In 1 Timothy 5:1-3, Paul exhorted Timothy to encourage older women as if they were his mother. He also told him in the very next verse to honor widows. I want to do both today as we all strive harder to obey His Word. I talked last time to younger women. We need to do better at showing that we really are in need of training as God's Word says in Titus 2.
Today, I'd like to speak to those of you who are a little older. If you are like me, you may find yourself somewhat in both camps. I hope that you might find this helpful if your stage of life has no kids because they've moved off or if you have your kids in high school or even if like me God has put women in your life who are significantly younger than you. For example, I have one friend, Laura, who has college kids into her home each Sunday night. Though her oldest child is 8 (right, Laura?), she has been granted others around her that she must be purposeful to train up.
But I really think that mostly it's the oldest "older" ladies who may feel the generation gap the strongest and therefore may be most reluctant to fulfill God's mandate to us. So, what do I want you to know about this younger generation? What would make you understand them a little better so that you would know how to approach them?
The ladies I was with Wednesday talked about this generation as though the younger women had no need of them. There is a perception that this generation can just google any answer to their problems. They are always on the move somewhere, rarely taking time to slow down. This can give the illusion that they've got it together. They don't look lost as they zoom through their life from school to soccer to ballet to Bible study to the store. What can I give them that they can't look up or buy online?
What you need to realize is there is a reason that self-help books and TV shows like Oprah and Dr. Phil make huge money. These younger women are in need...especially of knowing God's way of living in their homes. They are bombarded by messages from these sources which tell them the "healthy" or "successful" way of living. But no one, no one, comes to Christ knowing the way to go that would bring glory and honor to God. It doesn't matter how they appear to you. You have to know deep in your heart that they are lost and in need of help. But self-sufficiency has been drilled into them. Be all that you can be. Just do it. Life is what you make it. These are more than just ads to them. They are the way they think they're supposed to be, but are missing what it is that God wants them to be.
So, in the same style as the last post, here are a few things I think we can do to get ready to be there for the next generations. Since we're the older ones, I've added a couple toward the end. There should always be more responsibility on the elders of the community!
- Speed up. Get on board with technology...at least somewhat. If possible, get a computer. Get an email account. Ask them to share with you some of the stuff that they love to look at online. Browse around and find something you want to share. (Yes, I know that you're thinking...Hello? Uh, Kim? If they're reading this, they have a computer. Actually, not necessarily! The one lady who might have one will print out copies for everyone! The one who is reading this needs to encourage her friends to jump in!)
- Coo over their babies. There's nothing to break the ice better than a baby. And there's nothing a new mom wants to talk about more than the one that's consuming her life. Let her know that you've been there. Ask her how she's doing in specific ways like: What's the best thing you've seen so far about having a toddler this age? What's the hardest thing to figure out right now with him?
- Let them hear about your struggles. I know many of you feel like you don't have a lot of "how-to's" to share. We learn as much from your "how-not-to's" as anything else. Tell us where you've been, what God has shown you as you've lived these years with Him.
- Be where they are. Go to the studies they are going to. Sit by them at church. Walk across the street. Go outside in the evenings and encourage their kids to play in your yard. Be available to them. Have a kid friendly home: protect your valuables, keep some baby toys around in a bin, ask them if you can watch their kids while they go to the store or meet a friend for coffee.
- Believe that God would not command of you what He does not supply in you. If He says: Older women, train the younger. You can do it. He will give you the power of His Word applied by His Spirit to their lives.
- Take seriously the warning that if you do not get this, the Word of God's reputation is at stake. Listen again to the words above. 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. You must care so much about the Word of God not being despised and scorned that you try and try and try again to reach out to the coming generations.
- Have a humble attitude. Be willing to serve, to spend yourself for the gospel, to obey the great commandment to teach these younger generations to obey what He command us all (Matt. 28:18-20). We all need to do the hard work of passing on what God has gifted us with. We have not been gifted for ourselves but to build up the church until we all attain to the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:11-16). Ask them. Seek them out. Give it a try.
- Finish strong. You've struggled hard, but you are not done. At the end of his life, Paul wrote that he had fought the good fight. He had finished the race. He had kept the faith. Did that mean that he had given up pouring his life and ministry into the next generations? If he had, we'd never be reading those words because 2 Timothy would not have been written. Paul would have been sitting in that jail cell just waiting to die. But he didn't. He passed on instructions to the one he was leaving behind. That's your charge.
- You're right. They don't understand where you are. Why do you expect them to? You are there to serve them, not be served by them. You have not paid your dues. You never could because you are serving the Savior not man. What could He ask of you that would be too much for you to do? At what point could you look at Him and say that you are beyond that kind of service? Or that He has asked of you more than He has a right to?
- Know that it's easy to love them! They will bless you. They are so kind, so loving, so encouraging, so willing to learn. I'm sure there's a few out there who will think they know if all, but you know what? If she lives a couple of more years, she'll find herself in a place where she's lost and stumbling. God loves to oppose the proud.