Searched All Over…

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Lately, I’ve heard many young Christian women, unmarried, wives, and mothers alike, asking a simple but profound question: “WHERE ARE THE TITUS 2 WOMEN IN MY REAL LIFE?” Titus 2:3-5 should more like in-person, real-life training. That’s not to say that the Christian women authors and teachers aren’t fulfilling a significant and important role in the body of Christ. But it’s not the same as Titus 2 style mentoring. Young women don’t always know how to *find* a mentor, and older women often don’t know how to *be* a mentor. Some women seem really good at this, and others go about it somewhat subtly, but I think there are definitely Christian women that are falling through the cracks, on both ends of the spectrum. I have wondered in my mind for a while what I could do to change the situation.

As “younger women” like Titus 2 talks about, how do we go about finding a mentor– an “older woman”?

Here are some places I’ve found them:

  • In my local church
  • From neighbors & friends in community
  • Through books & biblical teachings
  • Over the internet
But I think one thing that can trip us up is if we are only open to learning one particular thing at a particular time.  When I think back about the women I’ve learned from, most of the mentors of my life have not come *at the time that I felt like I needed* to learn that particular thing. Instead, I have looked for women who do anything well… some are lifelong learners and have some interesting topics/subjects to teach me about (for example, one friend is really into psycho-analysis  and so I often volunteer for her projects in class so I can on a superficial level learn what shes learning. And by her conversation and sometimes venting, she explains to me how to apply those things in real life), so I learn things like that from certain friends.  Three different families that I spend time with now and when I was single raised their children thoughtfully & intentionally, and so I learned that from them even though I wasn’t remotely near having children.
Some women I’m watching now have challenging/difficult marriages but persevere through them and I try to learn that even though I’m quite content & delighted in our marriage.   Another woman I’ve learned from lately is really faithful at Bible study and teaching and so I’ve been intentionally spending time to learn that from her.  A different woman I haven’t met personally yet has an immaculate kitchen (despite having 3 busy children) and is also an excellent cook.   I’m learning a lot via text messaging and social media and conversation about food prep & keeping a kitchen tidier than I’d previously thought possible (not that I do that super-well now, but I do it better than I would’ve if I was only paying attention to try to learn one particular topic to learn from her and missed the things she did well).
 
If I purposed to only learn the one or two things I felt like I needed at a particular time in life, I might have missed learning from any of these women.  Instead, I try to focus on what other women do *WELL* and try to learn that, regardless of whether I think that’s the particular thing I “need” at that moment in life.  Look at what things a woman does “excellently” and seek to learn from her.  If we do that, I think regardless of our context (even difficult ones: overseas, with few friends/connections; in a small country church with few friends; in transition with no long-time friends, etc.), we can find a plethora of mentors even if it’s not necessarily in the area where we ourselves are struggling at a particular point.

Consider this the “launching” of a conversation about this issue- I want to hear your thoughts and comments as we talk through this issue of mentoring/teaching/discipling. I’d love for you to leave any questions or concerns about Titus 2-style mentoring, and I’ll do my best to either find resources that speak to your particular concern or question or I’ll touch on it personally in this series. Tell me what has lacked or where you struggle in terms of this kind of woman-teaching-woman discipleship. I can’t wait to hear from you and learn more together about this important role for Christian women!

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Who are you listening to? The Value of Wise Counsel

There are some things my husband and I are not good at and some things we’ve learned by messing up so many things. But one thing we’ve (in my opinion) done well over the last 7 years of been together 2 of which have been marriage is that we regularly seek wise counsel.

Of course we read Scripture, and seek to line up our lives with what we find there, and we don’t just fly off and talk to large swathes of people before talking things through together just the two of us.

But we have found it extremely valuable to proactively pursue the advice and counsel of godly people God has put in our lives.

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SEEK!

We actively ask for the input of people we respect and love that are farther down life’s roads than we are. If we’re talking about parenting issues, we listen to people whose parenting we’ve watched and admired. If we’re talking about life decisions, we talk to people who are wise and who live thoughtfully and intentionally. Sometimes we’ll read an article, listen to a sermon online, or talk to similar-aged peers about it. We’ve just gained so much by seeking out the godly counsel of wise believers, that it’s become a regularly-walked path in our lives.

We don’t just have these conversations if we happen to be around them… we intentionally choose to ask for input, and deliberately seek it out from friends we respect.

WISE

One thing to consider is where you’re getting your advice… sometimes a group of young moms can end up talking circles around something, whereas a mom with a couple decades of experience can put that same issue in perspective quite easily. Sometimes we miss big Truths because we’re getting input and advice from people who are just as clueless as we ourselves are. So, I’d encourage you, in your decisions, to seek out people who have proven themselves wise… not over weeks or months, but over years and decades. Don’t just seek a stamp of approval for what you want to do… talk with godly friends before decisions are made, and go into these conversations with an open mind!

Ask– what is the likely “fruit” of following the advice of the person(s) I’m listening to? Remember that old saying, “consider the source”… a bunch of moms on an internet message board may or may not have good advice, but if you carefully watch two or three moms in real life, and you see their children in living color, you can much more easily discern the value of the advice they’re dishing out, for good or for ill.

Be discerning as to where your advice/decision-making process is coming from. Are you simply “following your gut”? Are your priorities coming from Scripture? Is your advice coming out of culture? Is it coming from wise, godly counselors? Think carefully about what is influencing the decisions you make.

COUNSEL

Reaching out to, and implementing the advice of wise counselors has been a significant part of our married life… some of our very best friends are people who have proven themselves to be wise advisors. Sometimes life gets messy, or you’re so deep in the midst of a problem that you can’t see your way out. It is such a gift to have trusted people to whom you can turn when things get murky, and that’s a benefit of the Body of Christ. We can turn to people within the Body and learn from one another!

AND AFTER YOU SEEK WISE COUNSEL…

Pray, talk things over with your spouse, parents, or trusted friends, and see what God would have you do. At the end of the day, counsel is just counsel. No one else can make a decision for you or live your life for you… so, once you’ve sought out wise counselors, and they’ve offered you insight, prayers, and advice, you still have to walk forward, ultimately, with prayer and in faith.

I don’t want to overstate the importance of godly friends and counselors, and yet, I think it’s extremely beneficial and biblical to have a number of wise, experienced, advice-givers in life.

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The Bible has a lot to say about counsel. I’ll close by sharing some verses:

  • The fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” ~Proverbs 12:15
  • “Who is this who darkens counsel without knowledge?” ~Job 38:2~ (This if from God, talking to Job. It is a serious thing when counsel is offered without knowledge to back it up… and yet, it happens all the time– we must be discerning to the advice we heed!)
  • “Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding…”~1 Chronicles 27
  • Listen to advice, and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” ~Proverbs 19:20
  • “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…” ~Psalm 1:1
  • I bless the LORD Who gives me counsel…” ~Psalm 16:7
  • “In an abundance of counselors there is safety.” ~Proverbs 11:14
  • “The sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” ~Proverbs 27:9
  • His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor…” ~Isaiah 9:6

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