Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Imperfect People Can be Powerful Mentors

Leslie Basham: When you feel like you've failed, you've just gotten experience to share with someone else. Here's Susan Hunt.

Susan Hunt: In God's economy nothing is wasted, and we need to say that to women over and over and over. Take that experience; hold it up before the Lord as your sacrifice unto Him, and watch Him take it and teach you through it and shape you into Himself and enable you to minister to another woman who perhaps is going through that very situation.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, May 8, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We are making this Mother’s Day week here on Revive Our Hearts. We’ve been listening to a conversation I recorded a few years ago with my long-time friend, Susan Hunt. Susan's written many books including one called Spiritual Mothering, and we’ve been talking about how we all can invest in the generations that follow us. We also wanted to bring you this conversation with Susan because another one of her books has just been re-released. It's called The True Woman: The Beauty and Strength of a Godly Woman. It's an important book; it's hot off the press, and we are thrilled to let you know about that this week.

Susan has been talking about biblical womanhood for a long time. And I’m so grateful Revive Our Hearts has been able to join her in believing God for a movement of women who want to be true women of God. This week when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we want to say "thank you" by sending you Susan's book, The True Woman. Just visit, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

As we pick up on this topic of spiritual mothering, a key biblical passage is found in the book of Titus. Susan’s going to unpack that for us.

Susan: In Paul's letter to Titus, he tells the young preacher how to have a healthy church. And when we come to chapter 2 of this letter he's really talking about discipleship. He begins that chapter with a statement to Titus, "Teach what accords with sound doctrine." And then he tells them how that within the life of the congregation older men are to be training younger men.

And then we come to verse 3 and he says,

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

So I began calling this "spiritual mothering" because it's a nurturing ministry. The word "train" means "to show, to model" as well as to communicate the information.

Nancy: So this isn't necessarily a woman who's a teacher of a large Bible class or a small group leader. She may be. But this is really for every woman regardless of whether she has those kinds of teaching skills.

Susan: As I look at this, it is a gospel imperative that is for all of us. This is what our Savior tells us to do in His Church.

Nancy: Okay. I want to just not run past that. This is not just for Susan Hunt or Nancy Wolgemuth or the women's ministry leader in their local church. Every woman listening to us have this conversation fits somehow as an older woman or younger woman or both, in this mandate from Titus 2.

So that, I think, leads us to ask the question, "Who, if you're an older woman, who is a younger woman in your life that you're encouraging and affirming and helping her grow in her relationship with the Lord?" If you don't have one, you need to get one, right?

Susan: Yes. Yes. And we can look around us. And I really believe, Nancy, that it does not just refer just to chronological age. That definitely is a factor. But it also refers to spiritual maturity.

Nancy: Right.

Susan: And so there are women who have had life experiences and they may be younger than a woman who is then going through that life experience and so they can disciple her through that.

That's the way it works. I met a young woman at Panera recently that I had met at a conference. We met for lunch. I was so taken with her maturity in Christ, and she's in her twenties. As I listened to her and as she told me her story, a very difficult story, a very difficult background. But it was a story radically transformed by the gospel, I was the one who was learning from her.

I was learning what it means to have the power of the gospel come into your life in such a radical way and to transform you so quickly, because hers really has been such a quick transformation. So there's a seventy-six-year-old learning from a twenty-four-year-old.

But that's the way this works. It is so big and so fluid and so beautiful and so bold that we don't just have to find someone who is twenty years older.

Nancy: But the point is that we need to have those multi-generational, inter-generational relationships where we're imparting life or encouraging; we're getting perspective; we're modeling biblical graces; we're teaching what is good, as Titus says.

Now, one of the questions that comes to my mind as I have labored in this text for many years. It talks first to the older women. Before their job description, it gives them kind of the qualities of life that they're to model that they're to manifest.

It says that they're to be reverent in behavior. They're not to be slanderers, the use of their tongue. They're not to be slaves to much wine, which I think more broadly speaks to the whole area of self-control and not being in bondage to any sort of substance. And then they're to teach what is good.

Well, we have older women in our churches today who maybe haven't known the Lord that long or maybe they've not been well discipled themselves. They're saying, "I couldn't invest in younger women. I couldn't be a spiritual mother. I've blown it. My marriage didn't do well. How can I teach a younger woman to love her husband? My children are prodigals. How can I teach a younger woman to love her children? These things that are said here that are the curriculum, I have failed. I have blown it. How can I do this?" What do you say to that woman?

Susan: What I would say, but more importantly what I would hope that the women's ministries in our local churches are saying to the women in their churches is, we must not look at the experiences in our lives as failures but look at them redemptively. We must see how that God takes what our enemy would tell us to be failures and God uses that redemptively by teaching us more of Himself through that experience, by bringing an element of maturity into our lives as we went through that painful experience, that we can now use to disciple others.

In God's economy nothing is wasted, and we need to say that to women over and over and over. Take that experience; hold it up before the Lord as your sacrifice unto Him, and watch Him take it and teach you through it and shape you into Himself and enable you to minister to another woman who perhaps is going through that very situation.

Nancy: But that means that you have to be willing to open up your life and be transparent and to share out of those experiences.

Susan: Yes. But I think that's a matter of stewardship that we need to also teach women to be good stewards of every situation and relationship God brings into their lives. We need to steward it well by learning to see the redemptive impact of it. How did I grow through that? How did I learn more of the triune God through that experience? And then it becomes something that we can use to help others.

Remember when Mary and Joseph went into the temple after the birth of Jesus that Simeon said to Mary, "And a sword will pierce your own soul, too." Those are startling words to a young mom. "A sword in your soul."

Now, immediately God had an older woman there in that temple, Anna, who came along side. And what did Anna do? She began speaking to Mary about redemption. In my mind, what I see her doing is taking the face of Mary and saying, "Mary, don't look at the sword. Look at what God is going to do with that sword in your soul. That sword in your soul is going to have redemptive impact for God's people. That sword in your soul will be used by the Lord God. Look at redemption. Look at the bigger story, not at the sword."

And that's what we need to do with women. And who better to do that than a woman who's had a sword in her soul.

Nancy: But you have to be willing to share out of that experience.

Susan: You do. You've got to do this.

Nancy: So I think of these younger women looking at these older women like, "They couldn't possibly relate to what I'm going through. They never yelled at their kids. They never had an eating disorder. They never had an abortion. They never had a husband run off and be unfaithful to them."

But some of those women have had exactly those experiences or similar ones. Think of the barriers that could come down and the grace that could flow if some of those older women could come along side and say, "You know what? I've been there. I know exactly what you're going through."

They can say that in a way that maybe you can't or I can't or somebody else can't, maybe their pastor can't. But that older women who's got some life experience, she can say, "Look, here's how I handled this. But I have some regrets about that. Let me tell you what God did in my life, what He taught me about forgiveness, about how He could redeem what the enemy meant for evil and turn it into something good."

Imagine what an encouragement that can be for that woman to share honestly out of her life. I think sometimes for some of the older generation there's a fear or a hesitance, a reluctance to be transparent about their own life circumstances. But those really can be what connects you to those younger women.

Susan: I think they're hesitant perhaps because we have not made it safe for them to do so simply by telling them that it is safe for them to do so.

Nancy: Right.

Susan: But again, this is where I think that the women's ministry in the local church must step up. At one of the True Woman conferences in a seminar that you had me do on spiritual mothering, a woman went to the microphone in the Q and A session and she said, "Six months ago I asked an older woman in my church if she would mentor me. And she immediately agreed. But it has been six months, and I have not heard from her since." And there was a gasp in the room. And she said, "I am just devastated. What do I do now?"

As I thought about it, I could think about it from an older woman perspective. I said to her, "I am so sorry that happened to you. I can feel how desperate you feel. But let me tell you what I think possibly what that older woman is feeling. She readily agreed because in her heart of hearts she really wanted to do this. You have woken up every morning thinking, Why doesn't she call me? She has woken up every morning thinking, Now, what do I do? I'm scared to death of this. I have no idea what to do. So she puts it off another day. And every day she is more and more guilty.

I have to say into that situation, "Step up church. Step up women's ministries. This is where we must not only call women out and tell them they must be doing this, but we must equip them. We must support them in it. We must match them up. Help them find each other so that none of that is going on in our churches."

But I am convinced that those older women simply need to be encouraged and equipped for this ministry.

Nancy: And to realize that this is not rocket science. Motherhood. When God gives a mother a baby, there's something that God puts in her that's instinctive. Yes, there's learning needed. Yes, there's growth needed. But she knows how to hold that baby. She knows how to feed it. She learns quickly. And then she has her mother or her grandmother or other women friends who help her with that.

It's not rocket science. Yes, there are challenges. But she does things . . . My mother had six children in her first five years of marriage by the time she was twenty-four years old. Now, what had possibly equipped her for that? Nothing. But God did. God gave her what she needed. God gave her grace to do that.

Well, as you step into spiritual mothering, you think, This is terrifying. How can I possibly do this? But you step into it with a willing heart and a praying heart. Say, "Lord show me how."

And then in the context of the church where, wouldn't it be beautiful if every church had this, a women's ministry has this rhythm, this is the way of life, this is what is encouraged.

You realize by God's grace, I can do this. I can learn. I can grow. I will make mistakes. I'll come into situations that I don't know how to handle. But then we'll be there together to help each other grow through this.

Susan: One of the things I try to tell older women is, "Don't be afraid of this by thinking you have to have an answer to every young woman's problem. Actually, it's better not to give her the solutions because that may simply be your personal preferences. But what we can do is say, "I don't have a clue, but let's pray." We can do that. And then two basic questions . . .

Nancy: Wait, before you move on past that, I want to hear those two questions. But when you pray, just remember we're taking that person we're praying with or for to the throne of grace. That's what they need.

Susan: Of sufficient grace.

Nancy: They need sufficient grace moment by moment. They need tailor-made grace. We're taking them to a throne that has all of God's omnipotence on that throne. So it's no small thing to just say, "Let me pray for you. Let me pray with you."

Susan: No. It's the biggest thing. It is the best thing. It is teaching her not just to look to man but to look to the Savior.

And then two questions that we can always ask them and help them work through:

  1. What will it mean to bring this situation or this relationship under the authority of God's Word?
    Search out the Scriptures and see what God says about this.
  2. What will it mean to glorify God in this situation or relationship?
    Then that takes the focus off of what I want to happen for my convenience and my happiness.

Nancy: How this affects me.

Susan: Yes. How can I glorify God in this situation?

Nancy: That's a life changer.

Susan: It is a life changer.

Nancy: Whether you're old or young, looking at any situation in life from that perspective is a whole different set of glasses isn't it?

Susan: It is. So if older women know that, then we're ready to begin moving.

Nancy: Those two questions. How can I bring this under the Word of God?

Susan: The authority of God's Word. Because God's Word is our authority.

Nancy: So what does the Scripture have to say about this? You say, "I don't know."

Susan: Start reading and let God speak to us.

Nancy: Right.

Susan: We just start looking. And then how can I glorify God in this situation?

Nancy: Okay. Speak to that younger woman, like maybe the woman who came to the mic. She's hungry. I think a lot of younger women maybe who haven't been mothered at all themselves just from a natural standpoint. There is so much family breakup, family hurt, family pain, and they're longing for this kind of spiritual mothering relationship maybe just in practical ways to help them grow in their faith, to help them thrive in this season of life where God has them—single woman, young wife, young mom, college student. But they don't know those older women.

They don't know how to go across that gap between the older women in the church and the younger women—all their peers that they're spending their time with. How do they get started? How do they find that kind of relationship?

Susan: I don't think we can promise them that they can find it. What we can challenge them to do is first of all to realize that the women in Scripture can be spiritual mothers to them and then godly women who have written books—your books, Nancy—spiritually mother women all over the globe. Books from the past. Books from the present.

But the third thing that we can do is those young women can be sure that that does not happen to women behind them. They can even now begin to think in terms of being spiritual mothers maybe to a teenager.

Then trust God to bring those older women into their lives. They may be in situations in churches where there are no older women. Many of our churches now simply do not have any older women there. They may be on a college campus. Whatever it is.

If they can't immediately find older women, then start being an older woman. Start investing in the lives of the girls around you. I challenge our granddaughters, even the youngest ones, the fourteen year olds, be a spiritual mother to your younger cousin, because they need to have this as a way of life that they can live out.

Nancy: Make this a matter of prayer. Ask the Lord. Say, "I feel like I need this in my life." And God has said this is a good thing. So ask Him for it. I think a lot of times there may be potential there that just isn't being recognized and isn't being tapped into. Maybe you haven't even noticed the older women in your church.

Or maybe they're not some great . . . they don't have a halo over their heads . . . and maybe you're thinking they don't have a lot to offer. Listen, if they've lived longer and had some life experiences that you haven't had, maybe your initiating a conversation with them will help them step up in a way that they've never imagined they could and didn't know they could.

Ask questions. This is one thing that I learned to do as a very young woman, and I'm doing it today as an interviewer in my job. I'm asking questions. I love getting around you, Susan, and asking questions and having you show me what you've learned about this and what God has taught you about this. I'm learning from you. You're mentoring me as we're having this conversation.

In my church there are older women. And many times they're kind of invisible. Not to God. But to those of us who have busy lives, and they're kind of in the margins, kind of in the shadows. Ask God to direct you to a woman who maybe needs the encouragement that you bring as a younger woman saying, "Would you pray for me? Asking questions? What has the Lord shown you about this?"

In fact, we have on our website (we'll link to it as we air this series) a blog post from the True Woman blog about a hundred questions to ask older women that you want to develop a relationship with. Now, don't ask all hundred at once! But they're just conversation starters, and maybe that would be helpful.

But the point is, don't just languish spiritually. Ask the Lord to show you where your place is as an older woman, as a younger woman. Then take some initiative. You don't have to start a program. God may lead you to help develop a women's ministry program in your church, and if so, Susan Hunt has a ton of resources available and we've linked some of those resources on our website.

But get started. It's a way of life. It's a rhythm. And in that rhythm of older and younger linking their hearts and hands together, you will find there is grace, there is growth, there is beauty, and the gospel will be adorned.

Leslie: As we head into this weekend, I hope you are thinking of ways you can honor your mom or other women who have had a significant role in your life. I also hope that as you've been listening to this conversation, you've been encouraged to become a spiritual mom to other women around you.

At Revive Our Hearts, we are all about investing in women of all ages. And we are particularly focused on how we can mentor and train women of the next generation. That’s why I’m so grateful to look back over the last year and see some of the rich opportunities God has given to serve women. For example, we launched a new podcast called Women of the Bible. This has been a great resource to connect some of the younger women to the timeless truths of God’s Word. We also hosted the True Woman '18 conference last fall and held our first Revive Our Hearts conference in South Africa. What a rich opportunity that was to connect with women in the African who are hungry and eager for the truth from God's Word. 

All this ministry and so much more was made possible thanks to you—and other listeners like you—who see God at work through Revive Our Hearts and want to join Him in this mission.

Here during the month of May we’re looking back at our fiscal year, thanking God for all that He’s allowed us to do, and we’re also making plans for coming year. That includes hosting the Revive '19 conference in September. And we’ll connect with women in gatherings all over the world as they engage in the Revive '19 online experience. We’re also working on two more seasons of the Women of the Bible podcast along with companion Bible study resources. And what God is doing on the international front is just exploding. We want to do all we can to serve women around the world by providing resources in other languages that will help them spread the message of revival and biblical womanhood. And that's just a sampling. 

Now, we can’t do any of this without a whole team working together. That includes those on our staff who do the work and those who give. Would you consider being one who gives? This is why I’m asking right now. In order to end this fiscal year, May 31, in a stable position and get ready for a new season of ministry, we’re asking the Lord to provide at least $775,000 this month.

Now, that's a large amount, and you may think that whatever you can do isn't all that significant. But every little bit helps. As we join together in praying and giving, we're trusting that God will meet the entire need.

When you do give, we’d like to thank you for your part in this ministry by sending you Susan Hunt's book called The True Woman: The Beauty and Strength of a Godly Woman. This updated and re-released version is hot off the press, and we are making it available to our listeners this week. It will help you explore what the Bible has to say about our distinct calling as women, and it will help you live out those truths in beautiful ways.

When you donate online, you’ll find a place to let us know you’d like Susan's book, The True Woman, or ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959. Thanks for your important part in helping this ministry share the truth of God's Word with the women around the world. 

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Susan Hunt has been involved with women’s ministry in the local church for a long time, and she wants to invest in other women so that the work can carry on without her.

Susan: We want this ministry to be such that if we drop dead, the ministry will not hiccup. The principles are still there. They’re not dependent upon us to keep it going.

Leslie: More from Susan tomorrow, here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is equipping you for one-on-one ministry. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teachers

Susan Hunt

Susan Hunt

Susan Hunt is the widow of Gene Hunt, the mother of three and grandmother of thirteen, and former Coordinator of Women’s Ministry for the Presbyterian Church in America. She has written several books for women, including Life-Giving Leadership co-authored with Karen Hodge, and Aging with Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture, co-authored with Sharon Betters. She loves time with her family, sitting on her porch with younger women, and tending the flowers her grandsons help her plant in her yard.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.