What Vital Role Do Older Women Play in Church Fellowship?
- April Motl Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2019 22 Aug
The air was crisp, the stars bright. I had talked long into the night, pouring out my heart. And she listened, sitting there on a large rock, under the clear Fall night sky. I was seventeen and searching for a way to find clarity on how to handle tough circumstances in my life. She lent me the ladder of her more seasoned perspective. She was old enough to be my mom, yet she was a dear friend who will always hold a special place in my heart. Our annual women’s retreat facilitated that friendship and many more.
I will always treasure the investment that woman made in my life. She encouraged me to learn to play guitar and to pursue the Lord without hesitation.
Another spiritual mom came into my life and lingered there much longer. She encouraged me to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly with her testimony and life in a new way. She inspired me to write and to embrace the life of a ministry wife. There’s a novel worth of stories of women and their witness through friendships that have built into my life and faith journey. More than any book I’ve read or sermon I’ve heard, the words of women sitting next to me have had the most impact on my faith.
And I think that is a crucial part of God’s design for the family of Christ, especially in a multigenerational context, to connect with one another in ways that allow seasoned perspective and experience to encourage another.
What is the role of older women in friendships with younger women?
The story of Ruth wouldn’t be there without Naomi. Mary might have just needed Elizabeth and Zacharias’ miracle baby to encourage her faith and courage for her own (Luke 1:41-45). Another older woman named Anna prophesied and bolstered Mary’s faith again when Jesus was a newborn (Luke 2:36-38). Eunice and Lois were the mother and grandmother team that poured prayer and testimony over Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).
And very specifically, you and I have been called into this same kind of friendship.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5
Older women in the church are meant to be an encouragement to the younger women. The beautiful working of this relationship guards the word of God from being dishonored! Think of that!
Why is it so important to have multi-generational friendships?
The role of women friendships in our lives is actually so crucial to our faith journey that it impacts how the rest of the world views the word of God. One could argue over what exactly it is that dishonors God’s word in this scripture, but the statement starts with older women tending their own hearts for the express purpose of being eligible vessels of encouragement to the younger ones with the trickle down effect, so that the honor of the Word is upheld.
As a women’s ministry leader, my main goal in all of our women’s events is connection. First for women to connect with Scripture, but then secondly and just as prayerfully, that they would connect with a woman who would invest in their faith walk. Social scientists say that women are especially wired for connection and jokes are made about how we seldom go it alone, even to the restroom. From Scripture to science it is clear we need one another!
How can you forge these friendships?
You might already have a list of big sisters in Christ, but here are some ideas if you don’t:
1. Ask the Lord for one.
If you need it, the Lord will provide it! And He has already a plan in place to meet your needs even before you ask (Matthew 6:8). I prayed for a woman to disciple me for about a year before I was lined up with the right one. Every woman I prayed about approaching, initially said yes. And then her husband’s job transferred the family out of state. So the closed doors ended up moving me along, until the woman the Lord had in store for me said YES! I can’t imagine my marriage or ministry without the wisdom God funneled through her life into mine.
2. Make yourself available and be the one to reach out.
Don’t wait for someone to pursue you! You’re the one who needs her wisdom and encouragement so you be the one to initiate the relationship. If you see a woman with a marriage you like, invite her out for coffee to learn how she cultivated that relationship. If you see a mom with grown kids and you like their family dynamic, call her up and ask about what she did as a mom that she looks back on as good. Find seasoned women with a testimony you’d like to see reflected in your own life and go learn from them!
3. Be patient.
I connected with some women who ended up not being a good fit. I pursued relationships only to have that woman move right away. Know that the Lord works through seasoned women in younger ones and He will bring the right one into your life at the right time!
4. Lastly, if you are a seasoned woman, be ready.
Be that Titus 2 woman! Along with the Titus 2 directives, a great habit I learned from an Elizabeth George book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, is “Fat Files.” Because she wanted to be a Titus 2 kind of woman, she compiled 5 “Fat Files” on 5 topics that were crucial to her life that she thought might be valuable to others. In each file went Bible verses, articles, statistics, any information to build up another woman concerning that issue.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the “seasoned” season of life sooner than you expect. I had a slightly younger-than-me mom refer to me as her “Elizabeth” and at first I was a bit taken aback. I was not past child-bearing years--how dare I be called old! But the comment was meant to be sweet and sincere. And we are all supposed to be an Elizabeth or a Naomi for someone out there. Regardless of whether or not our hair has caught some salt and pepper, we are called to be salt to the world and women who season our younger sisters with gracious encouragement.
In the end, this precious sisterhood is meant to be part of a sacred calling to encourage each other. Thus, we protect the Word of God from the dishonor that comes when we live our faith out of discouragement rather than in the confidence, joy, and fruitfulness that shine out of a fully encouraged woman.
April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April here and here.
Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen