Help Wanted: Older Woman to Serve as Reliable Guide

Note from the editor: This blog post by Carolyn Mahaney originally appeared here at the girltalk blog on October 22, 2013.

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Destination matters; not just how we feel along the way.

Take the whooping cranes, for example. A lone whooping crane, or batch of inexperienced flyers, may enjoy the breeze and the scenery every bit as much as the whoopers who follow an older bird, but they all have to land some time. And it matters where they touch down.

“So what is our destination?” we may well ask. What is the end goal of older women teaching younger women?

Faith. Patience. Love. Purity. Steadfastness. Progress. (Heb 13.7, 2 Tim. 3:10, 1 Tim. 4:12-15)

That the word of God may not be reviled. (Tit. 2:5)

That we may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (Tit. 2:10)

We are to imitate and follow godly women so we might reach Destination Godliness.

But if we are honest, we sometimes want more sympathy than steadfastness out of discipleship. We prefer more understanding, less exhortation. A little more comfort and a little less correction.

So we tend to drift toward the “What you? Me too!” friend who makes us feel OK about our shortcomings. We prefer friends who can relate to our struggles, who are “real” about their faults. But we may keep our distance—and even judge—the woman who seems godlier, more “together” (we say, a tad derisively) than we are.

We may like to talk, even debate, serious theology, but resist inquiry into how that theology is working out in our home, our work-place, or our parenting. We may shower likes on blog posts where women share faults and failures as if they are badges of honor, but pass over an article or book that we fear may make us feel bad about ourselves.

We sometimes have a take the sugar hold the medicine approach to discipleship.

But this is not to our benefit. “Who is the friend who will be a real blessing to my soul?” asks Charles Bridges: “Is it one who will humor my fancies and flatter my vanity?….This comes far short of my need. I am a poor, straying sinner with a wayward will and a blinded heart, going wrong at every step.”

The authors of the epistles see our need. They don’t laugh off faults and failures. Rather, they repeatedly, relentlessly remind us that a life transformed by the gospel should look like it. They exhort us, by the grace of God and in reliance upon the Holy Spirit, to stay on course, press forward to maturity, and make progress toward the goal. And if we are to reach our destination, they tell us, younger women need to follow older women. (More to come on who these older women are, anyway. Not all of them have white hair.)

While it is a wonderful blessing to have friends to walk with us, we also need friends who have walked ahead of us. We need women who have weathered storms and passed landmarks of godliness to teach us how to make progress in our faith. We need godly, older women to help us reach our destination.

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Carolyn Mahaney is the editor-in-chief of girltalk, and has written three books: Feminine Appeal, Girl Talk, and Shopping for Time

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3 comments
    • Dave – The reason we worded it “of” Jesus instead of “for” is because He is the one we ultimately want to follow. So people can follow us… but only as we follow Christ. We aren’t just making disciples, we’re making disciples of Jesus. Another reason we shy away from the word “for” is because we know that when it gets down to being a disciple, God is the only one who saves. So we don’t want to distance our work from His work by saying we do things for Him in case this is misunderstood as us doing saving work or Him being subject to our actions.

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