Apr 8, 2016

10 Practical Ways Older Women Can Encourage Younger Women



In the letter to Titus,  Paul instructs Titus of his responsibilities and leadership of the churches on the island of Crete. In the second chapter, he focuses on the roles of older men and women in mentoring and teaching the younger generation how to live lives that reflect the gospel.  Paul instructed older men to teach younger men to "exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely"(v. 2) as well as to live lives filled with sound faith, love, and patience. He then focused his letter towards the older women to "live in a way that honors God" (v. 3) without perverse, slanderous speech or drunkenness and to teach younger women how to be godly wives, mothers, and homemakers.

Looking at that passage, many  women may think those words are archaic and demeaning that all we have to learn about is focused on being at home. Many of us work outside the home and some are not married, so how does Titus 2 relate to Christian women today?  The cultural shift that separates us from two thousand years ago when these words were penned can cause a rift and misunderstanding at the heart behind Paul's words. His main focus, I believe, is on the Church to behave like a family. He speaks about being a body of believers in 1 Corinthians 12. Another way to see this concept of the body is as a family of believers with God as our Father.   We are a spiritual family with members of all different ages and seasons of life. And as a family, we can teach each other to live to honor God through our lives and to reflect Him to the world. This means that the Titus 2:3-5 passage can include single women, dating or engaged women, newlyweds, new moms, and seasoned mothers and wives. We are all called to live in community with on another by encouraging, serving, teaching, correcting, and sharing experiences we each have gone through. Christian women all have so much to offer one another, no matter what life season they are in. God has been teaching us each valuable lessons about Himself that are meant to be shared so that others will be lifted up and reminded of the One who is our good, good Father.

There are so many lies the enemy wants us as women to believe about ourselves, our worth, our identity, and where our beauty is found. These lies can bring lots of shame, guilt, pain, anxiety. We often isolate ourselves or try to carry the load on our own. But that is not what God wants for His beloved daughters. When we can be vulnerable with one another and share openly about our struggles, we can point each other to our Father God. We can feel understood, heard, safe, and loved for who we are, rather than feeling like we have to hide behind a mask or look like we have it all together. No matter what age you are or what season you are in, you can grow in community and learn from one another as sisters. And just like a family often has older, younger, and middle sisters, some of our spiritual sisters are older and have wisdom they can impart to help us along in whatever life season we are in. Older women specifically have an awesome opportunity to engage in community with younger women because of the vast knowledge, experience, and wisdom they have from their lives. Sharing the triumphs as well as the mistakes helps us younger women to grow and learn daily. And to clarify, I use "older" women loosely because I would consider a 20-something year old totally able to mentor a teenage gal, so if you have it on your heart to start conversations with specific younger women in your life, pray about it and pursue opportunities. There is no magic age to start mentoring or just being a friend to a younger woman.

Back in November, I surveyed 51 young married women and one of the questions I asked was about listing practical things that older women in their lives can do to support, encourage, and love them. Here are some of the responses. I would encourage you to prayerfully think about anyone in your life who you can reach out to soon.

1. Get coffee together or invite them over to your place and listen to their stories and struggles
"Setting aside a few hours every month to meet up for coffee. Talking over the phone is great but having a one on one coffee date is so much more personable and a little escape from everything. It's kind of like a refresh button."

2. Offer to pray for and with them when you are together
Praying with each other. That's a big help". Ask them how you can be praying for them, and then remember to pray for them. When you are together, pray with them before you start chatting or at the end.

3. Be a safe place for them to open up
 "Letting a young newly engaged/married/mothered woman know that she has a safe space is invaluable." The same goes for single, dating, and engaged gals too! It is so comforting to know you can be honest and open with someone you can trust has godly wisdom and will support you.

4. Be honest and vulnerable: 
"Being honest is the biggest help. I have noticed that so many women front about their lives and relationships. It is so important for the younger girls to see that life is not always a fairytale. I cannot tell you how many women I know that claim that they never argue or disagree with their husbands. That is simply untrue and saying things like that do not help anyone. I think it is important for younger girls to see issues get resolved. And then on the other side of the spectrum, it is important for younger girls to see what godly love is like through godly relationships."  

"Be real and share real stories of struggle and heartache"

"Build relationships with them and don't be afraid to talk about the nitty gritty along with the good. I think we often times try to gloss over the bad, but newlyweds need to know so they can learn to work through it all."

5. Point out good things you are seeing
Give good feedback if you see another woman doing something that is honorable, compassionate, and reflects Jesus well to the world. Your words could really uplift that woman! 

6. Speak the truth in love
"Send Bible verses, even if just by text, that can serve as a source of encouragement and strength." Letters in the mail, a quick text, a FaceTime chat. There are countless ways to share some of God's truth in their lives. If you see any specific areas in their lives that worry you, pray about it first, then humbly and lovingly bring it up. Don't sugar-coat the truth, but also don't make the person feel horrible because of your negative reaction that lacked love and grace. 

7. Avoid jokes or slander against men, especially your husband "Don't tell discouraging jokes about sex, marriage, or men." There is enough of that garbage in our society and all over television. Be an example of respecting your husband in the ways you talk about him. One woman summed it well: "Speak positively about marriage." This is important for women in every season. Single gals need to have positive examples of women who love and respect their husbands and young married women need to see this as well in older women. 

8. Reassure them that you've been there before and that it gets better
"Reassuring the younger woman that she isn't totally crazy, and isn't totally alone." Whether a single woman wondering if she'll ever find the right guy or a new mom struggling to get any rest with a newborn, you may have been there before, so tell them stories about how you managed through all those tough seasons and remind her she is not alone. 

9. Discuss things & give your opinions,  but don't try to make their decisions for them:  
"Be open to discussion, but don't necessarily try to make our decisions your decisions.". Try to listen without judging. Offer your experiences, if applicable, and ask clarifying questions, but try to keep yourself from telling them what they should do

10. Share any resources (books, DVDs, specific Scripture, etc) that have been helpful to you. 
Do you have a book that really helped your communication with your husband? Or a DVD series that helped while you were single or a new mom? Share it without others!

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I personally have been so blessed by certain older women in my life who have been intentional about seeking ways to encourage me. They have prayed for me, celebrated exciting life events with me, helped me process hard emotions, and have pointed me to Jesus over and over. I desire every woman to have that because it is such a treasure! Two of these women are in the photo below. These two women have truly made Titus 2:3-5 come alive in my life through their friendship. I value their advice, their intentional questions, and knowing that they are rooting for me. 


Do you have a mentor or an older woman who you can meet with? Or, do you have a woman who has left a lasting imprint on your life through their godly life and encouragement? Give them a call, write them a letter, or drop by for a little visit and tell them how much you appreciate the time they have given to being big sisters to you, reflecting more and more of the Father's love to you. 

4 comments:

  1. Your written words here are not only true but needed. Women today are in such competition with one another and there should be more of what the bible says about being a Titus woman. I have been blessed by many older women in my life and I would like to think I've blessed many too. Sharing this post on Facebook and Instagram from Party at My Place. Thank you for linking with me this week.

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    1. Hi Michelle! You are right: Often times we women do compete and compare ourselves to each other. There should be more of the Titus 2 mentality, especially for those who profess to be followers of Jesus. I have experienced this in my own life through many older women and hope to have given some encouragement to gals younger than myself.
      Thanks for sharing the post on FB and IG! That means a lot!

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  2. I love this because I am truly the older woman now. I remember being the youngest. Love ministering and offering help now to younger women and neighbors. Thanks for sharing this. I truly believe the older we are the more we've been thru and sharing our hurts and joys blesses others. I do that too thru on-line Bible studies as a team leader.

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    1. Thanks so much, Deborah for you words! What a blessing you are to those younger women, I am sure! I totally agree… the older women have gone through so many awesome experiences with the Lord and have seen His faithful hand in many seemingly impossible situations.I am so blessed when I hear older women share their experiences and things they've learned along their own journey!

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Elle Alice