Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s in Charge of Your Ministry

Leslie Basham: When you launch into a new ministry initiative, it’s important to remember why you’re doing it. Here’s Susan Hunt.

Susan Hunt: What is my purpose? Is my purpose to promote women? To promote myself? Or is my purpose to promote God’s glory? If my purpose is to promote God’s glory, then I will do it God’s way.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Friday, May 10, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: All this week we’ve been getting to know a faithful woman. She’s a faithful wife and mother and grandmother. And she’s been investing in women’s ministry leaders for years and years. And she’s continued serving the Lord even as she’s gotten older and her body has slowed down. She still has a passion to see women know the Jesus and to point others to Him. 

Our guest is my long-time friend, Susan Hunt, and I’m so glad that two of her classic books are getting the attention they deserve. One is called Spiritual Mothering. On this day before Mother’s Day weekend, we’re going to talk with Susan about that topic. But Susan has written another book called The True Woman: The Beauty and Strength of a Godly Woman. She first wrote it some twenty years ago, but now it has been updated, and Crossway Publishers are re-releasing this month for a new generation of readers.

Susan asked if I would write the forward for this new version, which I was delighted to do. Let me share just a snippet of what I said there:

The insights and passion that Susan shares in this book, The True Woman, will deepen your understanding of God's calling on your life and will fuel your desire to let Him fulfill that calling in and through you. If you will ponder and savor the picture Susan has laid out from God's Word, I believe you will find it to be ravishing and powerful.

Well, that is the way I feel, and we want to get it into your hands. We’ll be glad to send you this hot-off-the-press, new version of Susan's book, The True Woman as our way of saying "thank you" when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts. You can do that by calling us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation. And when you do, be sure to let us know that you'd like a copy of Susan's book, The True Woman.

Let’s get back to our conversation with Susan Hunt who has had such a significant influence on my own life and countless other women as well.

Susan: Every generation needs this. It is a biblical principle, and it’s always relevant. But I do think that we live in such a toxic environment when it comes to gender issues that it is just heightened.

It’s amazing to me that some are saying women’s ministries are irrelevant at a time such as we live in. This was underscored for me when a young woman came up to me at a conference and said, “How can I think biblically about my womanhood when I’m constantly being told that independence is power, to determine my destiny and pursue my dreams, and that gender distinctiveness is a social construct?” That was a loaded question.

Nancy: That is the chief language of our era.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: I’m so glad you added an appendix to this more recent, re-release of this book, addressing this whole issue of gender issues and gender distinctiveness. Was it that conversation, or something like it that made you think this was important to add in?

Susan: Yes. That as well as a conversation with one of our college-age grandsons when I asked him what issue of faith and life did he think was most under attack for Christians and that young people, young Christian people were most tempted to compromise. Without hesitation he said, “Sexuality.”

So those two conversations made me realize we need to speak into this. We do not need to be silent.

Nancy: And it’s not just out in the world that people are confused.

Susan: No.

Nancy: We expect the people who don’t know Christ, who don’t know the Word, don’t know the gospel, to not be able to think biblically. But within the church, don’t you see an erosion of biblical understanding, of male/female gender, sexuality?

Susan: Most definitely. And many times, what happens is we just don’t talk about it. In our silence, what we are doing is leaving the next generation to only hear the voices of the world. So, by default, that’s what they’re hearing, and that’s what they’re embracing. And then what happens is, without even realizing it, there is a disconnect between their theology and their application of faith into their sexuality. We need to speak into that.

Nancy: In this appendix on “Helper by Design,” you talk about some foundational principles. Can we just walk through those? Because if you’re missing the foundation, the whole building, the house, the structure, it’s not going to stand. So these foundational principles that used to be, I think twenty-five years ago, if we’d said these things, everybody in the church would have nodded their heads and said, “Of course.” But now, they can’t be assumed. These things can be taken for granted.

The first principle is that God’s Word is our authority on everything. Why is it so important to say that today?

Susan: If we don’t start there, then who knows where we will go. But we’ve got to start with declaring that God’s Word is my authority; therefore, whatever He says, I’m going to trust it. I’m going to obey it, even when it comes to His design of me as a woman. So we’ve got to have that in place first.

Nancy: And then the second foundational principle, that God’s glory is our purpose.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: Why is that so important?

Susan: Well, again, that’s going to set our direction. If God’s glory is my purpose, then whatever He says is what I want to do because that’s my mission, to glorify Him. It really does simplify life because I’m not having to make it up as I go along. I just have to determine what is it that will glorify God? And what will glorify God is for me to obey the authority of His Word.

Nancy: I think sometimes we need to realize that, many times, God’s Word, God’s ways, and what brings Him glory are counter-intuitive. They’re not politically correct. They swim upstream. You can’t expect God’s way to be swimming along the same direction as the culture.

So in order to embrace God’s Word, God’s ways, and God’s glory, we have to be willing to swim against the tide, to go against the tide. I think that’s becoming increasingly difficult.

Susan: It is difficult. It is radical to live biblically, but it is so beautiful to live biblically. It is bold to live biblically. Latching on to those first two foundational principles is absolutely essential to a biblical world-in-life view, to living out the gospel in life.

Nancy: So we take those two foundational principles: God’s Word and God’s glory, and we say, “How does this apply to us as women (or men)?” And the third foundational principle is the one under such attack today. I guess they’re all under attack, but this third one is, really. People look at you like, “What planet did you come from?” when you talk this way, because you say, “Gender distinctiveness is God’s good plan.”

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: Help us unpack that.

Susan: God did not create a genderless being. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26–27). So the man and woman were created equally in God’s image, but with distinctiveness: male and female, with different functions—different design and different functions.

Now, to really grasp that, we’ve got to go back to prior to that, to what we learned about the Trinity in eternity past.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit lived in perfect relationship and perfect unity and perfect harmony. But as we see in Ephesians 1, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each assumes a different function in the accomplishment of our redemption. The Father chose us in Christ. Christ died for our sins; He is our Redeemer. And the Holy Spirit seals that redemption to our hearts. He applies it to our hearts.

So we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit having the same ultimate purpose, to praise His glorious grace, that phrase is repeated over and over in Ephesians. To put His glory on display is the objective, but each Person of the Trinity assumes a different, equally valuable function.

There’s no competition. The Father doesn’t say, “Well, I want to die on the cross so I’ll be as important as the Son.” No. They’re equally valuable functions but with one consuming passion: to display His glory.

So it’s only logical that when He creates humankind, there would be this diversity of function, but this unity of a desire to glorify God—the unity of purpose but distinctiveness of function.

Nancy: Now, there are some who would say today—many who would say today that when you talk about different functions for men and women . . . Before I say that, let’s just unpack what we’re talking about in terms of different functions.

Men and women equally come to the cross, equally come to Christ in salvation, are equally valuable to God, not one more valuable than the other. But when we talk about different roles and functions, what are we talking about?

Susan: What we need to remember here is that these functions are equally valuable. There are many things that men and women do that there is no gender distinctiveness. So we’ve got to be clear about that.

Nancy: So where does the distinctiveness get applied?

Susan: I’m not even sure we can say exactly where it’s applied. I think it’s more of an attitude of a submission to the idea that men and women are different. And then the complementarity of the idea that together we put God’s glory on display. This does not mean that anyone has to be married to put God’s glory on display, but it means that the bringing together of our distinctiveness, of our strengths, that’s when then we are able to glorify God—whether it is in marriage or whether it’s in the church, the way men and women work together, serve together in the church.

Many times men and women are doing the same thing, but we will bring our distinctiveness to that. We will bring our femaleness and our maleness to that task, or whatever it is we are doing.

So we want to be careful that we don’t label this as certain behaviors, that we do not put womanhood and manhood into a box. But rather, that we see that there is distinctiveness and that there is complementarity of that distinctiveness so that there is unity in our diversity.

Nancy: So beautifully said Susan, and one of the areas of distinctiveness, then, as we get to the local church, for example, is that God has given to men the responsibility to provide spiritual oversight, spiritual authority, leading and feeding of the local congregation of that spiritual flock, that spiritual family.

But that’s a concept that has fallen into hard times today where people are saying, “But that’s not fair. Women are as smart as men. Some women are better Bible teachers or better pastors or could be better at leading the church, or whatever, than men.” This concept of male leadership in the context of the local church is really misunderstood, and people have a hard time, I think, accepting that today.

Susan: And that’s where we have to go back to: What is my purpose? Is my purpose to promote women? To promote myself? Or is my purpose to promote God’s glory? If my purpose is to promote God’s glory, then I will do it God’s way.

I do think we’ve got to be very careful that we understand that in doing it God’s way, we are putting on display some aspects of the Trinity. It goes back to the very nature of God. That’s what this is grounded in. So a genderless being and genderless ministry would not be able to do that. That’s why this is so important, because it has to do with the very nature of God.

So it continually drives us back to: Is my purpose God’s glory?

It is interesting to notice in Genesis that after God, in Genesis 2, gives us His calling for manhood, He says, “But it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (v. 18).

Here we begin to see God’s female design, and we see that He did not say that man was not good, but man’s aloneness was not good. His aloneness was not good because God was not alone. The Godhead exists in relationship.

So I think that all helps us to see the wonder and the beauty of this, and that we get to reflect that aspect of God.

Nancy: So talk about the woman, then, as a helper—the vital part of her design. What does that mean? What does that look like?

Susan: Well, at first, years ago, when I first began looking at that, I was a bit put off by that whole notion because of our concept of what a helper is.

But then I began studying the word azur and seeing that throughout the Old Testament, that word is most often used to refer to God as our Helper. As I began to look at how God helps us, then this concept just exploded in my heart and mind, that this is what we’re designed to bring into relationships. It is just an exquisite design.

Let’s just think of a few of the verses that speak of God as our Helper.

In Psalm 33, we read, “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield” (v. 20). So here we see God defending us.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). He is our refuge. A helper is a refuge.

“Behold, God is the helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life” (Ps. 54:4). So a helper upholds.

Doesn’t that bring beautiful pictures into your heart and mind?

“But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer” (Ps. 70:5). He delivers the poor and the needy. And down through history, women have been at the forefront of ministries to the poor and to the needy, the practical hands-on kind of ministry that, because of our design, we are drawn to.

“Lord, you have helped me and comforted me” (Ps. 86:17). Who does a child want to run to when they skin their knee? It’s the mother who comforts.

And so all through here we see these nurturing words that equip us to be mothers, not only biologically, but they equip us, this design equips us to be spiritual mothers. It equips us to bring something into the mix that will be greatly noticed as being absent if women do not play out our function and if we’re trying to be what men are called and designed to be.

Nancy: Which doesn’t mean men don’t comfort; they don’t help; they don’t uphold; they don’t defend.

Susan: Oh, exactly. Yes, but there is a dimension that is very female.

Nancy: Well, you have done such a beautiful job, not only in this conversation, but through your books, your teaching, your influence—in my life—of helping us to see that God’s plan, God’s design is good. It is beautiful. It is—what did you say?—exquisite.

Susan: It is exquisite.

Nancy: I love that word. I smile listening to you, Susan. You make me so thankful to be a woman, and you make me also want to be God’s kind of woman, realizing that, as male and female, in complementary ways, as we live out God’s design for our lives, that there is the display of God’s glory, that this is how God’s kingdom is furthered, is advanced.

The gospel is what’s at stake here. This is not a secondary thing. This is something that is core to God’s name being hallowed, His kingdom coming, His will being done on earth as it is in heaven, is to have spirit-filled, Christ-centered, biblically-grounded men and women who serve the Lord together in distinctive, complementary ways.

Thank you for helping paint that picture, for doing it as a woman yourself. And thank you for being a part of Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman Movement. I don’t know, really, any older woman who has done more than you have to be a cheerleader for me, for this ministry, for this movement.

I’d just like to give you a chance to say, as you’ve watched the True Woman Movement develop and mature—you were at our first True Woman conference in 2008, you’ve been at many, if not all subsequently. From your perspective, what have you seen, what’s encouraging to you, and what would you like to say to the True Woman Movement?

Susan: Oh, Nancy, I think back to that very first conference. From the time I first heard about it, I knew that you were committed to the idea of complementarianism, that you had embraced that, and that you wanted to promote that and the whole idea of gender distinctiveness and the concept of the true woman.

Going to that first conference and listening and watching and seeing all of those women who came, it was this unbelievable moment to me as I watched things that I had prayed for for years and years actually happening. I watched my prayers being answered, and I’ve watched that over the years as this movement has grown, as it has spread to all parts of the globe.

Every time I go, every time I watch and I hear, I see what God is doing. It’s more than anybody could have done. It is immeasurably more than all we could have asked or imagined. I just continually have to sit before my Savior and say, “Thank You, thank You for what You are doing, what You have done, what You will do through this ministry of the True Woman.

Nancy: Well, you have been very faithful at holding and carrying the baton in your generation and now in passing it on to the next generation. And that’s inspired me to want to do the same. The Lord knows who are the younger women coming behind us who will be carrying that baton in the days ahead, and all for the glory of God, for the display of His grace, that His ways may be known among all the nations. That’s what we live for. That’s what we long for.

Susan: Yes, it is.

Nancy: I hope when I'm in my late seventies that I will have the energy and passion to do the Lord's work that we've heard expressed from Susan Hunt. Susan's been talking to us about the value of women vesting in the lives of other women. She calls it spiritual mothering. I love that term.

As we enter Mother's Day weekend, I hope you'll ask, "Who's a younger woman I could invest in?

Leslie: And Nancy, we wanted to play an illustration of some of the principles we’ve been hearing about this week from you and Susan Hunt. You probably remember this, but not too long ago, a listener visited our headquarters where you were teaching. And she showed how important it is that we all engage in spiritual mothering like Susan Hunt has described. 

Melissa: Well hello, Mother. That is what I’ll say to you. I wasn't sure if I was going to share today, because I think I'm kind of awestruck to be here. It's a really unique circumstance because when I say, "Hello, Mother," I'm sitting next to my biological mother here. I brought her here to meet you.

I think as a woman who married a man who could not give me children, and God gave me a peace knowing that my quiver is full. I am a spiritual mother as a preschool teacher, neighbor; I have nieces and nephews. I have heard it said that, "You don't have credibility. Surely you can't have credibility, you haven't had your own children." I think about my experience with you. And the Lord's Word is enough. My motherhood has done just fine.

I've sent you some Mother's Day cards and things because you deserve that honor. But I wanted to give you a taste of the story of what you've done.

I've known you for eight years now. I got saved at twenty-two and I'm thirty this year. I came from a background that was a very dark life. Mom comes from the sin of generational neglect and abuse, you name it, addiction. There was just nothing to bridge the gap. We were caught in this all the time—my mother and I.

She's currently living with me, and she's getting fed. It's a role reversal, but God is doing magnificient things with that. And I'm learning from my mother as she is walking out of darkness and lies. But it was first because God used this ministry to speak into the lies that were entangled in my heart and mind.

I plan on writing you to let you know the full story one day. I'm writing a book one day about all the God has done. And my mother will be in that. So Nancy, I just want to thank you.

Nancy: Well that sweet friend, Melissa, was talking to me, but truly it is a team effort that brings you Revive Our Hearts each day. I'm so thankful for those amazing men and women that I get to serve alongside of day after day.

And as a team, we have a big challenge this month. In order to continue speaking to women just like Melissa, we’re asking the Lord to meet some significant fiscal year-end needs. Our accounting system runs May to May, so we are closing out one fiscal year and starting another. We need to wrap up the year in a strong position so that we can be ready for continued ministry to Melissa and so many women like her. To do that without interrupting or cutting back on our various outreaches, we need to receive at least $775,000 in listener donations here in May. Would you ask the Lord how you can get involved in meeting this need?

When you send a gift of any amount, we want to say "thank you" for your investment in this ministry by sending Susan Hunt’s book, The True Woman. It’s just been updated and re-released, and it will take you to God’s Word to discover your design and calling as a woman. You can make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959 and ask for the book The True Woman.

If you are a woman listening today, I want to wish you a very happy Mother's Day. You may or may not have children of your own, but every one of us can have spiritual children as we're investing in the lives of other women around us.

I can't end this program without saying how deeply grateful I am for my own mom, Nancy DeMoss. That's Nancy DeMoss the first. My mom turns eighty-one later this month, and what a huge gift to me and my brothers and sisters over all the years. My husband and I are so grateful for her continued prayers and encouragement and for all that she means to us and our family and to so many others in this season of her life. So Happy Mother's Day to you my dear mother.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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