Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Titus 2 Mandate

The following letter was posted on a blog that I love reading and I wanted to post it for my readers so you too may comment. I will also give my .02 cents worth and speak out as a young woman of this generation to whom she is referring. It is long so read at your discretion.

So we have a good question up for discussion today... it involves the practical application of a very important passage of Scripture addressing us as Christian women-- Titus 2:3-5.

Here it is for your quick reference:
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

Here's today's question:
I am a 45 year old woman and am trying to be very purposeful in fulfilling the Titus 2 mandate of older women teaching the younger women. I remember what it was like as a young mom, wishing there were some older women who would take an interest in me. Although there were a few, at times I felt alone. I have not forgotten what that felt like, and now have made it my goal to reach out to as many younger women as I can. In doing this I have run into some things that I did not anticipate, and I am wondering if you might have some ideas as to how I can effectively reach out and minister to younger women, and how to deal with some of the things I have experienced.

There are times when I have had young moms over and their children are completely out of control. It makes it hard to talk or think! I have had little children stand on my couch and jump up and down...and the mom thought it was cute. I have had them help themselves to things in my home, and the parent not even correct them. I do not expect perfection, as I know that they are learning, but it seems like most "church" moms are not spanking and disciplining their children. They normally tell me how they are working with their children, and what they are telling me is not biblical discipline. They are being "controlled" by their toddlers, and they don't even know it! There are times when they will make a comment about my older children and how they want their children to be like mine...but when I tell them about how we spanked and that I was home a lot in order to train my children, they are not interested in hearing that. They perceive it as being "too much". They seem to want the fruit, but don't want to go through the process!

The other thing I have experienced is that many younger women only want to be with peers and bounce things off them. They do not seem interested in spending time with someone they see as "old". Recently I invited a local "moms group" to have their monthly meeting in my home. I wanted to pamper them and do something special to encourage them. I served some fun brunch food and coffee. I put together a gift bag for each mom. I tried to make my home welcoming and to reach out to them. My 18 year old daughter was here to help with the children so that the mom's could relax. We were all ready. They arrived...and I was pretty much ignored the entire morning. I would attempt to make conversation with them,but they were not interested. They spent the time talking among themselves. I also struggled a little as moms changed dirty diapers on my new couch, fed a one year old red yogurt on my furniture, a two year old ate a strawberry on the couch...and everyone thought it was fine. The meeting ended, they left, I shut door, and felt a real sense of disappointment.

I even had a young mom tell me once that she couldn't stand being around older women because all they wanted to do was teach her!

So, what is an older woman to do? How are we supposed to deal with having little children in our homes who are not controlled? Should I say something, or stay quiet for the sake of attempting to "minister"? How can we reach out to young women who are not interested? In this day and age I am finding that the mind set of young moms is quite different than it was when my children were little. It seems like they are so used to being "age segregated" that concept of spending time with those who are older than you is somewhat foreign.

Although I have had a few very special friendships with some younger women, I am finding it to be frustrating as I am finding most of them seem to know it all, and have very little use for me! I would appreciate any input or ideas as to how I could more effectively reach out to the young women of this generation!Thank you!

My response:
I wholeheartedly agree with ALL of Gina's points. I would love to have a Gina who wanted to constantly pour into my life. Luckily I have a mom who has taught me the finer points and skills of life and will teach me anything I want to know, but not many "outsiders" have I met that have a heart for this kind of ministry. I know so many wonderful Titus 2 moms that have been priceless treasures in my life, who have encouraged me, prayed with/for me, taught me sewing skills, quilting, canning, etc. Most of the moms I know are still homeschooling their children so maybe a lack of time keeps them from further investing in the lives of young mothers. We need them so desperately. We need the "older" moms who have no children at home who so desire to pass on life skills to us young moms, to teach us how to raise our children, to love our husbands, to be keepers of the home, to be discreet and chaste. Older women have much wisdom and guidance to offer. Young women in my opinion far too often only want to associate with their peers instead of gleaning from other women of another generation. As my mom always said, "Immaturity breeds immaturity." If the only advice and wisdom I ever received was from girls my age, girl's who haven't lived life, raised their children, been married for decades, then I fear I have missed out. I have received wonderful advice from friends on issues, but I treasure the godly wisdom given to me by those older women in my life who have encouraged me in the faith and have lived by example. Treasured women...so few and far between.

I fear that so many skills and wisdom will die out with my generation. Girls in my generation always seems to want to take the easy way out with everything and I don't understand that. "Whatever is easier on me" is what they say and we can not afford to do that. There are still some young women in my life who desire to learn or know how to cook, sew, can their own food, garden, quilt, train their children, love their husbands, serve their families, serve others...these will die off in just a few short years unless we have a generation of moms willing to teach and a generation moms willing to learn. Both have to be in the equation for it to work. John Piper always said that accountability is only as good as those willing to be held accountable.

Maybe you didn't have a mother who taught you anything and your grandmother passed away before she could pass on much needed skills and wisdom or maybe you didn't care to learn. I wasn't as interested in learning homemaking skills when I was 10 as I was when I was married, although having a younger sister born when you were 12 helped you grow up real fast. My mom depended on me so I learned at a young age how to take care of children, cook, and clean. Something I appreciated later in life because when I got married and had children, it wasn't a shocker for me. I knew how to run a household. I was and am blessed to have the family I did and the knowledge that was passed down to me.

As for Gina's issues, I would only invest in the lives of young women who truly have a desire to learn and have a teachable spirit. It's pointless to spend your time and effort to pour into girls who don't want to learn to be taught. You can pray for them and live by example, but when it comes down to offering wisdom and life skills, only the ones who are really interested will appreciate your efforts of love. Small groups of 1 or 2 work better anyway when teaching because it's not so overwhelming to everyone. Maybe you are interested in learning or need godly counsel on how to raise and discipline your children and want to learn how to can or sew, then seek out those older women and I am sure they would be glad to teach you things. Most older women probably assume that young girls' aren't interested so they fear stepping out. The library is full of book on "how to's" if you want to check them out.

The older women also shouldn't be so quick to judge or point out discrepancies. The law of kindness should be on her mouth, and when the timing is right, she can correct and encourage. Be a friend, listen, encourage, be an example, and build a relationship first, then correction won't seem so harsh.

It's the heart that God is looking for. You aren't a bad mother if you don't sew or have a garden so don't feel condemnation. We are all in different seasons of life, and can't do everything, but I want to teach my daughters and sons so they can go on to teach their children and so forth. Have a vision of future generations. Don't let it be just about you today...think long term. Don't waste your life...be a good steward of the resources God has given you.

Now, feedback from a Titus 2 women that I have asked to give a response from her perspective. Beware, this is loooong.!!
With feedback from women of both generations I have drawn some conclusions of my own after thinking about it for several years because I see this as an ongoing problem that doesn’t seem to find a permanent solution. First, let me address the older women. I’m not sure how old you have to be before being considered an older Titus 2 woman but I’m going to say at least middle age on up. Maybe life’s experiences qualify you to be a Titus 2 woman and therefore, you have wisdom to share that other ladies don’t. Maybe you started your family at a younger age, your kids are grown and have left the nest and while you may not consider yourself “older” you are nonetheless in a position to share wisdom and insight. Even those women who possibly married later and started their families at older ages are still thrust into the Titus 2 position if, for no other reason, than to share their wisdom of life and walking in God’s will while they were “waiting” on their children to come along. All that being said, there should never be a time in your life where you don’t have something to share with a woman younger than you.

It seems we live in a culture of retired people whose mentality is “Now we’re going to live a little”, “I’ve paid my dues, raised my family and now it’s MY time”, and/or “I’m taking a break and we’re going to travel eleven months out of the year.” Yes, I’ve heard them all. Is there a time for each of these perspectives? You bet! Anyone can be overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities and need to “live a little”, enjoy some “me” time, or take a trip you’ve always wanted but never could afford until your grocery bill shrank to a list for two people. John Piper, in his book entitled Don’t Waste Your Life refers to a generation of people whose main goal in life is to simply sit on the beach and collect seashells while they travel the country in their RV’s. Of course, that is my paraphrase. Piper was right on! Am I opposed to RV’s and traveling? Of course not! I happen to own an RV myself and they are instruments to be enjoyed just like anything else one might own. However, if it becomes our passion to the point where we are unwilling to invest in future generations because we’re afraid we won’t get to make a trip then I would say we have reached a point where we have placed those RV’s and our freedom of older age in a position of idolatry.

When I was a child all my Sunday school teachers were older women. Maybe all women look old to a ten year-old child but I do specifically remember their gray hair and their matronly ways. During those years of Vacation Bible School, all my teachers were older women. Where are the older women now? Yes, some of them are still pouring into the future generation but all too often, as John Piper proclaims, they are simply content to travel around in their RV’s and collect seashells. Who are they going to pass those seashells on to anyway? Why not take time to also invest in the lives of your daughters, granddaughters and the other younger women willing to learn. How about a class on how to sew, make soap, plant a garden, freeze and can vegetables, fruits and jelly, learn how to quilt (oops, I don’t know how to do that but I can sure point you in the right direction of those who do), make homemade beef stock to be used for winter soup, decorate a home on a shoestring, cook from scratch, make butter and yogurt and my latest pet peeve TEACH THEM HOW TO HANDLE THEIR MONEY AS GOOD STEWARDS OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN THEM. Oops, what that too direct? Remember, people are in cycles of debt for only two reasons: Their desires are more than their checkbooks (or debit cards for the younger generation) can handle and they don’t know and/or are not willing to live on a budget, nor have any idea how to create one. Where are all these older women who knew and practiced these skills and yet seem content to leave the younger generation to fend for themselves? Moreover, with the influence of our materialistic society and mainstream media, many of the younger women simply do not know they need help in these areas. After all, it’s too easy to use the old credit cards to head to the local store and get what they want, creating an insatiable appetite for more stuff to clutter up their homes and their lives. And then they complain they have run out of room, need additional storage and suddenly feel the need to go into debt even more to buy a bigger house where they can use more credit cards to head to the local store and get what they want, creating an insatiable appetite for more stuff to clutter up their lives, and then they complain……….do you get my point? It’s all part of a vicious cycle of discontentment, but I’ll write more on that later. My thoughts to the older women are this…..please get out of your comfort zone, be willing to take some risks, make some investments in younger women’s lives, and you’ll be the richer for it. One of these days the younger woman just might need to know what you’ve taught her. After all, I’d rather know how to do something and never need to then need to do something and not know how.

"Oh my goodness,” the older woman might sigh. “I’m so depressed because my nest is empty, I’m no longer needed by my kids as I once was and so I have no purpose anymore and I think I’ll just sit here in my chair and brood for awhile and actively engage in my own pity party. The problem is, I’m the only one at my party and I didn’t invite anybody else because I’m content to simply sit here and feel sorry for myself.” Well, dear lady, what you need is a purpose in your life. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and get busy doing something meaningful. If your kids don’t need you anymore in the way you need to feel needed then find somebody who does. Remember, Colossians 3:23 states “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Emphasis mine.) If your need to feel needed is more about you than the recipient then you just might be dwelling on yourself way too much. Remember, self pity is a form of self worship. We don’t need anymore self worshipers in our society. Besides, if you only find ONE younger lady who would appreciate what you have to give then you might be blessed enough to have single-handedly saved one young woman from being swallowed up by the culture.

Now, before you think I have let the younger women off the hook, let me respond by saying “Au Contraire.” Speaking from personal experience, I would say there are not as many older women pouring into the lives of younger women for various reasons. Each generation has its own ideas of what would be considered “proper conduct.” What one generation tolerates, the next generation embraces. There are certainly exceptions to every rule, but I can tell you that from talking to other women my age and women much older than I am, most of us think this younger generation is rather rude, disrespectful, think they know it all, certainly don’t need any help, defensive, wear chips on their shoulder and just waiting for you to knock it off, have no desire to learn any of the “old ways” because they are, oh my goodness, sooooo old fashioned and out of date. And isn’t it easier just to buy it? Well, what if you make a trip to the store one day and those items you thought making yourself were beyond your dignity are no longer available on the shelves? You think it couldn’t happen in America? You have the ostrich syndrome and your head needs to be plucked out of the sand. You’ll be running as fast as you can to the older woman’s house begging to barter something or asking her to teach you what you had too much pride to learn years before.

My biggest complaint with the younger women of this generation is that they are so darn shallow. They are part of a cattle herd mentality, seeking to simply follow what everybody else is doing in order to fit in, be accepted and be popular. And heaven forbid that we should ask them to think for themselves. Their opinions and thoughts are reflective of the latest fad, their favorite movie, other shallow women they run around with, constant bombardment from a liberal biased media and most of all, THEY DON’T KNOW THEIR SCRIPTURE, nor do they have a desire to know. They simply prefer to do what is right in their own eyes, placing FAR too much emphasis on their feelings and emotions rather than Truth. Oops, I might have hit a nerve there! Don’t call me and tell me I am unfeeling. Feelings and emotions are given by the Lord. I just know that you can’t trust them to make sound judgment calls because your feelings will fail you. There simply has to be a foundation from which you draw truth from, a foundation or Rock that never falters and is the same yesterday, today and forever. Now lest you call me and ask me if I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I will save you the trouble by stating, once again, that there are exceptions to every rule and I could name you many right now in the circles I run in. I’m speaking of the culture as a whole, and even MORE specifically referring to women in the church. There was a time when the church was light and salt to a wavering society. Now the two are so blended together that I admit I am taken aback sometimes by the shallowness of women who claim to be Christians, are regular church goers and who say they want to do what is right. Sit in on many of the current Bible studies and you might hear the teacher say “Now ladies, how do you interpret that verse?” In earlier years, the question might have been posed as “Now ladies, it doesn’t matter what we would like for this verse to say. What does it really say and how do we make practical application in our lives?” There are not one gazillion interpretations of scripture! Lately, God’s Word is being “interpreted” by a group of people who simply want the Word to say what they NEED for it to say, becoming masters at taking the scriptures out of context in order to meet their own selfish desires. We have to be careful to follow what the scripture teaches, and not what it says. After all, even though King David had many wives, I’m sorry, girls, I don’t want to be part of a harem, do you? Now, I’ll get off my soapbox about the shallow women (and men, for that matter) of our day. I’m not being judgmental (so don’t send me any letters) and I will even go so far as defend some of them because they simply might not know better, especially if they are first generation Christians. But to be spoon-fed for their entire Christian life and expect absolutely nothing from them would be remiss. All of us, no matter how long we’ve been Christians, need to continually aspire to Christian growth, asking God for wisdom and discernment. He promises, in the book of James, that He would give us wisdom if we would only ask. Keep asking, dear ladies, and five years from now you might be able to look back and see the marvelous hand of God in your life. Now lest you think I’m being legalistic or holier-than-thou, I will readily admit to you that I was a moron in my 20’s. Some of the dear younger women I come in contact with are so far ahead of where I was at their age that it shames me. But if I’m going to tout the sovereignty of God to my children, and the embracing of same, then I, too, must admit that God had to bring me to a place of brokenness before His proper work in my life could be accomplished. Thank goodness, I’m still learning and if you need a list of all my faults, shortcomings, struggles, and more importantly, the victories, then I will be happy to provide you with my long list. My God is faithful to His people and one of these days I’m going to write my own book, thinking some lady, somewhere, might be interested in knowing how thankful I am for God’s intervention. He truly snatched me out of the mud and the mire and set my feet upon a Rock (Psalm 40). After all, I’ve always told my kids “the more you have to be forgiven for, the more thankful you are for forgiveness.” The moral of the story is that most women my age find the younger generation terribly offensive. Their lives do not reflect godliness (and I’m not talking about an outward list of rules and regulations, either), their children are out of control, they are being ruled by their children, they have no desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman because the work is too hard and they’ve been raised in a “me first” generation, they are not willing to make investments for the future because they simply want the short-term gain, and my list could go further but I’ll stop right there.

The scriptures in Titus chapter two state that the older women are to be “teachers of good things” (verse 3) and that they “admonish the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers”, etc. (verse 4). These scriptures give the idea that there is some mentoring going on. After all, a teacher can’t properly teach anybody who is uninterested in learning. There must be a relationship in order for the teaching to be effective. And remember….accountability is only as good as the person who is willing to be held accountable. You can’t force younger (or older) women to be willing to learn. Yes, the older generation thinks they have something to share and the younger generation is simply not willing to learn. I would say, in our quest to minister to the younger generation, we have broadened our scope too far. Even Jesus told his disciples when He sent them to various towns, that they would encounter people who were not interested in hearing the gospel. The disciples were instructed to leave the town and to “shake the dust from their feet.” Give me a small group of young ladies who are willing to learn, don’t wear their feelings on their sleeve, express joy at having tackled some new skill in their lives, have a true desire to study God’s Word and I’ll present you with a group of women who will exponentially affect future generations. This younger culture needs a purpose as well as the older women need one. We become far too self-focused when we refuse to provide younger women with the skills and the knowledge that we have. The younger women are even more at a disadvantage because most of them are products of a generation where all the old skills and arts have been lost. Their mothers gave it all up, selling their mother’s and grandmother’s “tools of the trade” in their garage sales, forsook the gardens because they associated it with poverty and hard work, and marched to the tune of the modern feminists’ drum. Am I an old-fashioned geezer who drives a 1963 Chevy Impala (now that would be cool), wears her hair up in a bun (it’s too short for that, although I admire a woman who has a thick lush mane. Sorry, menopause thinned mine too much), a woman who thinks you have to dress a certain way in order to be considered “godly” (oops, the Pharisaical legalists will have a heyday with that one), a woman who thinks “real godly women” should always keep silent and have no right to express their opinion (don’t get me started on that one), and a woman who goes around judging other women based on the length of their dresses? Talk about bondage!!!! I’m very comfortable in my jeans and tee shirts.

There are lots of things I want to learn as well. I wish I was a better mandolin player. I wish I had the guts to sing a solo in church without hyperventilating and needing a breathing machine with Vicks Vaposteam in it, I wish a master gardener would show me how to garden better and more efficiently, I wish I could make quilts like some of my friends, I wish I could make a better crème` brulee` that didn’t look like something the hogs drug up, I wish I could make hard cheeses (I know how to make homemade cheese presses in case that day comes), and I wish I always acted and responded in a godly fashion as I know I should. The fact is, I’m reactive a lot, given my high strung choleric personality, and I really wish I had more victory in that area, but I’m so thankful that my Savior hasn’t given up on me yet and I’m continuing to be a work in progress. So, if there are any of you who know how to do the things I desire to learn, then I’ll trade off with you. I’ll have a teachable spirit on better gardening methods, I’ll respond positively on how to perfect the art of real crème` brulee`, I’ll even wear your hand-me-down jumpers to the barn to milk if you can teach me how to play faster on my mandolin. In turn, I’ll teach you how to make fried pies, churn butter and make homemade pie crust. If you’re not into those “domestic things” then I’ll even teach you how to properly color your hair in order to achieve optimum results. If you’re not into that either then I’ll introduce you to my Civil War library and we can discuss that. If you’re not into that then how about a Bible study whereby we could all be challenged to learn more of the Word, and asking the Lord for wisdom to apply it to our lives? I’m certainly game for that!!!

God bless you all.

Any comments are welcome if you are still with us that is!! lol