What's your place in women's discipleship? Do you see yourself as a young woman, an older woman, or a facilitator of discipleship relationships between younger and older women? It's likely you fit all three categories! Whichever group you belong to, here's some practical suggestions.
1. As the older woman
- Talk about yourself. Share your life, thoughts, and struggles. Let younger women “see your progress” (1 Tim 4:15).
- Ask lots of questions. Listen. Be interested. Be slow to give unsolicited advice.
- Tell women what you've been reading or thinking about. They might not say much, but they are listening.
- Keep on hand some favourite books to lend or give away. Ask follow-up questions. Read a book about womanhood with a younger woman.
- Share how you read the Bible and pray. Talk about how you deal with temptations to worry or gossip.
- Invite women into your home. Let them see how you run things. Teach a young woman how to make and keep a budget. Don't try to make your house look perfect.
- If you're married, welcome a single woman into your family, especially on difficult occasions like New Year's Eve. Let her see your struggles so she doesn't idolize marriage and family life.
- If you're single, model godliness in long-term singleness: show how your trust remains firmly in the Lord and how you serve him in your circumstances. Model godly relationships with the opposite sex.
- Give practical help to younger women. Look after a single mum's kids. Ask an international student over for dinner. Visit a depressed woman every week. Clean or do a load of washing for others during times of stress.
- Enlist young women's help in helping others. Spend a day together cooking casseroles for people in your church. Visit an old peoples' home. Teach Sunday school together.
- Be generous with praise and encouragement: “It's great seeing you reaching out to women at work” or “Your children are a delight. You're doing just fine; hang in there.” But don't flatter for the sake of it.
- Be intentional when you go to church. Sit next to a younger woman and ask how she's going as a Christian. Pray for the women at church.
- Befriend the teenage girls in your church. Go to the young people's service.
- Be involved in women's lives. Ring them up. Remember their details and ask about them.
- Write a younger woman an encouraging note, telling her how you've seen her grow in godliness.
- Call a young woman each week and ask how you can pray for her.
Any other ideas?
These suggestions are based on a list created by my friend Jenny Moody, with input from Carmelina Read, Alison Payne and Karen Beilharz. I've also drawn on Susan Hunt's Spiritual Mothering, an excellent source of practical ideas for women's ministry to women.
image is from dr. zaro at flickr