Mary Willson, Kristie Anyabwile, and Blair Linne discuss the implications of Titus 2 burden-bearing friendships within the context of the local church, obstacles they have encountered along the way, and generational shifts regarding these kinds of relationships.
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Oftentimes in women’s ministry in the local church, we talk about Titus 2 being a key passage that lays out some of the basic principles for mentoring and relationships among women. I wanted to actually read a few verses from Titus 2, just to anchor our discussion here.
This is Titus 2 verse 1, “But as for you teach what accords with sound doctrine.” And then part of verse 3, “Older women 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.”
Blair, what’s the most important thing you’ve done or experienced in mentoring friendships.
The Lord has used so many ladies in my life to mentor me. And I would say the most important thing, even before that was someone sharing the gospel with me. It wasn’t a lady. This was a guy at an informal Bible study who shared Christ with me, even though I was raised in the church and had a Christian background. He stepped out in faith and out of love, pressed in and shared it, and the Lord used that to transform my life, to make me born again.
And then after coming to the Lord, ladies have come alongside of me to teach me. They came alongside when I was single thinking that I might be called to singleness, but I also had a lot of fear about marriage. I remember there was a mentor in college who walked me through that process of dealing with those fears, fears of getting married and what will happen during that phase of life. I didn’t have many positive models of marriage at that time. And I was able to pull from the church, from ladies in the church. They showed me how to be a wife and mother.
So the Lord has been faithful to use godly men and women to lead me to the gospel and to help me grow.
Were you the one who would approach the older women or did they approach you?
I was often the one approaching them. I think I always wanted an older woman to come and swoop me up, but I didn’t have that. So I just had to go searching for them. I would basically ask them, “Can I just sit and observe you as you homeschool your children? Can I watch you? How do you prepare meals?” I would seek them out, and they were very kind to let me let me do that.
Did you ever have an older woman tell you no?
I haven’t. Have you Kristie?
Yes, I have. And I think the Lord has used that experience for me to help me in my mentoring discipleship of women. When I was a brand new Christian, I knew that I needed someone walking alongside me. I needed a mentor. And so I asked two godly ladies in our church who were already my friends serving together in the church. We started the church together with our families. But when I went to both of them and asked if they would mentor me, they both said no.
What they said both in various ways was basically, “I’m too busy.” And at the time I didn’t know that it was an excuse, and so it crushed me. I went home in tears, crushed that the two godliest women that I knew didn’t want to spend time with me.
Fast forward years later, I was having conversations with those women, and they both said two things. One, they were both scared out of their mind when I asked them. And number two, they had no idea how to do what I was asking them to do. And I think the Lord used that rejection to burden heart with a desire to help other women in whatever way I could. And so, I just made a promise to the Lord at that time and said, “Lord if you ever bring anybody into my life who would ask me to mentor them, I will never say no.”
And so by God’s grace, over the past 17 years, I’ve been able to say yes. I think that fear can be stifling for a lot of older women, and also not feeling equipped. My first discipling relationship was with a young lady college student, she was with Impact Movement through Cru, and it was Campus Crusade at the time. And she did just what you said. She said, “Hey, I’m a new wife.” She was expecting her first child, and she said, “Can I just come to your house while you’re cooking dinner for your family and just chat?” And I was like, “Well, I can do that. I’m going to cook.” So we did that and that was what the Lord used to kind of, you know, start me off in mentoring.
That’s so awesome. I think sometimes we underestimate just how the Lord can use that simple act of sitting and observing someone else’s life. I remember as a new believer observing a family do worship together and thinking, “I wasn’t raised doing that.” It was important to be able to see that. My husband certainly is able to do that, but it helped us incorporate that kind of worship into our home because we had seen it modeled in the Body of Christ.
I can see how that would be so helpful to you. Especially since you hadn’t grown up in that setting. You were able to see what it looks like to be a Christian mother and then to watch it flesh out.
We’re just in a different context, right? So, 30, 40, 50 years ago, grandma would be out on the porch shelling peas, shucking corn and you’d be out there shucking corn and shelling peas whether you liked it or not. And grandma would be imparting her wisdom, and you would sit, and you would listen, and you would ask questions. We’re in a different context where we’re not communal like that, we’re more spread out. And so we have to find other ways, creative ways of fostering that kind of nurturing, mothering relationship I think.
And yet I think because we are in a different age, women express such hunger for that kind of communal environment, that relational environment. And so there’s so much opportunity to simply live our lives publicly inviting women in to see what it looks like to follow Jesus and live lives of repentance. What does it look like to lean on him for all things? Well, those are some wonderful thoughts. Thank you both.