Women Training Women: What's the Point?
- 2006 17 Aug
People Need People
Americans value their independence, but we can carry it too far. Christians are called to encourage and seek community. People usually thrive on companionship, relationship, togetherness. There is timeless truth in the words of Barbara Streisand’s ballad:
“People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”
As women, we draw strength from others who have survived tough times. We benefit from the wisdom of those who have walked longer with the Lord. We become better sisters, friends, wives, and mothers by growing in our relationship with God through Bible studies, prayer, and vital, strategic relationships. We need to see how life has been handled by others who can be examples for us to follow.
Job loss, serious illness, childbirth, death of a loved one, natural disaster... what is the path God has called you to walk? Each woman will travel the path God sets before her. Sometimes He calls us to hardships. But we need not go it alone. We need women who will speak out boldly with a mature wisdom that only the knowledge and application of God's Word provides.
Titus was a young pastor sent by Paul to the island of Crete to establish the church there. Paul wrote to him, giving instructions primarily on how to choose elders and other leaders. What qualifications should these men and women have? In chapter 2, he characterized godly leadership beginning with the older men, and in verse 3, the older women.
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
Other passages support the idea of teaching relationships. In 2 Timothy 2:2 we see the potential for four generations' worth of impact by the Word of God: “and what you (Timothy) heard me (Paul) say in the presence of many others as witnesses entrust to faithful people (third generation) who will be competent to teach others (fourth gen.) as well.”
The New Testament - supported by Old Testament examples such as Moses/Jethro and Elijah/Elisha - directly commands believers to join together in what we call mentoring. Both sexes are called to teach the truths of scripture, passing them down to following generations. But in Titus 2:3-2, the Lord speaks specifically to women. Why? Can’t a male pastor mentor women, too?
Perhaps. Certainly he can teach them about the Lord. But he will be limited in certain applications of the scriptures to their lives. He has only experienced life from a male perspective. An older woman will be able to expand upon a pastor’s input, applying God’s truth in a unique way to younger women.
For instance, how does a woman define 'pure' (Titus 2:5)? To abstain from sex before marriage? Well yes, but there’s more to it than that. Our young women need to learn true purity — why the way they dress matters, how their behavior and thought life and movie choices all reflect on God and affect their witness. What about submission? Who’s going to model godly marriages if not those who have been doing it for awhile? What does it mean to be kind, to work diligently at home? How do we love our husbands better? Our children? What wonderful characteristics to pass along to our younger friends. God knew that only women who have been there can speak with authority to those coming behind.
To teach the Word means that one must know the Word. Women need to be involved in reading, studying, and learning the Bible. Join a women’s Bible study group if possible. Personal devotion and study provide a steady spiritual foundation. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who remains in Me — and I in him — bears much fruit, because apart from Me you can accomplish nothing... My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are My disciples” (John 15:5).
Before you can lead someone in the way of the Lord, you must be walking in that way: abiding in the Word, soaking it up, following His commands, talking with Him regularly... having a relationship with Him!
Older women can teach publicly — to larger groups — but also through simple, personal conversation, by example and explanation, by leading a small group discussion, by teaching a group of teenagers. You don’t have to become a vocational minister in order to teach the Word. Become spiritual mothers to the younger women, allowing them to learn from your knowledge and experience, your mistakes and your victories.
So who is an “older woman”? Having any amount of gray hair automatically qualifies you. But it’s not a necessary characteristic. Age is part of it, but spiritual maturity is even more important. Even twenty-somethings can mentor a high school or college student just a few years their junior. After all, you’ve been there, and not that long ago. A young mother might mentor a newlywed. A mother of teens is of great value to a mother of toddlers. A career woman can guide a young college graduate who's a workforce rookie.
You need not be near the finish line — you just need to be a step or two ahead.
Kelley Mathews, Th.M. (Dallas Theological Seminary), married and blessed with three young children, spends her spare time freelancing as a writer and editor. She served several years as the Women’s Ministry Director at Rowlett Bible Fellowship. Her two coauthored books are New Doors in Ministry to Women and Women’s Retreats: A Creative Planning Guide (both from Kregel). She welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.