Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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You Can Be a Mentor!

Leslie Basham: What does mentoring look like? Here's Susan Hunt with one practical example. This is what she said recently to her grandchildren . . .

Susan Hunt: I would love to see you establish the holy habit of reading the Bible, so what if we do a group text and I give you a Scripture passage each day? You read it, and then you text the rest of us your favorite verse.

Well, they were all open for it, because we had been laughing together and playing together.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I am so grateful that we have an entire holiday dedicated to honoring our mothers! As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, we wanted to do a couple things. First, we want to help you identify the women who have invested in your life and to thank them. Second, we want to help you look around and ask, How can I pour myself into the next generation? In other words, how can I be a spiritual mother to others who need it?

So we are going to listen to a conversation I recorded a few years ago with my dear friend Susan Hunt. Susan has written many books, including a book called Spiritual Mothering. And this conversation will help you learn new ways to become that spiritual mother to others. Susan has written another book some twenty years ago that is being repackaged and re-released for a new generation of women. It's called The True Woman: The Beauty and Strength of a Godly Woman. This book is hot off the press, and we're excited to let you know it this week. In fact, we’ll send you a copy of Susan's book, The True Woman, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount this week. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com for more information.

Okay, let’s jump into this concept of spiritual mothering. I asked Susan how this became such an important topic to her.

Susan: I was learning more and more about the concept myself, in my own local church as we talked about yesterday, and then I began speaking about it as I would go out to other churches and do conferences and retreats. 

I was amazed at the response! I really didn't know how women would respond, because it was simply something that was not talked about.

Nancy: And for those who didn't hear the program yesterday, just remind us how you would define spiritual mothering . . . what it is that we're talking about here.

Susan: It's when a woman enters into a nurturing relationship with another woman to encourage and equip her to live for God's glory. So it is life-on-life discipleship of sharing the gospel and our lives with one another.

Nancy: And the Lord had placed you in a church environment where you had older women and younger women. You were fifty-ish at the time.

Susan: I was.

Nancy: So you were seeing this lived out, and then you were seeing the impact that it made in the lives of those women.

Susan: In the lives of the women, but also in the life of our church. That was one thing that surprised me and thrilled me. As women began to really connect and live covenantally together—live in relationships that mirrored our relationship with Jesus—the impact on the church at large was so sweet and unexpected. It just spilled over into the lifeblood of the church.

Nancy: How did you see that?

Susan: Just the warmth, the openness, the friendliness, the sharing of lives across the board. We became more concerned about sharing our lives with our teen girls, about loving our church. It was in ways you could not always make a list of it, but there was an atmosphere there—an atmosphere of warmth and of welcome that was palpable.

Nancy: It's really the love of Christ, coming through those relationships.

Susan: It is the love of Christ, yes. And so then I began speaking about it as I would go out to other churches, and the response of women just startled me. I really did not know how they would respond.

Nancy: And, today, when you talk about Titus 2 women mentoring women, that's a pretty common concept, but it really wasn't back twenty-five years ago.

Susan: It was not. I'm not sure why we had lost it, but we had. So it was new, but women were responding. A couple of instances that I remember so clearly: I was doing a retreat in Colorado, and after we had spoken about it and I had divided women into groups with older and younger women. I had given them some questions to ask each other. Then they came back together, and I asked for their responses. I can see it clearly, still. An older woman stood up. She told us that she was in her eighties, how long she had walked with the Lord. She had been a missionary; she was now a widow. And then she said this, "In all of these years, this is the first time a younger woman has asked me to tell her what I have learned about Jesus." Tears were streaming down her face. She was glowing with gratitude and joy. 

Nancy: Wow.

Susan: There was a holy hush in the room. And I thought, Lord, what are we missing? What are we doing, by not tapping into this kind of resource and unleashing women? That was one of those transformative moments for me, Nancy. I still remember it, and I still get chills as I think about it.

Nancy: And it was the impact, not only in her life, but in the lives of those younger women who got to hear from her life.

Susan: Yes, yes . . . across the board. It was so amazing. And then, another time I was in Florida, and at the end of the retreat, the young woman who had invited me there looked at me and said, "I have heard the agenda for women's ministry for the next decade!"

And again, I was just shocked, because at that point I had not thought that way at all. I was still trying to understand it and unravel it all, and I never thought of it as being the agenda for women's ministry for the next decade and beyond . . . but I began to think of it in that way.

As a side note, that young woman was Karen Grant, the wife of George Grant, who had the opening prayer at your wedding. And how sweet was that.

Nancy: Yes. And George Grant wrote the forward for this book on spiritual mothering.

Susan: Yes, he did, and he updated it twenty-five years later—the forward for the new edition.

Nancy: She was the one who had the vision that this was going to be the agenda for women's ministries.

Susan: She saw it and became a dear friend and an encourager to me. That, again, was a pivotal moment. One more story. I don't remember where I was when this happened. We had talked about it. We had divided the women up. They had experienced what it felt like, and then we came back together. 

One older woman stood up, and she was literally dancing around. She said, "This is what I've been doing all my life, and I did not even know what to call it!" And now she had a name for it. And that, again, was just one of those sweet moments when I realized, "Yes, women are out there doing it, but they need to understand that this is what God calls us to. They need to see the biblical foundation of it. They need to learn that. They need to understand that this is God's mandate to us. It is a gospel imperative!"

Nancy: I've been thinking about, what is it that keeps this from happening? Why isn't it more of a normal, natural rhythm of many women's lives?

I wonder if part of the issue isn't that, in so many of our churches and relationships, we've paired off into groups that are our own age, our own season of life. There are clearly some benefits to that. If you have high school age kids and they're playing sports together, you're going to gravitate to some of those same moms who are in that season of life. If you're a young mom with toddlers, it's natural to want to have some friends who are in that season of life. But where churches have become so age-segregated and sometimes even in the worship services . . . you have the older people's service and the younger people's service. That seems to have been somewhat of a strategy in some churches today—to keep things demographically separated. And what we've lost in that has been this doing life with multiple generations.

One of the things I love about my home church is that we have a lot of people in our church who are old people. I'm not just talking older. We have people in their nineties. The oldest living male in the United States died, not too long ago, at one-hundred-seven. He was in my church.

But then we have a lot of families that are my age; we have a lot of young families; we have a lot of singles and children. I love sitting in worship and being in conversations before and after services with this great blend—this great mix of generations!

But I think, in a lot of cases really, people's only friends are people who are maybe in the same season of life. There's something so rich about engaging with those who are in different seasons . . . as we learn together, as we rub up against each others' lives, in our conversations, we're encouraging and affirming and getting perspective that those in our own season of life may not have.

Susan: And again, I think we've got to go back and root this in Scripture and teach our people—not just women. It's not just Titus 2, but Titus 2 is attached to the larger idea of one generation telling the next generation. If you go through, particularly the psalms, you will see that over and over and over. Of course, Psalm 78, says it so clearly. 

Nancy: Let's just read that here. I've got my Bible open to it. I'm glad you brought that up. The whole passage is wonderful, but the psalmist talks about in verses 4–7,

We will not hide from our children the things our fathers have told us, but will tell them to the coming generation, the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob . . . He appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them [the children yet unborn] and arise and tell them to their children . . . So that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.  

Susan: Yes, and that has to be taught. Because, by nature, we are inclined to gather with those who are like us: same age, same interests. We need to understand that God calls us to something so much richer, and He has provided those for us who are farther down the path so that they can tell us the glories of the Lord through experiences that we haven't experienced yet.

This needs to be a church-wide effort. It is part of the discipleship of a church, to teach the people this principle and to encourage them to take advantage of it; to look for older men and women who can invest in them, and to be willing to invest in the lives of those younger than them.

I think it's a bigger principle: we need a theology of generations, maybe, where we're thinking about this in our local churches, encouraging it, and then demonstrating it. I think we have to show it.

Just for example, at a women's ministry event, to have a panel of older women and to ask them questions: "What have you learned about Jesus through the experiences of your life? What have you learned about Him through the experience of being a widow, or of being a single woman who never married?"

That can just open up so much dialogue between women, when we begin to do things like that. So I think we've got to teach the theology of it, but then we have to demonstrate it and show what it looks like, and give opportunities for it.

Nancy: And, of course, we know this is supposed to happen in the family—one generation to the next. But one of the things I appreciated in this Spiritual Mothering book is that you talk about, even with your own daughter (of course, you were investing in her life, you were pouring into her life—you're her mother, biologically) how grateful you were for people (other women) that the Lord brought into her life to be spiritual mothers. You weren't threatened by that or jealous of those relationships.

Susan: Yes, we need to long for our daughters to have older women investing in them. We just need to be careful that we're not so possessive of our daughters that we're not doing that, and that we're not encouraging them to seek out those relationships, because it is an important element of their growth in Christ. I think that's something else we have to talk about and help women to see that.

Nancy: Okay, I'm thinking about the woman you said who was eighty years old and nobody had ever asked her to talk about her relationship with Jesus. We have some older women listening today, maybe widows, and women who are in your season of life (you're in your mid-seventies). Nobody's asking them, nobody younger is connecting with them. How do they start to develop a lifestyle, a rhythm, of spiritual mothering? They're saying, "I'm not a teacher. I don't have a class to do this. I don't think I could do that."

Just give them some things to get them started. And your book is chock-full of ideas, so I hope they'll get the book and read it: Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women.

For that listener who is an older woman, help her get started in this.

Susan: Start right where you are, with the relationships in your own family and your own church, and begin to talk to the young women, to the girls, and ask them questions. Just ask them: 

  • How can I pray for you?
  • Tell me what's going on in your life right now?
  • What things can I pray for you about?

It is just amazing how, once you start that, they begin to gravitate toward you, because you're interested in them. Just go up to them and hug themTell them how you delight in watching them. You are so grateful that they are in your church. You are so grateful for their participation in your church. Tell them the things you notice about them that thrill you, and then they will begin responding. Don't start by trying to teach them a lesson. 

Nancy: Or by saying, "Would you let me mentor you?" It doesn't have to be that formal, right?

Susan: Right. Just start with loving them and reaching out to them, and maybe even inviting them to your home for coffee. Wherever you are in life, just start with establishing those relationships and cultivating those relationships.

Nancy: And I know, one thing that will make those relationships bond like almost nothing else is if you take an interest in the children of those younger women. Become kind of an adopted grandparent. So many of those families don't have grandparents in the area.

I know that so many of my relationships with young moms have come about through my heart for their children. I ran into a young mom in the grocery store the other day. She just had her fifth little one. She's a precious mom. They're a precious family. They're doing really well, but she's overwhelmed.

She's trying to homeschool older ones. We stood there in the grocery store for probably close to twenty or thirty minutes, just talking. We ended up praying together, just encouraging her. She was actually escaping by going to the grocery store while her husband took her kids to Dairy Queen.

That's mentoring; that's loving; it's encouraging. Because she knows I'm interested in her children and being involved in their lives as well, she's hungry—she's like a sponge. We're not involved with each other in a small group or a Bible study (she is involved in that kind of thing), but the nature of our relationship is much more informal, life to life.

In fact, at church, I call it my "aisle ministry"—A-I-S-L-E. It's in the aisle, before and after services, where a lot of this takes place in my life. Thankfully, we're in services where we have older and younger people together.

It's finding those younger women, or sometimes, for me, an older women, showing an interest, asking questions, striking up a conversation. I think it's so important to be willing to take the initiative.

Susan: Yes, I really think we need to do that. One of the things I try to do with the young women who come into our church is to go over to them and just say, "Thank you for coming. I remember how hard it is to get three little ones ready and to get here. And I thank you for coming. It encourages me." And it does.

That just immediately encourages them, and they're drawn to someone who is not "judging" them, but who is loving them. That's what we can do, and then it can progress from there.

Just recently, with our three younger granddaughters, I spent the summer taking them to all of the fun things to do around Atlanta. We just did lots of fun things. We would go to Starbucks for coffee (they think that is so cool!).

And then, as it came time for school to begin, I said, "How would you like to start something this year? I would love to see you establish the holy habit of reading the Bible. So what if we do a group text, and I give you a Scripture passage each day. You read it, and then you text the rest of us your favorite verse." Well, they were all open for it, because we'd been laughing together and playing together all summer.

Nancy: And you're speaking their language, which is texting.

Susan: Texting. I learned, because I knew I had to, to communicate with these kids. Every morning, I send them their passage for the day, and soon I get back from them their favorite verse. And they're telling me, "Meemaw-mee, we love it! We are loving reading God's Word on our own!" So, simple things like that, you can do.

Nancy: And someday, they're going to be the mom or the grandmom, doing that for their children and the grandchildren.

Susan: I pray so.

Nancy: That's the vision: when you're in heaven, they're going to be the older women doing that for the younger women.

And this is one aspect of spiritual mothering, having an active role within your own family—even in your grandchildren's lives. I know, though your grandchildren live closer to you now, there was a time they didn't live as close. You still found ways to invest in the lives of those grandchildren.

Susan: I did. With the older grandchildren, they were not living close to us at the time. So we had Boys' Camp and Girls' Camp. All the grandsons came one week, and all the granddaughters came one week. Sometimes we took them on trips, and sometimes we stayed in Atlanta and did things around here.

And now, when I'm together with those older kids who are now in college or out of college and working, so much of the conversation revolves around those times we spent together. Their conversations with one another as cousins also revolve around that, because they had those shared experiences.

We always would have a theme for Boys' Camp and Girls' Camp, a Bible verse we would memorize, and a Scripture that we would study throughout the week. So it was great either way. Whether they're in town or out of town, you can find ways to communicate with them.

Now, with FaceTime and all of those, you can do so many things with grandchildren, even if they are a great distance away.

Nancy: You are such a cool grandma, Susan. Oh, my goodness! Hearing you share that reminds me of a group of—there were about five or six. They were then young girls in my life, many years ago. They were friends with each other in our ministry, staff kids. 

Each year we would get together for a day or two, sometimes an overnight, and we would call it our "birthday celebration." Their birthdays were throughout the year, but we would celebrate them all at one time. I would maybe take these girls to a hotel. We went to Chicago on the train one time. We would just do something different. It was a chance to be with them, to honor them, to bless them, to speak into their lives—but it wasn't structured. That was such a joy for me and for them.

Many years later, I got a letter from one of those who is now a young, single mom in a difficult season of her life. She wrote to say to me, "Happy Mother's Day! You invested in my life. You prayed for me. You encouraged me. And I want to write and say Happy Mother's Day to you."

Well, as you can imagine, that was deeply moving to me, and I'm thinking, What did I do? It wasn't really anything big or heroic or even really deeply demanding. It was taking an interest, being with them, investing in them, loving them, encouraging them, being a spiritual mom in their lives. Then, years later, you get to see the fruit.

We’ve been preparing for Mother’s Day by talking with Susan Hunt. Just think of the long-term effect you could have on the women around you if you were to take the challenge to engage, train, teach and encourage the way she’s been describing. Susan has written on that topic in a book called Spiritual Mothering and it's available at our online store at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You know, Susan has been a spiritual mother to Revive Our Hearts in a very real sense. She began talking about a true woman movement and praying for new generations to embrace biblical womanhood. Then God called Revive Our Hearts to wave that flag too, and for the last ten years, spurred on by women like Susan Hunt, we’ve been inviting women to join what we call a True Woman Movement.

Our friends at Crossway books are re-releasing a classic book Susan wrote called The True Woman: The Beauty and Strength of a Godly Woman. It’s a great introduction to biblical womanhood from a spiritual mother who has long lived out these truths. We’d like to send you The True Woman book as our way of saying "thank you" for your gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

Now, we know that you can get books like The True Woman at other online distributors. But when you give a gift to Revive Our Hearts, we are partnering together to help women around the world experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

Here in May we’re asking the Lord to provide (gulp) what is a really significant amount for us. That's $775,000 in donations this month. We’re letting you know about this serious need as we close our fiscal year. It’s a time when we close the books on our old fiscal year, and we finalize our budgets and get ready for a new accounting cycle. So ending the fiscal year strong has a huge effect on the health of Revive Our Hearts. It also enables us commit to various outreaches, initiatives, and projects in the year ahead.

If you give us a gift of any amount to help us meet this need, we want to say "thank you" by sending you this resource—Susan's book, The True Woman. You can look for that offer when you donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for The True Woman when you call us 1–800–569–5959. You have a big role to play in helping Revive Our Hearts pass on the truth of God’s Word to the generations to come!

Thank you so much for your help at this important time.

Leslie: When you feel like you've failed, you've just gotten experience that can help someone else. Susan Hunt will be back to explain how, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you cultivate meaningful relationships. 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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