These days, I hear more and more talk about being a Titus 2 woman or a mentor to younger women, spiritual mother or other similar terms. Recently, I even heard someone refer to a Spiritual Midwife!
The terms sound great, but for many of us, they are still a little too vague to know what is being talked about…unless it is a rather negative picture of a woman who goes around spouting Bible verses and being a spiritual know-it-all with very little genuineness about her.
So we’ll get the caricatures out of the way for now. If you are like me, you didn’t have a spiritual mother…at least not one who formally functioned in that capacity. But there were a lot of women I watched carefully and admired from a distance.
If you have been a Christian for very long and have grown through a few seasons in life, you may be able to look back and see women GOD placed in your life to encourage or help grow you. Frequently, they were in your church.
But back to my question, if you are an “older” woman…and all of us are older than someone, you may feel you have neglected this responsibility. How do you start doing this important activity? How do you begin building relationships with women who are at a different life stage than you?
I will pass on some of the ways I have done it. See what GOD brings to your mind as you think about it.
- Live out your Christian life a day at a time. Spend time in GOD’s Word, pray. Be sure your faith is genuinely in Christ alone for your salvation. Notice I didn’t say that your life has to be all neat and tidy.
- Be involved in a local church where you are accountable and part of their body of believers.
- Hang out in places where you are likely to get to know younger women: in church, hang out where they are or at least where you will cross paths with them.
- Show an interest in their children. Get to know their names. Smile at them. Bridle your natural desire to critique them/their generation. When children make noise, don’t turn and stare/glare. If their children are teens, find ways to compliment the teen both in person and to his/her mom. She may need the encouragement!
- Be genuine and vulnerable in your responses to them. If you had a difficult time at their season, admit it. I’m noticed that most women think that it is only their lives that are a mess. They seem to think that everyone else’s life is just fine! We all know that just isn’t so. If you honestly did have it all together during that stage, don’t say it quite that way. You might have had some circumstances that she doesn’t have available to her such as extended family nearby to help, etc.
- Trust GOD to care for you if you get hurt in the relationship and continue caring for her and loving her if she will allow it.
I will pass on the story one friend told me about her growth just so you won’t be disheartened. She was not a christian and was struggling with infertility. In the middle of the process that up to that point had been unsuccessful, she started attending a newish church in her area. She knew almost nothing about church but kept attending. At some point, she became a Christian but was also involved to some degree with women who were praying with and for her re her infertility.
At some point, she did become pregnant and had a son. I met her in a different town when he was in high school. Her husband is still not a believer. But those are the incidental details for now.
She told me that as she attended that church over a period of years, one woman would occasionally call her and meet her for lunch. As a result of her interest and care for my friend I’ll call Mary, became more involved in her church and in outreach both to women and outside of their community.
Mary is a great example of the woman who “redeems” her household because she is a believer. Her son grew up active in a church because of her example. He will be a leader in the years to come because she raised him in a thoroughly Christian way…and because of the gifts he has! She helped him think critically about his faith and he was involved in ministry to others as well. His father wants him to “have faith” even though he doesn’t.
But it started because one woman went out of her way to take Mary to lunch and be intentional…over a period of years. She wanted to help Mary see beyond herself and learn to reach out to other people. As they took baby steps at first, after a few YEARS, Mary did grow.
I want you to see that when you are in discipleship/mentoring work, results don’t always show for a long time. It takes patience. You may not even see the full fruit of the work you do. You need to see what you are doing as part of the big picture of working in the Kingdom. This is GOD’s work. You are fortunate to be a part of the process. Rarely will it make you famous or well-known.
Are you okay with that? Honestly?
Are you okay with having the first thanks for what you do be from Jesus? For His “well done” to be the first time someone notices what you did behind the scenes?
This may be the kind of ministry you will be called to. It is not glamorous. But it will be amazing and delightful to watch GOD work and change women, growing them up into Him.
Then again, there may be appreciation. There may be a delightful long term relationship and this woman will seem like a daughter or sister to you. There is no way to know what the outcome will be.
As you move toward women in love, trusting GOD for the results, you will be able to watch Him change women in ways you would never have imagined! That’s when you know it’s His work. When you don’t have a bunch of little clones following after you. Then you know He did it, not you.
We are there to love, albeit imperfectly. To show them grace as well as how to live