I see a huge, gaping hole in the American Church. It’s a giant gap between the generations, between the baby boomers, the millenials and Generation X.
If you’re an older woman in the church, you likely feel disconnected and basically irrelevant to the younger women you know. Do technology and social media intimidate you? Do you feel, like me, just plain un-cool and out of touch? Are you fearful to commit?
What about you, younger women? Are there older women in your life mentoring you and pouring in their years of wisdom about parenting, marriage and Godly living? Or are you out there on your own, navigating as best you can but desperate for help from someone who’s been there and done that?
I want to encourage your heart, give you strategies to help you connect and creative ways to bridge the massive gap between the generations. None of us has it all together, but together, we can figure it all out and live full and rich lives…lives that will mutually bless each other and knock out fear and intimidation.
I’m convinced we need each other. Older women need younger women and younger women need us. The world is changing, getting darker by the minute and we are a much more powerful force against the enemy together than we will ever be apart.
Why do we need to bridge the generation gap? God tells us to. It’s not merely a nice thought. Our foundational scripture is Titus 2:3-5.
“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”
Is there a Titus 2 older woman in your life right now, a woman of reverent behavior who you can trust and who is speaking into you and encouraging you, setting an example of Godly, biblical womanhood?
Galatians 3:28 tells us:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
I’m convinced it would be fair to add, there is neither young nor old! It’s all about the love of God and the new life we find in Jesus Christ.
Ladies, we need each other! I need you, younger women and you need me and women my age. I need the life wisdom of women older than me and I’m over 60.
Here are a few questions I want you to think seriously about:
- Will you be broken bread and poured out wine across the generations?
- Will you pour yourself out for one younger than you whose technology you don’t understand?
- What about one who’s years older than you who isn’t on Facebook and Instagram and might not be very “hip”?
- Will you give her credit for walking with Jesus for decades?
- Will you older women give a younger woman credit for a fresh vision of God? For following Jesus and loving Him in a culture and world that’s trying it’s best to tear down everything she knows?
- Can the two sides come together in unity against our common enemy?
Younger women may know all the technology and all the shortcuts. But let me tell you this. One generation doesn’t have it all.
The fact that there’s this huge gap intrigues me. There are three primary generations in the church today…Baby boomers, born between 1945-1964, Generation X born between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s, and the Millennials, from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s.
Why do we need to bridge the generation gap? God tells us to. It’s not a nice thought; it’s a command. Paul calls it ‘sound doctrine’. There are generational differences but how we respond to them is key. There are multiple generations in the church yet I see the gap widening, causing suspicion and a general drifting apart.
The bible says we serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, three generations right there! These two scriptures sum it up well:
- Psalm 71:18 says “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God., till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
- Ps 145:4 “One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts. “
I don’t believe for one minute that division is God’s best for any of us. Our common enemy always seeks to divide but God desires unity.
Here are a few of the problems I observe:
- Older women feel unqualified, bewildered and fearful to commit.
- Older women often mistakenly believe if a young woman wanted to hear what we had to say they would ask.
- Some younger women don’t feel that older women have anything to offer. They believe we’re old fashioned and don’t understand the world they live in.
- Some younger women don’t think that an older woman can teach her anything she needs to hear. Some are sure they have all the answers.
- We live isolated lives.
- The generations are deliberately separated, in society and church.
- There’s a cultural tendency to resent unsolicited advice.
- Feminism makes us uncomfortable with teaching Biblical womanhood. We’re embarrassed to pass on ‘womanly skills’.
Ruth and Naomi are a beautiful example of a strong cross generational relationship. Ruth observed Naomi’s walk with God for years and proved her deep devotion by following Naomi into a country and culture she wasn’t familiar with. Naomi had a heart willing to invest in the next generation, so God took two very different women, one a Jew and one a Moabite, one old and one young, and knit them together in a beautiful mutual mentoring relationship. We can learn so much from Ruth and Naomi!
The word “mentor” is not in the bible but the concept is all over it. Moses’ father-in-law Jethro mentored Moses. Moses mentored Joshua. Eli mentored Samuel, Mordecai mentored Esther, Elijah mentored Elisha, Jesus mentored His disciples, and Paul mentored Timothy.
I see eight qualifications of biblical mentoring;
- A genuine heart for God.
- Love for others.
- Life experience.
- A desire to serve women younger than you.
- Proven trustworthiness.
- Shows honesty and integrity.
- Ability to be a good example of
- A willingness to practice hospitality.
A Titus 2 woman behaves with reverence, she controls her tongue using her words to guide, teach and heal, she’s marked by moderation in all things, her appetites are disciplined, she walks her talk and is willing to train younger women how to live a life pleasing to God. She loves, serves and respects her husband and loves her children.
Ladies, it starts with us. We see the problem and we can do something about it. If you’re younger, find a woman whose life exudes the fragrance of Christ. If you’re older, seek out a younger woman and make a point to get into her life with humility and grace and help her get every area of her life submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
If you’re older, be honest with your own struggles, let her see you aren’t perfect. Ask questions and listen more than you talk. Give advice sparingly! Be willing to give the practical help she really needs. Encourage her with your words, write an encouraging note, invite her to coffee, pray for her.
Younger women, respect her age and the life lessons she’s learned. Listen and ask questions. Find a woman strong in her faith, living with integrity who’s raised her children well and who trusts God even through tough times. Ask her to pray with you, she likely won’t push herself forward. Realize you don’t have all the answers. Humble yourself and ask for help!
God gave me this acronym which describes the mentoring relationship beautifully:
- I – Instruct
- N – Nurture
- V – Venerate
- E – Encourage
- S – Stay
- T – Treasure
I bet God is showing you someone right now. Don’t be numb to the need all around you. The women God puts in your life are worthy of your sacrifice, service and commitment. They need us to wash their feet, love them, challenge them, teach them, listen to them, laugh and cry with them. Can you imagine what would change in the church and in the world if we committed to be in relationship with the women around us? Let’s commit to being Titus 2 women together!