Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Investing in the Next Generation

Leslie Basham: Susan Hunt remembers showing up to a new church as a pastor's wife. She discovered at least one real strength of this church.

Susan Hunt: There were women in their sixties, seventies, and eighties whose lives just captivated my heart. I watched as they loved me and as they loved the younger women coming into the church. They were not threatened by the younger women. At the same time, they were so eager to learn God's Word.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Monday, May 6, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: A True Woman Movement—if you’ve listened to Revive Our Hearts for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve heard us talk about that phrase. We’ve been promoting that concept for over ten years. But before that, one early champion of the idea was Susan Hunt. She wrote a classic book called The True Woman.

I'm excited to let you know that, that book is being re-released this month. To mark this release and to get ready for Mother’s Day, we’re going to hear a conversation I recorded a few years ago with Susan about spiritual mothering. She also wrote a book about that, and we’ll discuss that book too.

I’m so grateful to welcome my dear sister, my older-woman friend, Susan Hunt. 

Susan: Thank you for having me, Nancy. I've looked forward to this time with you.

Nancy: And we go back a long ways—I don't know how long. But you have been such a cheerleader for Revive Our Hearts, True Woman, the True Woman Movement. You've been a personal encourager and friend to me over many years.

And I just want to take this chance to say, "Thank you for investing in my life through your books, through your ministry, through your friendship." I think we first met years ago, before we ever started Revive Our Hearts, but you've been such a cheerleader and a friend, and I say, "Thank you for being a part of this ministry as you have been."

Susan: It has been such a privilege to watch the Lord work through you, Nancy. I think I've told you this before, but one of the things I love is that I knew you before. I knew you before all the other women in the world knew you.

Nancy: That's right. We go back a long way.

Susan: And the thing that I love is that you were never seeking the platform. You were never seeking the microphone. You were only seeking Jesus. And look what He has done in and through you. And I praise Him for that.

Nancy: Oh, thank you. And I can say that's been my heart because I've had women like you in my life who have modeled what it is to have a humble, spirit-filled, gentle, gracious, compassionate walk with the Lord, and who've been ministry-minded, servant-minded.

You were a pastor's wife for many years. You're still a wife, but your husband was a pastor for many years, and you served in that role. You've served your denomination as a consultant to women's ministries. You've served the body of Christ through your books, through your teaching ministry. You got down to the Dominican Republic and were involved in ministry down there, teaching about biblical womanhood before there was True Woman.

So we have lots of mutual friends. Our paths have crossed lots of times. I can't believe this is the first time we've actually done a conversation together on Revive Our Hearts, so it's about time.

I just called you an older woman. Do you mind that?

Susan: Not at all. I'm absolutely amazed that the Lord has given me every year He's given me. I'm seventy-six years old, and I praise Him for every year, every wrinkle, every experience—all of it. It's a good place to be.

Nancy: Well, I love hearing that because I think a lot of women are afraid of that season of life. I'm just a little less than twenty years behind you, and I love hearing women who are pacesetters, who have gone before who are not afraid, as Proverbs 31 says, not afraid of the future. They face it with joy. And you have really done that.

Susan: Well, it's just such an exciting thing. I think one of the things I love so much is the perspective. The older you get, there's a sense in which you see things so differently. I used to go at such a frantic pace. But now, of necessity, the body just won't work that fast; the mind doesn't work that fast. But what I've found is this is a much better pace. It's much more reflective, and I love being able to share this perspective with the younger women in my life.

Nancy: I'm looking forward to that pace changing a little bit for me.

Susan: I know you are.

Nancy: Thank you for giving me something to look forward to.

As you talked about the enhanced perspective, the verse that came to mind was Proverbs chapter 4, verse 18. It's the verse I often put on birthday cards or greetings to people. It's my favorite birthday verse, but it applies to this whole thing of getting older. It says, "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn which shines brighter and brighter until full day."

We tend to think that as we get older we're going to get more dim, and some things do diminish, do deteriorate. We all feel that in our bodies. But as far as the soul is concerned, the spirit, the God consciousness, and the wisdom; it says if we're righteous in Christ that our path is like that dawning of the day that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. And, of course, that's when we see Jesus, and we're like Him. We shed these old bodies and get new ones that are made like Christ. And that's what we have to look forward to.

That's why I think this thing of getting older can be such a joy and not something to be afraid of, not something to resent or try to keep from happening because it's going to happen anyway. Right?

Susan: It does happen anyway. And I really do think that if our focus is that my spirit gets stronger and stronger even as my body gets weaker, then it's a joyful part of the journey. And I have someone ahead of me to look to because my mother is ninety-nine.

She lives next door to me with a care giver, so I'm in and out of her house all day, every day, and I get to see what life looks like from the perspective of a ninety-nine-year-old. Even as my daughters and granddaughters are close by, and I get to see it from their perspective, and they from our perspective. It really is generational living.

Nancy: And that has been the heart of your message for all these years—this whole thing that you call "spiritual mothering." In fact, you've written a book about it. You wrote a book about it twenty-five years ago, and now that book has been re-released in a fresh cover, fresh edition, but same title, same sub-title.

The book is called Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women. And this is something, for as long as I've known you, you have been championing this thing of passing the baton of faith from one generation to the next. And here you're talking about it in the physical realm. You're a mother, and a grandmother. Are you a great-grandmother yet?

Susan: Not yet.

Nancy: But I bet you're looking forward to it.

Susan: I am looking forward to it.

Nancy: So this thing of spiritual mothering—what is that?

Susan: It's very much like mothering. It's the nurturing care of other women. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians, it's sharing the gospel and our lives with others.

The word "train" in Titus 2 is a word that means more than downloading information. It does mean that, but it's also sharing our lives, showing, modeling. It's a show-me kind of ministry. So it's coming alongside others and living life with them.

It's really the kind of discipleship Jesus did because not only did He teach, but He lived life alongside with His disciples. He called them to be with Him. And that's what spiritual mothering is. It's investing in the lives of others in a nurturing way that we share the gospel as well as our lives with them.

Nancy: You have done that. You have lived that. And I'd love for our listeners just to get to know some of your journey, how you came to believe in spiritual mothering.

As you look back, apart from your own mother, your own biological mother, can you think as you were a young woman, someone who was a bit of a spiritual mother to you, where you first experienced that kind of woman in your own life?

Susan: Well, I think first I experienced the beauty of the concept. That came before the relationship because when I became coordinator for women's ministry in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, that was back in the late eighties, the idea of mentoring was not a popular idea. It was not a buzz word at all. In the culture at that time, individualism and independence is power, all of that was prevalent.

I was frantic to find resources for women's ministry, and there were none. So I began going to the Scriptures and searching. And the only Scripture at that point seemed relevant to the topic to me was Titus 2:3–5. Should I read that?

Nancy: Sure.

Susan: Let me just read it.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderous 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.

I could not even imagine what that looked like. I did not understand what it meant. But there was one part of it that absolutely blew me away, and that was, whatever it was talking about, it had to do with the Word of God not being reviled. And so, if it had to do with God's Word being honored, I wanted to know what it was.

So I began thinking about it and praying about it. I could not find a lot of commentary on it, but I was praying. Then my husband was called to a church with a rich blend of older and younger people. I was around forty-nine or fifty at the time, and there were women in their sixties, seventies, and eighties whose lives just captivated my heart. I watched as they loved me and as they loved the younger women coming into the church. They were not threatened by the younger women. At the same time, they were so eager to learn God's Word.

And so when my husband asked me to teach a weekly Bible study, these older women showed up.

Nancy: Did that surprise you?

Susan: Oh, absolutely! I didn't know what to do with it.

Nancy: Did it intimidate you a little bit?

Susan: A lot! It intimidated me. I did not know how to teach them and teach the younger women in their twenties who were beginning to come to the church.

Nancy: So you had a mix of women in this, generationally, in this study.

Susan: Yes, and I was standing square in the middle of it. And then it occurred to me, "Lord, You're giving me an opportunity to see what it is You're talking about in Titus 2:3–5, and now I just want to sit back and watch and see. Does this really work?"

I just couldn't fathom it. So many relationships that I saw between older and younger women were filled with tension and with resentment and misunderstanding. So we just dug in.

Nancy: You didn't have a program. You didn't have a formula. You didn't have a curriculum.

Susan: No.

Nancy: Except right here in Titus 2.

Susan: Titus 2. That was it. So just as we began studying Scripture, but always with this in mind, and I was always talking to them about that idea and asking them questions: What do you think this looks like?

And then as I began to try to do things to help them connect and communicate with one another, it really came to a head when (whatever we were studying and I don't even remember what book it was at that time, what book of the Bible) we came to a passage on marriage. And I thought, How can I do this because most of these older women were widows? I just didn't know how to go about doing that.

And then I thought, Well, I'll just teach what's there. But I told the women how uneasy I was. I asked the older widows, "Will you help us? Will you show us what it means to be godly wives? Will you share your memories with us?"

And I knew we had struck gold when afterwards one of the younger women said, "How can I go home and complain about dirty socks on the floor after I've listened to these women share their precious memories of their husbands and their marriages?"

Nancy: Who at that point would have given anything to have their husbands back—with the dirty socks on the floor.

Susan: Yes. That's right. Everything came into perspective for all of us. Then I began to see what it would mean if younger women could hear the perspective on life of older women who had walked with the Lord, who were walking with the Lord, whose consuming desire was to honor and glorify Him. And it was just beautiful, just beautiful.

Nancy: Did any of those women take a role in your life in spiritual mothering? Have you experienced that personally?

Susan: Every one of them. As they opened up and learned that this was what God was calling them to do. Remember, Nancy, this was brand new for all of us. It had not been talked about at that point, in our history as a church anyway.

As they understood the biblical principle, and as we looked back in Scripture and began to attach it to the covenantal principle throughout the Old Testament of one generation telling the next generation the praise worthy deeds of the Lord, it's like it loosened the lips of these older women, and it loosened the ears of the younger women. We were listening to and hearing each other and the way it was transforming our lives and our relationships. But every one of those women had a pivotal role in my life at that point—the younger and the older.

As I watched the eagerness of the younger women to learn from the older women, and as I watched the eagerness of the older women to pour into us, it just became such a wonderful thing to experience.

So all of them. I still visit with many of them who are still alive in their assisted-living homes, or wherever they are. And they're just great, dear friends, and they continue to point me to Jesus.

Nancy: Can you think of specific areas where—take yourself back to that fifty-ish women—that season of life that you saw something in them that you wanted to emulate or that modeled Christ to you? Are there any specific areas where they spoke into your life by their lives?

Susan: Oh, yes. One thing that fascinated me about them was that they were in charge, every Sunday. Everything that was going on in our local church, they were there. And I knew that they prayed faithfully for everything about our church life.

But not only did they show up always, but they looked so beautiful. They dressed beautifully. Their nails were done. They just looked beautiful. In every area, they radiated something to us—gospel beauty. It was that adornment of the gospel. I was fascinated by that, that these women had not let themselves go. They were showing Christ to whoever was around.

And that has served me so well because now, there are lots of times that I think, Oh, maybe I'll just sleep in. There is no energy today. But I think back to those women, and they showed up, and in so doing, they taught me to love my church. They taught me to love the Savior of the church and to be there as a support for the pastor, for the other people in the church.

So that was one thing they taught me. But another thing they taught me is when I would be with them, particularly with the widows, they always had such encouraging things to say to me about my husband. They would tell me ways that he had ministered to them. They would tell me about his visits to them. And instead of me becoming negative about my husband and seeing negative things about him, these women were always pumping me full of the good things about him.

Nancy: Giving you perspective again.

Susan: Yes. So I learned to see those things. They would tell me what they had gained from his sermons, what they had learned from his lessons, his Bible studies. And that was, again, a strong lesson for me.

So I now try to do that. I try to tell young women the positive things I see in their husbands, the way I saw their husbands minister to a child at church, or whatever it is. But just to turn around and tell them positive things about their husbands.

Nancy: Which is really teaching one of the pieces of the curriculum here in Titus 2: "Teach the younger women to love their husbands."

Now, you would think you wouldn't have to teach that, but there are times when you see things in each other that aren't loveable, and that's when we need that gracious encouragement and reminder to see that mate through the eyes of love, through the love of God. And that's what those women modeled to you and what you're now encouraging younger women. You've encouraged me as a married woman now to love my husband.

This isn't get up in front of a room necessarily with a PowerPoint presentation, with a notebook and fill-in-the-blanks lecture. You are a marvelous teacher, a gifted teacher of God's Word, but so much of what you're talking about in spiritual mothering is not formal. It's not structured. It's life to life, as you just described

Susan: It is so relational. It's showing Jesus, showing the life of Jesus to others and helping them to see life from the perspective of God's sovereign love and our purpose to glorify Him. As they begin to see that as young mothers, seeing them caring for their children is not putting their life on hold. Changing the diapers, whatever it is, that is their mission. That is their calling. And that is the place where they are to glorify God.

But those older women also helped me to see the potential in my children and not just the negatives and to have hope for my children as they were, by that time, young adults. Those women just continually gave me hope for my children.

Nancy: Which is another piece of the curriculum, "Teach them to love their children." To like their children.

I think when you're in the middle of a season of life, and you get surrounded with the pressure and the demands and the tasks, it's easy to lose perspective. This is why, whether you're single or married, have children or not, in every season of live, it's easier to focus on the hard things.

That's where it's helpful to have someone come around us who has the maturity, the perspective of being a little further down the road who can help us broaden our vision and see that this has meaning, that this has purpose, that this has value, that this is not wasted time. And we say, "Yes! Why didn't I see that?" But they're encouraging us, affirming, blessing us in that season.

I had dinner last night with three of my nieces and nephews—one getting married in just a couple of weeks—and to be with those young couples, and to be able to encourage them, to pray a blessing on this young couple getting married, to pray that their marriage would showcase the beauty of Christ. Nobody said afterwards, "Thank you for teaching us how to love our husbands," because I don't think there was a consciousness of that's what was happening. It wasn't conscious on my part. It probably wasn't consciously received on their part. But it's a real life.

We're sitting around a dinner table, conversation where, out of my perspective as an older woman, I'm blessing them, encouraging them, speaking into their lives. One of those moms has two little, two active little boys. She's tired because that's what that season is. And to be able to bless her as a mother in that season.

This is what spiritual mothering is about. I didn't go in there with a lesson plan. I didn't go in there with a prepared talk or intentionally mentoring. It's just caught more than taught. Don't you think?

Susan: I do. I really do. And sometimes it's without words. I think as I watched those women honor the memory of their husbands, I began to learn the importance of other women watching me honor my husband just in the way I spoke with him, the way I spoke about him, the way we enjoyed each other. Just small things.

I realized those younger women were watching, and I realize it more and more as time goes on that they long to see a husband and a wife that respect one another and are kind to one another, enjoy one another, have fun together. And that teaches them. Just the way we live our lives together teaches them.

Nancy: And it's teaching what is good or teaching what is not good. We're teaching, really, all the time. So it wasn't just those beautiful women in your church teaching what is good, but you've probably been around some women, we won't name who they are, but we all have, whose spirit is more toxic, and who, by the way they talk to their husband or about their husband or their children make it sound like a burden rather than a blessing. So they're teaching as well.

I think the thing that has been challenging to me is to realize that, now as an older woman myself, I'm teaching all the time. I'm teaching when I don't think I'm teaching. But by my spirit and, as you say, not always by words, but how I respond to life, how I respond to pressure, how I respond to challenges.

My first reaction . . . I'm thinking the other night we had a fire alarm go off in our hotel room at 4 o'clock in the morning for like twenty minutes. I was awakened, of course, quickly. We both were, Robert and I, and we go, "Oh, joy!" Those were just kind of the first words that came out of my mouth, but I was laughing about it later, thinking, Wouldn't that be a great real reaction to have to all of life—"count it all joy."

We're teaching in our reactions when we get caught off guard, when we're surprised. I didn't want to be awakened at 4 o'clock in the morning, I promise you. My husband gets up at 4 o'clock in the morning, but I don't normally. So when we're disappointed, when things aren't as we wish they were, the way we respond, the way we react under pressure, it's all teaching.

And that's why this Titus 2 model calls us to be "teaching what is good" in how we live and how we respond.

Susan: Yes. All of those things are just so important. It's just Christ living His life through us.

Nancy: Yes.

Susan: Me decreasing and Him increasing. And that's my daily prayer, "Lord, just push me down, and let Christ fill it up, that He is what will be seen in attitudes and words and everything." So, yes.

Nancy: We're going to continue this conversation with Susan tomorrow, and I know you want to hear more of it, whether you're an older woman or a younger woman. I'm a younger woman in Susan's life and just eating this up. I know there are younger women in my life, and in yours as well. Whatever chronological age you may be, there are women looking to you for wisdom, for insight, for encouragement, for help, for grace, and it is the life of Christ in us and flowing through us that can make all that difference.

So be sure and join us tomorrow as we continue this conversation with Susan Hunt on spiritual mothering.

Leslie: Susan Hunt has been such an encouragement to me over the years. At Revive Our Hearts, when we talk about a True Woman Movement, in a sense we’re really taking the baton from Susan and others of her generation and continuing to run. We’ve been talking with Susan about investing in the next generation—she calls it spiritual mothering.

As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, I hope you’ll be praying and thinking about ways you can invest in the women coming behind you. You heard us mention a book Susan wrote called Spiritual Mothering, and you can get more information on that at ReviveOurHearts.com. But I also want to tell you about another book that’s being re-released this month. It’s a classic by Susan called The True Woman.

Our friends at Crossway have re-packaged and re-released it to a new generation, and we’re excited to get the word out about that. We'd like to send you a copy of Susan's book, The True Woman, as our way of saying "thank you" when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will make a significant difference in the projects we’ll be able to take on over the next twelve months.

As we've been sharing, May is the end of our fiscal year, and we are prayerfully setting budgets and making plans for a new year of serving women around the world. So we really need your support and that of other listeners right now. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. And when you make your gift of any size to support this ministry, be sure to ask for The True Woman by Susan Hunt. Your gift at this time will make an eternal difference in the lives of women who will be impacted by Revive Our Hearts over this next year.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. What does mentoring actually look like in real life? Susan will show us tomorrow with an example of how she mentored her grandchildren. Please join us again on Revive Our Hearts.

Now Nancy is back with a final thought.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is encouraging you to invest in the lives of others. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speakers

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 …

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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 …

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