Revive Our Hearts Podcast

From Woman to Woman

Leslie Basham: How does mentoring start when older women feel like younger women aren't interested, and younger women feel like older women aren't available? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Whether you're younger or older, you take the initiative; you reach out. If you're an older woman, ask God to bring you across the path of a younger woman in your church. It doesn't have to be a formal program. Just ask, "Could we just together? Can we have a visit together?"

Mary Kassian: Exactly.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, April 23, 2015.

For the last couple of weeks, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have been showing us important elements of womanhood from Titus chapter 2. They write about these ten characteristics in the brand-new Bible study True Woman 201: Interior Design.

To see the video version of today's program, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Now, let's get back to the conversation.

Nancy: Well, Mary, we're coming to the end of this series, and we've looked at some amazing elements. Who knew that in just a few short verses here in Titus 2 . . .

Mary: . .  . three verses . . .

Nancy: . . . there'd be so much to unpack. We took one little word like "kind" or "pure" and find that there's much in God's Word on each of those subjects. And what I love about the part we come today is that it takes all of those subjects—those different things we've learned (loving husbands and children, working at home, being self-controlled, not slanderers, etc.)—and it says there's a forward motion from one generation to the next, a passing of the baton. A true woman is a spiritual mother; she's leaving a legacy.

And that comes out in this passage. It says what they're to look like, this is the kind of life they're to have, but then, they're supposed to be not only models, they're supposed to be mentors.

Mary: Exactly. What's interesting about this is that this is a letter the apostle Paul is writing to Pastor Titus, but Paul is not telling Titus that he needs to teach all the women. He's saying, "Make sure that your women are equipped to train the other women."

So there's this motion of the truth of God being passed on from generation to generation, not just in general terms, but from woman to woman.

Nancy: What it means to be a woman is to be taught from woman to woman, and it says older women are to be teachers. They're to teach what is good and so train the young women. Now, that's not always a chronological age thing. It can, of course, involve being chronologically older, but it may be just more mature in the faith. There's a responsibility not only to live the faith ourselves, but to be sharing it.

Mary: There have been women at every stage of my life that have had input. I think about when I was in high school—Diane North was the lady who was mentoring me. She was an older woman, but only twenty-three or twenty-four years old. Now, I considered her a lot older. I'm sure she wouldn't have considered herself to be "old" or to be an older woman.

Nancy: Every woman is an older woman to somebody.

Mary: We don't consider ourselves older women except to the women who are younger than we are!

Nancy: And this gal had an influence in discipling you?

Mary: She did. She was a sounding board for my ideas. She just really encouraged me right up front to get into the Word of God and to be a student of the Word of God and to be conscientious about how I used the Word. I learned a lot from her on how to conduct a Bible study, how to talk to other girls about my faith.

She mentored me on some aspects of leadership and drawing women in and taking them from stage A to stage B to stage C in terms of their growth, and discipling them. I learned a lot from her.

Nancy: How about when you were a young wife and mom? Were there any older women who invested in your life then?

Mary: As I said, I can think of women throughout my life. I think of a woman who actually was an oooolder woman, Pearl Purdy (that's a mouthful!). She was probably seventy-five years already, and she was one of those older women who remained engaged with younger women.

I was twenty-three or twenty-four, going over to Pearl Purdy's house. She would have tea with me, or invite my husband and me over, as a couple, and we would spend an evening with Pearl and Harry Purdy, playing shuffleboard. It was so sweet. We just learned a lot from just being with them and watching their lives.

Nancy: I've had a number of different women over the years who kind of took me under their wing. Your talking about Pearl reminded me of a lady I haven't thought about for a long time, Leida Fisher. She and her husband were an older couple in our church.

She would have me over to her house periodically, and we would sit and have tea over the little kitchenette table there and read Scripture and pray. She'd want to know how she could pray for me. There have been those women who have inspired me.

There's been a woman in my life more recently, a pastor's wife who is about ten years older than I am. She's walked in some places that I haven't. We've been connecting on the phone on a regular basis, and she'll ask how she can pray for me, how it's going in specific areas of my life.

Mary: You told me that she asked you the other night, "How is your joy doing?"

Nancy: Yes, she does! She's senses a need there in my life, and she'll put her finger on it. She's very direct and to the point. She says, "I've been praying for you about this joy thing; how are you doing with that?" She also asks about other practical areas of my life.

Now, I have to be willing to share with her what I'm struggling with, what the issues are. But then she prays about it, she comes back with Scripture. She remembers, and then the next time we talk she'll say, "Well, we talked about this the last time. I've been praying about that. How's it going in this area?"

I've been so thankful to have this woman investing in my life, even though I'm an older woman!

Mary: I love it! When I get around an older, godly woman, someone who is chronologically older than I am and who has walked in godliness, I feel like I just want to be a sponge and just go up to her and absorb information and absorb life wisdom. I just love being around those older women.

I also love being around younger women, because I feel like they keep me from getting crusty and grumpy and gnarly as I get older. They ask such good questions!

Nancy: Yes. For years I've said every younger woman needs an older woman in her life, but now as I'm getting older I realize how much we need younger women in our lives. It's not a one-way street. It's a two-way relationship and communication. Some of the younger women in our ministry and in my orb of relationships are life-giving.

Mary: They keep you young! These women so stimulate my thinking, because their culture and some of the issues they are facing are somewhat different than the ones that I faced when I was their age. Yet the truth of God's Word is applicable to all ages and all generations and all cultures. So, wrestling with, "Alright, what does this look like in the cultural pressures that you're facing?" helps me.

Nancy: I think it's easy, as an older woman, to feel a little intimidated by the "cool factor." I don't have any cool factor. Mary, you're cool, but I think, I'm going to be like a fuddy-duddy to these women, but it's amazing . . . if you just love and listen and ask questions . . .

The hairstyles, the clothing styles, these things are so insignificant when you get into relationships with women. I think of Elisabeth Elliot, who has been a mentor to thousands of women, including us, through her writing and ministry over the years. She never made and effort to be "cool."

Mary: There are many words to describe her, but that would not be one of them.

Nancy: But she was incredibly popular with college students back when she was speaking a lot.

Mary: Yes! She was a thinker; she was so thoughtful. I loved her because she used her mind to address Scripture. She didn't shy away from hard questions. She was forthright, academic.

Nancy: She would speak whatever she thought was the truth. She didn't waste a lot of words, and she didn't give fluff. She didn't sugarcoat the truth; she just gave it. But you know that she cared.

Mary: And that's the key. When I think of the women who impacted my life, in every case, I knew that they cared about me, and that made all the difference. It didn't matter whether we were sitting down for a little cup of tea (which was a little odd to me when I'm twenty years old), when Pearl Purdy brought out her little tea set.

She was British, from England, so she had a particular way of making tea. But that didn't matter; that was inconsequential. What mattered was, "This woman loves me, and she cares about what's happening in my life, and she's willing to talk to me. So I can ask questions and just observe her."

I think sometimes women are so intimidated by this passage, "older women." I think they say to themselves, "I'm not a teacher. How do I teach what is good? I have nothing to offer. I have nothing to teach."

Nancy: And the fact is, we're all teaching—we're teaching by our lives, by our example, by our words. The thing is, are we teaching what is good, as this passage says we're supposed to, or are we teaching what is bad? So, this mentoring, this discipleship, this life-to-life investment . . . we're talking about legacy here.

It isn't sitting down in a classroom, opening up your laptop computer and having a Power Point presentation. It doesn't mean you have a formal class. It doesn't mean you get fifty young women around you.

Mary: It can mean opening up the Word of God together.

Nancy: Sure! But it can be very informal, in the laboratory of life, life to life, in the context of everyday life. So, I think it's easy for a lot of women, even doing a study like this, listening to a conversation like this, to think, Oh, Mary and Nancy are teachers; they're doing Titus 2.

But this passage says to me, all older women, as they're maturing spiritually, are to be teachers. They are teaching.

Mary: Here's what I love about True Woman 101, the stories that I've heard as I've listened to various people report to me what's going on in their churches. What I love hearing, and what I hear often, is how much it's intergenerational. There are teenagers, married women, single women, women in mid-life, women who are empty-nesters, even senior citizens (seventy-, eighty-, ninety-year-old women) all in the same group together, studying womanhood.

What a delight that is! The younger ones are loving it, and the older ones are going, "Oh my goodness, I love this!" And they're benefitting from one another.

Nancy: It's interesting, as we've talked to younger and older women over the years. I don't know how many times I've heard older women say, "These younger women, they don't want to learn. They're not interested in what I have to offer."

And then I hear the younger women say, "These older women aren't available. They aren't interested in investing in me." And you have this stand-off. I think it's important to say, "Whether you're younger or older, you take the initiative."

If you're an older woman, ask God to bring you across the path of a younger woman in your church. It doesn't have to be a formal program. It's just, "Could we just get together? Can we have a visit together?" You don't have to say it's a lifelong commitment. Just engage, connect.

If you're younger, don't wait for the older woman to come to you. Ask God to show you an older woman in your church whose life is worthy of respect, and say to her, "Could I ask you some questions? Could we get together?" The bringing together of these life-to-life relationships, multi-generational, can be so powerful.

Mary: It can be powerful. I know that in my life, as I've interacted with women who are younger, I've had many women who have come to me and said, "Mary, can you disciple me, can you mentor me?" And often I've had to tell them, "Well, I don't have time for doing some things. It depends what you mean by that."

If you mean that you want to hang around and just learn from me, well, sure. Come to the hockey rink, and we'll watch a hockey game together and talk. That actually happened with one girl.

Nancy: And it was your son that was playing hockey, right?

Mary: Yes, so as I was engaged in the life of my family . . . Or I would have them over for dinner, saying, "Well, it's a little bit chaotic around dinner, you get what you get, but drop in at five and we'll have dinner. You can help me clean the dishes." When I've mentored and discipled women, I've seen it happen in that type of context.

Nancy: I think another thing that keeps some older women from really letting down their guard to be engaged this way is feeling like they've blown it, that they haven't succeeded. Maybe their marriage did fail; maybe they have shame from their past from not being pure, and they say, "I don't have anything to teach because I've failed."

I think it's really important that we teach out of failure, too. You can say, "I've needed God's grace!"

Mary: Yes. I know, in my life, that's the place that I've learned the most: in those hard times, in those times of failure, in those times when I've come to the end of myself and hit a wall, and there's nothing but pressing into God and leaning on Him and learning from Him.

So I agree with you. I think we can share our failures and say, "This is where I'm struggling. This is where I'm having a hard time with this. This is how I have had a hard time with this. This is what I've learned. This is what I wish I wouldn't have done."

Nancy: Yes. Share out of the regrets as well, because we all have them. I love the definition of mentoring that we talk about in True Woman 201: Simply drawing on your life experience, in the context of everyday life, to provide encouragement and exhortation to those who are younger. That makes it not so daunting.

Mary: Not so hard. And let me say, a fourteen-year-old girl can mentor younger women, and an eighteen-year-old girl, and a twenty-two-year-old. God has given us all, as women, this mothering, nurturing instinct. And we ought to be reproducing, spiritually, life in the life of others.

That happens through physical motherhood, but it also happens spiritually. Scripture talks about women who have not had physical children. Even though they have not had physical children, they can be the mother of many children.

Nancy: That's been one of the great joys of my life. God has not blessed me with marriage and physical children. People ask me, "Do you have children?" and I say, "I have adopted children all over the place!" And now those "kids" are having children.

Mary: You were telling me that tonight you're going to a four-year-old's birthday party.

Nancy: A four-year-old invited me to her birthday party: "Ya-ya, can you come to my birthday party?" It's a joy to have younger people (and then as they grow up, their children) to be plugged in to those families, to be investing with them.

Motherhood is something that every woman can and should experience. God isn't ever going to give me physical children, but I'm a spiritual mother, and I've been spiritually mothered. Going back to the first woman, Eve. What does her name mean?

Mary: Her name is "life-giver." She's a giver of life, and I believe that is a prototype in a sense for all of us, as women. God has given us this capacity to give life and to nurture life and to be a mother hen to someone. I think of one girl that I know. She was infertile, not able to have children, and it was such a heartache. She wanted them so badly, but year after year, nothing—no children.

Yet, that woman used those years of barrenness and was fruitful. She was a volleyball coach, and she mentored her volleyball team and discipled them. Those relationships that she has with those girls, some of them are going to be lifelong relationships because she has invested in them so much, in terms of mothering them and caring for them.

Nancy: A sign of physical normalcy and health is the capacity to reproduce, the capacity to have children. And I think that's a sign of spiritual maturity, spiritual life, spiritual vitality. Unless something's wrong, there should be a capacity to have children. You should be growing, you should be mature, and then you should be spiritually reproducing . . . not just existing.

This life does not just exist for the hyphen that signifies when I am born and when I die (the hyphen that appears between those dates). This life is just not to be lived for "the hyphen." It's to be lived for the ones who come behind me, who follow in my steps.

I want to be asking (as I get older I think more about this), "What kind of legacy am I leaving? Whom am I investing in?" When my body is lying in a box under the ground, who is going to be carrying that torch and that baton of biblical womanhood and spiritual motherhood?

That isn't going to just happen! We need to be thinking intentionally and consciously about how to pass that baton.

Mary: For sure. We need to consider, what is it that we need to teach the younger women. And we have it laid right out here for us in Titus. These are not things that we need to be rocket scientists in order to discern them. We just need to be willing to share the journey—the journey of growing in discernment, of growing in wisdom and in purity and in holiness and in kindness, and to share our struggles and journeys with the women in our sphere.

I think those bonds, really, of sisterhood, those bonds that we have with the women in our lives, really are what show to the world, not only the truth about the family of God, but the truth that God breeds life and He reproduces and He brings forth life, and that that gets passed on from woman to woman, generation to generation.

Nancy: One of the things that I'm finding as I get older and as I watch women who are even older, is that there is a tendency. It's easy to fall into the habit of looking at the younger generation and becoming critical: "They don't have this; they don't have that; they do this; they don't do that . . ."

Mary: "They dress like this.  . ."

Nancy: "What in the world are they thinking?" I think we have to be careful of that as older women. Yes, there are issues in their generation (and ours), but rather than being critical, what if we rolled up our sleeves and prayed for that generation? The need it desperately. We needed it when we were younger; we still need it . . . invest in their lives, love them.

When we see a whole generation of younger women in the church who have this issue and that issue, I think we have to ask, "Do we bear some responsibility for this? Have we not modeled for them what a different kind of Christ-centered life looks like?"

"Have we failed to train them? Have we failed to obey Titus 2?" Because, if we haven't done this, we really can't complain that those coming behind us don't get it! Some of these young women are clueless. They haven't been mothered; they haven't been spiritually parented. They just need someone to come and take their hand and encourage them and love on them and pray for them and say, "Let me encourage you!"

Mary: I just think we need also to develop such a grace, to give them grace for the journey. I just think of where I was at forty years ago, thirty years ago, twenty years ago. My life looked a lot different than it does now. I need to have that grace to say, "She is at a different spot, and God is working in her life, as He was in mine." And just to delight in that journey, and allow them to ask questions and to disagree and to wonder and to fail, fall down."

Nancy: I'm sitting here thinking how glad I am that older women extended grace to me as a younger woman. You know, there's a beautiful passage in Psalm 92:12–15 (and we talk a little about this in True Woman 201). I want to close this session by taking a look at that for a moment.

It is an Old Testament passage that gives us a challenge about this whole matter of legacy:

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. [That's the first key word: "flourishing" (growing, planted). But then, they're not just flourishing; listen to what the next verse says.]
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green [they're vital, they're alive, they're fruitful] to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

There are two concepts there: flourishing and fruitful. In our culture "young" is it, and a lot of women, as they get older, feel, "I'm useless." And we need to say, "No! There should never be a time in your life when you are not flourishing, when you are not growing, and when you are not fruitful." Those things can be true of every season of our lives.

Mary: I look at my mum who is eight-seven years old, and she is still fruitful. She always says to me, "Well, I'm still alive today, so there must be something God has for me to do today!"

Nancy: We were talking about this together over dinner last night and saying, "We're in a different season of life and our physical capacity at points isn't what it was at one point," and "Should we be pulling back in certain areas what our focus should be as we get older, in terms of ministry?"

But both of us looked at each other and said, "We want to stay flourishing, and we want to stay fruitful." I've asked the Lord to let me serve Him, if it would please Him, with a whole mind until I'm eighty-five. Now, He may not have nearly that long for me; He may have longer. Our times are in His hands.

But my heart and yours is that ministry may look different. It will. Our capacity will change and the calling God has in our lives will be fleshed out in different ways, but I want to be flourishing, and I want to be fruitful, and I want to be leaving something to the next generation that they in turn can pass on to those who are coming behind them.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss, expressing her heart for investing in other women. She and Mary Kassian have been talking about mentoring, a topic they also write about in the new workbook True Woman 201: Interior Design. As you heard in that discussion, True Woman 201 takes you through ten inward character qualities that the Bible describes as beautiful.

We'd like to send you this workbook and encourage you to ask the Lord to develop more of these qualities in your life. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we'll send you True Woman 201. So you not only will get the workbook, you'll also help this program connect with woman who need to hear biblical truth.

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After listening to yesterday's podcast, I wanted to let you know how much Revive Our Hearts means to me, and why I am a monthly supporter. I lost my mom unexpectedly twelve years ago, and shortly after that time found our amazing Lord! Revive Our Hearts has filled the gap of biblical womanly advice I needed, and still need.

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When you make a gift of any amount, ask for True Woman 201: Interior Design. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

What kind of picture of Christ are you giving the world? You're either presenting a positive picture of the gospel, or a negative one. Mary and Nancy will talk about that more tomorrow. Now they're back to wrap up this discussion on older women teaching younger women.

Nancy: I'd like us take a moment, Mary, as two older women to pray for both generations and to ask God for a good passing of the baton from our generation to the next, and then for these younger ones who are coming up, that they will become those older women who are spiritual mothers, passing on a legacy of godliness. Mary, lead us, if you would, in that prayer.

Mary: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your plan of passing along truth from generation to generation. It astonishes me, sometimes, that You pass on Your truth through such broken vessels, and that You pass on truth through human instruments, and that You desire me to speak truth to someone . . . and that she speaks truth to someone else . . . and she passes that truth on to someone else.

And so, Father, I pray that we may be faithful in passing on a legacy, we may be faithful in flourishing in the Word of God and in the ways of the Lord, and also in being fruitful, in pouring our lives in to the lives of others and loving them and speaking forth the faithfulness of God from generation to generation. In the Name of Jesus, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

 

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