2. Now we’ve been looking at the character of older women. In the New Testament these would have been women who were about the age of sixty. But the age is really not so crucial as the season of life.

They’ve raised their kids. They have been faithful as wives and moms. And now they’re in a new season of life. God tells them first of all what kind of character they’re supposed to have.

We’ve seen who they are, the kind of life they’re supposed to live, the kind of life that they’re supposed to model to younger women.

So Titus 2:3 tells us that older women are to be:

  • reverent in behavior.
  • They’re not to be slanderers.
  • They’ve got to control their tongue.
  • They’re not to be slaves to much wine.
  • They’re not to be addicts.
  • They’re not supposed to be compulsive or impulsive in their use of substances.

But I think as we studied that it’s that they’re not supposed to be slaves to anything other than Christ. They’re not supposed to be addictive. They’re supposed to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. So that’s what kind of women they are.

Now we come in our study to what these women are supposed to do—not just their character but their mission, their ministry. And we read at the end of verse 3 that they are to teach what is good. We talked about that in the last session.

And then verse 4: “And so train the young women.” They are to teach what is good and so train the young women.

So here are women who have fulfilled their responsibility to train their own children. And now they’re responsible to help train others in the next generation.

Now the verb that is translated in my Bible, the English Standard Version and I believe also in the New International Version, to train, is a word that is translated differently in different translations. It’s a verb. If you care about the Greek word, it’s sophronidzo. It’s the only place that this word is used in the New Testament.

We’ve seen the adjective form of this verb, the word sophron. We saw it in chapter 1, and then we saw it again in chapter 2, verse 2 where we were told that older men are to be self-controlled or sensible. That’s a similar word to the word we’re seeing now that is "to train."

You say, “What do they have in common? How does 'to train' relate to being sensible or self-controlled?"

Well, it’s a bigger word family, a group of words in different forms. This word in its different forms is used six times in the book of Titus. As I begin studying a book, one of the things I do is circle or mark words that are repeated; they’re emphasized. I want to notice that. I have the word self-controlled circled in the book of Titus. This word in its various forms occurs six times.

That says, “This is an important concept.” It’s a concept that Paul emphasized as he wanted these early believers to know how to make the gospel believable in a pagan culture. It’s an important concept not only in Paul’s culture which was pagan, but in our culture which is equally or more pagan and desperately needs to see this character quality of being sensible, being self-controlled.

Today we want to look at this word, this concept, in the context of Paul’s instructions to older women. But we’ll come back to this word again down the road in this series when we get to verse 5 where the word is used in another form as it relates to younger women.

So here we are at the beginning of verse 4: “So train the young women.” The New American Standard says, “So they may encourage the young women.” The New King James says, “So they may admonish the young women.” The King James says it in a way that I actually think is the best translation here: “So that they may teach the young women to be sober.”

This is actually a complex verb that is not easily translated with one word. That’s why we see so many translations of it. It means “to make of a sound mind; to instruct or train someone to behave wisely and properly.”1 It has to do with older women training younger women to think and act with a sound mind, teaching them to be mentally stable.

It has to do with bringing someone to their senses. Some of you who have two year olds say, “Yes, that’s what I’m doing in my life right now, trying to bring this child to his senses.” Or maybe you have a teenager, and it’s this training process trying to bring them to their senses so they think correctly. Because you know if they think correctly, they will live correctly.

It’s older women helping younger women to have stability of thinking, sanity of mind—to be mentally sane; to be sound in their thinking and then therefore sound in the way that they live. It’s the concept of training someone to be self-controlled, to be spiritually disciplined.

Now I think you can tell as I’m talking about this word this is not something you just sit down and have one lesson and it’s all over with. It’s developing new patterns, developing new ways of thinking. That’s why the word training is in there. It’s a process of training someone through advising them, encouraging them, urging them, helping them to get to the place where they are balanced and steady and can stand on their own two feet spiritually.

So this is training in the art of self-control and self-restraint. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a lot of women today in our culture are living lives that are not self-controlled. They’re not sober; they’re not sensible.

Just read People magazine. Just think about the kinds of stories and pictures and anecdotes that you’ll find in a magazine like that. Or watch television and just think about what kind of women are highlighted today. Are they sensible? Are they sober-minded? Are they self-controlled? That is not the kind of woman that you see front and center in most of our culture today.

But sadly, it’s also true of many women and wives and mothers within the church, not just out in our pagan culture. You can look around you in our churches and the Christian community today, and you can see a lot of women whose lives have spun out of control. Many of them are making foolish choices, and they are living with the consequences of those choices.

All of us at times face problems: issues in the workplace, marriage, with children, in their relationships. We see many of those women today don't have the capacity to think clearly, to know how to respond to those problems, how to deal with those issues. I'm looking at my friend Kathy who's facing a serious health issue. 

I’m saying most women today when they face a crisis in their lives, even Christian women, don’t know how to stay steady on their feet. They don’t know how to think soundly.

So they get overwhelmed, overtaken. And we’ll see as we get into this series a bit further, some of the consequences of not having sound thinking. So we have a lot of women today who are living frivolous, careless lives, spending their time on empty pursuits. Their conversation is foolish and vain. They’re carried away by the values of this world.

For those of us who are older women or are moving into that category, there’s a temptation (I find it in my own life) to look at the younger generation of women and to roll my eyes and sigh and think, The problem with this generation is . . . and then finish the sentence.

“I cannot believe the way women act today. I cannot believe the way these women are . . .” whatever, whatever.

Well according to God’s Word, if you’re having those thoughts, as I confess I sometimes do, we are not to just sit on the sidelines and critique. We have an obligation; we have a responsibility to roll up our sleeves and get involved in the lives of these younger women.

If they are not thinking straight, if they are not living godly lives, if they are not succeeding in their marriage and parenting, we as older women have to ask ourselves, “Have we fulfilled our responsibility to train these younger women to be sober-minded and sensible and self-controlled?”

You see, as older women we’re supposed to be modeling the beauty of an ordered life that’s lived under the control and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our lives are supposed to be creating thirst and appetite and hunger in the lives of these younger women.

We’re supposed to be getting up close to them, life-to-life, heartbeat-to-heartbeat, up close and personal, into their lives, into their faces, loving them, training them, urging them, admonishing them and encouraging them, helping them develop a life that is lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

I find that so many younger women today just by virtue of the way they’ve been parented or not parented are clueless when it comes to many practical aspects of marriage and parenting. They have no concept of how to make a marriage work or how to raise kids.

I’m thinking of a friend of mine who had her first child at the age of twenty-seven. She had never held a baby in her life. She needed an older woman to come alongside her and to help her not just in big theological, theoretical ways—those were needed also—but just in practical ways. Here’s what you do as a new mom.

If have another friend who she and her husband had their first baby. This woman lost her mom when she was a teenager. This young woman is a godly young woman, she has a real heart for the Lord. But she has needed older women to come alongside her, and they have come alongside her to give her practical suggestions, input, and help. Here's a younger woman who is teachable, she's responsive, she's open-hearted.

As I look around this room I see younger women who have that kind of openness and hunger and are teachable as well.

The older women in the church need to get involved in training these new moms, these younger wives, how to live self-controlled, wise lives and what that looks like in every area of life, how to fulfill their duty to God and their husband and their children and others and how to juggle those things.

Can you remember back when you were at this season and it seemed so overwhelming? How many of you would have given a lot just to have some woman come alongside you and put her arm around you and encourage you and help you? Maybe you did have that.

We used to have more mothers and grandmothers who were around and had relationships and lived in the same area so that they could have those kinds of relationships. I know, Vivian, you have that with your mother and your sisters in the area. But a lot of women don’t have that today.

So as the Body of Christ, a community of faith, we need to come around these women and take them by the hand and encourage and instruct and help.

I think about so many of these younger women today who are in the child-bearing and child-rearing season of life. They are just exhausted. Life feels like one major constant pressure. That’s a difficult season of life.

Now every season of life has its challenges. But I don’t know any season of life that is more challenging in certain respects than this season of being a young wife and mother and trying to keep it all together.

It’s an easy time for bitterness to creep in and resentment, wrong thinking, depression, this whole thing of postpartum depression. I think one of the reasons for this is that younger women are feeling very on their own today. They’ve got all these children and all this responsibility and just need the encouragement and the infrastructure of the whole community of faith to come alongside of them.

Now they don’t need necessarily ten women in their lives, but they need a few who will come alongside and be helpful to them, help them keep their spiritual and emotional equilibrium.

I think—the Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I think—this is probably what happened when Mary of Nazareth found out that she was going to have a child. She’s probably fourteen years of age or thereabouts, a young teenager. This was not the way she had written the script, but it was the way God had written the script.

Remember what she did as soon as she got this word? Where did she go? She went to her older cousin Elizabeth’s home. Elizabeth was past the child-bearing years. She was menopausal, and she had just found out she was having a baby. This was supernatural. They were both supernatural pregnancies. But Mary went to Elizabeth's home and spent months there with this older woman. Now Scripture doesn’t tell us what they talked about.

But we do know that when Mary got to Elizabeth’s house that Elizabeth encouraged her. Elizabeth praised the Lord with Mary for the gift that God had given to her and God’s choice in her life.

What a blessing this must have been to Mary over those months as she was around this older woman who could mentor her, who could nurture her. Now Elizabeth didn’t have a lot of experience as a mother, but she had a lot of experience with the Lord, a lot of experience in life. She had learned to wait on the Lord, to trust the Lord.

I believe it was during this season that Elizabeth was investing in Mary’s life so that Mary could be prepared for the season of her life of being a wife and a mother.

There are so many areas where younger women need the input of older women. There’s a lot of false teaching out there today. You can walk in your Christian bookstore today and you can pick up books and you can pick up Christian women’s magazines that have erroneous thinking, teaching that is not rooted in the Scripture. Sometimes it’s not real clear that it’s wrong. That’s what makes it deceptive is that it looks good, but it’s not true.

Women are easily deceived and buying into the world’s philosophies that are so destructive. So the role of the older woman is to lovingly instruct and teach what is good, to teach God’s ways.

Now that kind of mentoring involves:

  • discipline. It’s not easy.
  • It requires the willingness to have an ongoing relationship.
  • It requires patience.
  • It requires the willingness to be honest as an older woman to open up your own life and to share out of your failures.
  • It takes time.

And much like child training, you seldom see dramatic results overnight. It’s not just, “Come take my six week class on how to be a woman of God.” It’s get next to them in life, come alongside of them. And that takes time.

It takes maybe on the phone or maybe together just life to life, maybe having them into your home just communicating from life to life. That takes time.

So what is the challenge here first of all to older women? God’s design for you is that you be intentional at this season of life about being involved, engaged in the lives of younger women around you, about bringing them to spiritual maturity.

Don’t look around and say, “Who’s teaching these women?” That’s a good question. You’re supposed to be doing this. Don't look at the young couple's pastor or the single's director. They may have a role there, but ask yourself, What is my role in these women's lives? Teach what is good. Train the young women.

This is not an option. This is what I’m trying to do day after day through means of Revive Our Hearts. But I not only do it through the radio program and the books I’m writing, I’m responsible as a woman who’s becoming an older woman to do this in the context of everyday life. I try to do that at church, on the telephone, throughout the week as I’m engaged with women in different seasons of life.

But you know what? It’s not just for women who have public ministries. This is what you are supposed to be doing.

And let me say, by the way, that every woman is an older woman to someone. You may be twenty-three, but you’re an older woman to a sixteen -year-old. So there’s some sense in which all of us should be engaged continually in the spiritual development of younger women.

Who are the younger women around you learning from? They are learning. Who’s training them? Who are their teachers? Is it their peers?

By the way, that is one of the dangers, in my opinion, of churches that become all the same age group of people. A lot of churches are oriented that way. We want to reach this particular segment so we just have people of that age.

That’s not a healthy church. Now it’s great to have peers who love the Lord and are encouraging you in your walk. But younger women need older women.

So who are they learning from? Is it just their peers? Is it Oprah? Is it Dr. Phil? Or is it you? Who is influencing their lives? That means as an older woman you need to have an available and approachable spirit. You need to be the kind of woman that these younger women would feel comfortable approaching, someone they can ask questions of.

But let me say this. If you’re an older woman, don’t wait for the younger women to come to you. Seek them out. Take initiative. Say, “How can I encourage you? How can I pray for you? What’s God doing in your life?” Ask questions; get engaged.

And then a word to the younger women. According to this passage you have a responsibility. And what is it? You’re supposed to be being trained, being trained not just by your peers but by older women.

I was with a group of younger women and had them in my home recently—late teens and early twenties. We were just sharing together and going around the room. They were telling about their spiritual journey. One of these women in her early twenties who has a heart for the Lord, a heart for ministry, said, "This setting has been so good for me. I'm so prone and our generation is so prone to think as younger people that we have all the answers and that we don't need the wisdom and input of older people. But I've realized I do need it. I need to learn. I need to listen. I need to be teachable."

If you are a younger woman, ask yourself, "Do I have a humble spirit? Do I have a teachable spirit?"

And younger women—and by the way I hear this in the churches—“the older women won’t get involved in our lives.”

And I hear the older women say, “The younger women don’t want us involved in their lives.”

So here’s a solution to that. Don’t wait for the other to come to you. You take the initiative. If you’re a younger woman take the initiative. Find an older woman.

Say, “I’ve been watching your life, and I see your relationship with the Lord. I see that you have a marriage that has held together, and you have children who walk with the Lord. That’s the kind of testimony I want to have someday. Could you encourage me? Could you pray for me? I have some questions.”

Every woman should either be training or being trained or better yet, both.

So how do you get started? Well say, “Yes, Lord.” Just say, whatever season of life you’re in, “Lord, yes. I will do this. I’m committed to being engaged in this training process. I’m available. Use me.”

Older women ask God to put one or more younger women in your path that you can begin to influence intentionally. Don’t try to figure out how you can change the whole generation of younger women. Just ask God for one or two or three. Just ask Him to make you sensitive as you’re around these younger women as to how you can intentionally impact their lives.

And younger women, ask the Lord to direct you to one or more older women. And start asking them questions. “Did you ever struggle with . . .?” whatever it is. “How did you handle this when you were my age? Would you pray for me?”

Now if you need a track to run on in this mentoring sort of relationship, you may want to read and study a book together. One I highly recommend is written by my friend Carolyn Mahaney, and it’s called Feminine Appeal. It’s actually a study of the seven character qualities in the book of Titus chapter 2 that we’re going to be looking at over these next several sessions. 

Then also I highly recommend that your church or your group consider a mentoring course called “Apples of Gold” that has been developed by another friend of mine Betty Huizenga. This is a simple six-week course that is ideal for use in the local church.

It’s not just one woman who’s older to one younger woman. It’s a group of older women with a group of younger women, and it takes place in the context of a home and around having meals together. It’s just teaching some practical life skills. It’s one week in each of the qualities from Titus chapter 2. And we also have a CD of an interview that we did on Revive Our Hearts with Betty Huizenga and some of the women who’ve been through this program.

But let me say that mentoring, older women training younger women, is not primarily a program. It’s not primarily formal or public teaching or instruction. Most of you if you think of it that way you’re going to be so intimidated that you’re never going to do it.

It’s really just giving friendship, counsel, encouragement, exhortation by your example, by your words, one on one in the context of everyday life.

How do you train your children?

  • You’re there.
  • You’re with them.
  • You observe.
  • You walk with them through life.
  • You deal with issues as they arise.
  • You look for teachable moments.

We train younger women in much the same way. Not that they’re children, but it’s similar in the sense that it takes place in the context of everyday life.

Now in the next session we’ll talk with some women about some of the reasons why we don’t have more of these kinds of mentoring relationships taking place between older and younger women. And we’re going to talk about what we can do about that and how we can see this kind of ministry really start to take place in the context of the local church.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us what could happen in the body of Christ if women engaged in serving and teaching other women. This is something all of us can be involved in, not just women with “Ministry” in their job title. Nancy, thanks for encouraging all of us to invest in others.

Nancy: It really is such a privilege, a joy, not just a responsibility but a great opportunity to invest in the lives of others. You're right, we all can be involved in mentoring, discipling, encouraging women in various ways, no matter whether we have an official or formal role in the church. So if you have a heart for that kind of ministry, I hope you’ll consider joining us for a conference we'll be hosting in the fall called Revive '17: Women Mentoring Women the Titus 2 Way.

Imagine being surrounded by thousands of women all wanting to grow in the qualities, the characteristics we’ve been studying in this series on Titus 2. Imagine being encouraged by them and being an encourager to them.

Topics in this conference will roughly follow the chapters of my new book Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. So speakers like Blair Linne, Mary Kassian, Susan Hunt, Dannah Gresh, and others will be joining me to address these practical topics. We’ll explore together how to live out the beauty of the gospel and how to encourage the women around us to experience that beauty as well.

Revive '17 is coming to Indianapolis, September 29–30. You can still get in on the early registration price, so get the details by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today we looked at the value of women mentoring women. But there are some barriers that can keep us women from connecting with each other. We’ll address those tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1Handbook on Paul's Letter to Titus.

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