A Woman’s Core Callings
About the Guest
A real biblical woman is one who embraces her core callings from Genesis. Barbara Rainey, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Robert Lewis, and Courtney Reissig give examples of those core callings that help define the purpose of biblical womanhood.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Courtney ReissigCourtney Reissig is a pastor's wife, freelance writer, blogger, and teacher. She was born in California, grew up in Texas, and did a couple of stints in Michigan before finally graduating from Northwestern College (MN). After doing some graduate study at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, she met her husband and fell in love, and they now make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas. You can read more of her writing on her blog or follow her on Twitt...more
Robert LewisRobert Lewis has been a pastor, writer, speaker, and visionary for over forty years. Robert founded the original Men’s Fraternity and developed the Men’s Fraternity curriculum in 1990 while serving as Teaching Pastor and Directional Leader at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Robert was named Pastor of the Year by the National Coalition of Men’s Ministry in recognition for his efforts to help men discover Authentic Manhood. Graduating from the University of Arka...more
Barbara Rainey, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Robert Lewis, and Courtney Reissig give examples of the core callings that help define the purpose of biblical womanhood.
A Woman’s Core Callings
Bob: There are some parts of the Bible where God speaks directly to men as men and other parts where God speaks directly to women as women. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says we should pay careful attention to those passages that are aimed at a particular gender.
Nancy: There are specific qualities that God considers precious and beautiful in a woman. First Peter 3 speaks of her having the internal beauty and radiance of a spirit that is gentle—it is meek / it is quiet—a spirit that trusts in God. Scripture talks about a woman as having a submissive spirit. Scripture talks about a woman who fears the Lord in Proverbs 31. There are a number of passages in Scripture that speak of women in the role of concerned praying women. How we need that in our day!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 22nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine.
What is it that’s at the core of the God-defined difference between male and female? How does that go beyond just anatomy? We’ll explore that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We wandered off into a little bit of a minefield here; right? You have to be careful where you step.
Dennis: We have not been—
Bob: We didn’t wander off?
Dennis: No; we didn’t. We’re very intentional, here, on FamilyLife Today. [Laughter] Bob knows that.
Bob: We knew where we were going. We also knew that there would be traps in the field that we were headed into.
Dennis: Yes; and here’s the thing, folks—all of you are looking for an authoritative word about what it means to be a person and follow Jesus Christ today—and specifically, what it means to be a man and a woman. Today, we’re going to talk about: “What does that uniquely mean to you, as a woman?”
Bob: Yes; we have for years / for decades, really, seen this understanding of manhood and womanhood as foundational to everything in human relationships.
You have to understand who you are, as man or as a woman, if you’re going to understand marriage. You have to understand who you are, as a man or a woman, if you’re going to understand fatherhood and motherhood. This is not some minor difference that God has created.
Dennis: It’s not a subplot, off to the side.
Dennis: Genesis, Chapter 1, makes it really clear—he said, “In the image of God He created them, male and female…” And so it’s no mistake that the enemy is trying to strike a blow to the image of God by distorting the differences between men and women. There’s a very confused culture today when it comes to understanding, specifically, womanhood.
Bob: And being the shrewd host and co-host that we are, we recognized that, if we were going to talk about this subject, we’d better not make it just the two of us; right? [Laughter]
Dennis: Exactly; so we brought in a beautiful woman—that’s who I’ve been married to for 45 years—who is the grandmother of 23 of our grandchildren.
Dennis: Can you believe that?
Barbara: Twenty-three grandkids is more than I wrap my head around some days.
Dennis: That’s a small nation; you know?
Barbara: It is a small nation; yes.
Dennis: There’s more than one way to take over the world—that’s all I can say. Welcome, Sweetheart.
Barbara: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Bob: And Barbara, this is a subject that—as you look at it in our culture today and as you’ve raised daughters and now have daughters-in-law—this is an area that requires some skillful biblical thinking and navigation.
Barbara: Well, it requires that you know what God says about you first: “What does God say about you, as a woman? What does He say about you, as a person, created in His image?” and “What has He designed you to do? What has He made you to do?—gifted you to do?” I think that has to be the starting place.
The problem is that too many women today have not taken the time to dig into the Bible and find out what God thinks about them, as a woman / as a female, and what He made them to do. So, they pick up cues from other people, and other sources, other voices, other books; and that’s where the confusion comes from.
Bob: So, two decades ago, we sat down with—then, Nancy Leigh DeMoss / now, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth—and we talked to her about this subject of biblical womanhood. Dennis asked her a pretty straightforward question.
Dennis: I think a key question for every mom—and, for that matter, every woman, whether you’re single or married or whether you even have children—but put yourself in this position: “If your daughter came to you and asked you, ‘Mommy, what does it mean to be a woman and not a man?’” Nancy, I want to put that question to you right now: “What if you had a daughter and she asked you that question, how would you answer her?”
Nancy: You know, Dennis, since I was a teenaged girl, I have searched the Scriptures—the Word of God—and also, as I’ve talked with literally thousands of women around the world, come to see that there are certain qualities which, when you put them together, form a portrait of God’s kind of woman. We’ve talked about some of those already: a woman as a helper, as an encourager, as a cheerleader—
—a woman, distinctively, in a role as a servant / a servant of God and of God’s man. We’ve talked about a woman as a nurturer—a mother / a bearer of life. Scripture talks about a woman as a teacher—a teacher of her children / a teacher of younger women.
And then, we read in the New Testament that there are specific qualities that God considers precious and beautiful in a woman. First Peter 3 speaks of her having the internal beauty and radiance of a spirit that is gentle—it is meek / it is quiet—a spirit that trusts in God. Scripture talks about a woman as having a submissive spirit, being willing to come under the covering and the protection of God-ordained authority. Scripture talks about a woman who fears the Lord in Proverbs 31, as a woman who will be praised. So, there’s a dimension of her personal walk with God.
There are a number of passages in Scripture that speak of women in the role of concerned, praying women and how a culture that has been taken over with secularism needs women who are weeping, burdened, praying women.
How we need that in our day!
Scripture talks about a woman as reverencing her husband—honoring him / lifting him up—a woman who loves her husband / loves her children. In addition, there are numerous passages in Scripture that speak of a woman being modest, chaste, [and] pure in her speech, in her behavior, in her clothing. Proverbs speaks of the importance of a woman having the quality of discretion.
But I think so many of these come back to the fact that God made us, as women, to be responders and to allow the men to be the initiators that God created them to be.
Bob: Well again, that’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth from 20 years ago, talking about how the Bible defines womanhood. There are some folks who would chafe a little bit at that last thought—that a woman is to be a responder and a man’s to be an initiator.
Dennis: And I just want to make sure our listening audience, whether male or female, really understands the value of what Nancy just gave you. She gave you a Genesis-to-Revelation high fly-by of womanhood and gave you a glimpse / a snapshot of what the Scriptures talk about; that which is, uniquely, being a woman.
Barbara: And I think that’s a part of what’s missing—is that we don’t have that image really firmly fixed in our minds and in our thinking. So, it makes us susceptible to anything that we hear out there. I think it’d be a great idea to take that list and print it up and put it in your bathroom, or put it in your closet, or somewhere where you could be reminded: “As a woman, this is what God made me to do and to be.”
Bob: Yes; in fact, we put that list together. You can download it when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com—and have it to review and talk about—and say, “Do I agree with this?”
Here’s what I think is the takeaway from what Nancy shared: “Most of our views about masculinity and femininity are probably more shaped by movies and television or by what we read in the magazines and online than by what we read in Scripture. We need to come to a place where our minds are transformed by God’s Word rather than conformed to the culture.”
Dennis: And I would add one thing to that, Bob. I think the Scriptures are, first and foremost, the picture we ought to have of what it means to be a woman / to be a man; but there’s another place you get that image as well. It’s in the home—from your mom / from your grandmother. I think we underestimate the power of a family today and its generational impact of giving young boys and girls images of what it means to be a woman / a man and how the two sexes relate to one another in life’s most intimate relationship, called marriage, and do that for a lifetime and keep your promises. That can be a powerful image of what it means to be woman.
Bob: Our friend, Dr. Robert Lewis, created a definition of masculinity, years ago, that caught on with a number of guys. He talked about what it means to be a real man, and he had those elements outlined for guys. Women came to him and said: “Is there a definition for womanhood? Is there a definition like that we can hang onto and embrace?” He captured what he believes is the essence of biblical womanhood and shared that with us, here, on FamilyLife Today.
Robert: I’d just simply summarize it this way—is that:
What a real woman would be—a real biblical woman—is one who embraces her core callings. Out of those core callings, she chooses wisely; because she’s always keeping those in mind.
As she chooses wisely, she’s going to be confronted with situations that are going to challenge those situations. So, at points, she’s going to have to live courageously—that’s the third mark of true femininity.
And then, in doing that—in living in courage at moments of her life—then, she’s expecting, by faith, that that ultimately is going to be a life that’s rewarded by God.
So, she’s expecting God’s greater reward over a lifetime.
So that becomes this really simple definition that helps them think about their life, all through their life, of: “How am I going to achieve these core callings in their fullest sense?” And they balance their life with that over a lifetime.
Bob: Again, kind of a simple core definition from Dr. Robert Lewis. One of the challenges that he talked about is choosing wisely. Women today are faced with lots of opportunity and lots of choices, and they become overwhelmed by what they’re facing. There are voices, saying, “You can have it all and all at the same time.” They find themselves crushed under that load.
Barbara: What I like so much about Robert’s definition is that he talks about knowing your core roles first. I think that has to be—you have to get that out of the Bible. You have to know what God has designed us to do, as women.
And I agree with you—it is confusing, and women are being crushed by all the choices that are facing them. But I just have to say what I like so much about his definition is—he starts with that the way God made us and what He designed us to do, as women. Then, he calls us to make choices, and to be courageous, and to expect God—which is the exact same way he ends his definition for men.
So that’s where we’re alike. That’s where God wants us, as women, and you, as men, to figure out what He’s designed you for; but we both have the same responsibility on the backside, which is to believe God for that.
Bob: Well, and I think one of the pressures that a lot of wives and moms face today is: “I want to succeed in the marketplace,” “I want to be a great wife,” “I want to be a great mom,” “I want to do this,” “I want to do this.” There is a sense of: “I want to be all I was created to be.”
Barbara: Yes; now.
Bob: “Now, at the same time.”
Barbara: At the same time.
Bob: And as Robert talked about that, he said part of courageous living is saying: “I can’t be all of that right now.” In fact, listen to how he talked about this issue of balance in a woman’s life.
Robert: They’ll say to me: “I just can’t make my whole life work. I can’t fit it in. I’ve tried to fit my career in, and I just feel guilty all the time with my family. So, I need to have a better time management plan,” or “I need my husband to understand me better,” or those kinds of things, where the deeper issue might be that they’re trying to pursue something in life that’s really not God’s best. Because they haven’t really lined up the right priorities, they’re chasing things that are going to constantly create more problems for them.
I find with a lot of women today, you know, there’s even a guilt of, “I’m not spending enough time with my job,” or “…my family,” or those kinds of things—but they can’t decide between the two—because they haven’t decided: “What is the real issue of life here? Is it a job or is it my family?”
Until they prioritize those things or come to a decision about what it’s about, they don’t have that guiding center in order to make the decision. That doesn’t mean they have to quit their job—but they might have to scale back on their job in order to cusp those two—but the world is saying, “You can have it all.”
Bob: Again, that’s Dr. Robert Lewis. That idea that you can have it all has a lot of women just under the pile today.
Barbara: Well, it does. That is the message of today—is that you can do it all and you should be able to do it all. And yet, it’s been interesting—just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about the verse in Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything under heaven, and everything has a season.” I think women today are forgetting that there are seasons to life—that there isn’t one season and one season only, where everything has to be done—but there are seasons in life. This may be the season for investing in your family, and there may be another season for your career.
Dennis: One of the things Barbara’s observing about this generation of young women today is they’re feeling that pressure, it appears, at a record level, just because of the expectations of the culture on them. Even within the Christian community of those who are attempting to follow Christ, they’re thinking: “I can be an author,” “I can be a speaker,” “I can be out there / I can have all this public attention out here, but I can also be a wife and a mom and a keeper of the home.”
Bob: Okay; now, you know, as soon as you say that, there are women, who are going: “Well, you were dad, and a husband, and a writer, and a speaker all at the same time. Why could you do that, but a wife and a mom can’t?”
Dennis: Because Barbara chose what God had called her to be, which was a wife and a mom. If she hadn’t done that, I could not have done it in good conscience; because our family would have been sacrificed on the altar of the accomplishment, the goal, the big objective out there.
Bob: So, Barbara, why didn’t you say to Dennis: “Look, you take care of the kids and manage the household. Let me go be a speaker and writer and all that high-profile stuff that feels affirming, and sexy, and glorious”?
Barbara: Well, the reason I didn’t is because I knew the season principle. I knew there might be a day for me, someday, where I could do that—I didn’t know—but I knew for a fact that God had made me to have children. I mean, biologically, you can’t deny it—women were made to bear children, to nourish them, and nurture them. I knew that that was a short season of their lives and, therefore, my life. I wanted to make sure that I invested the best of my time / the best of those years in raising the children that God gave me.
Now, we definitely parented together; but those early years were largely on my back. But I welcomed that, because I knew God had built me and made me to do that. I wanted to do what God had given me to do / what He had created me to do. I wanted to do it undivided / I wanted to do it without reservation—
—so I fully embraced it, even though I was exhausted and felt like a failure half the time. I saw other women out, having jobs and doing other things. I questioned, sometimes, if I was making the right decision. But I ultimately would go back to the fact that I knew God made me to do this / He called me to do this, and I was trusting Him that He was going to reward my work. If He chose to give me something in another season of life, then He would do that.
Bob: We talked, not long ago, to a young wife and young mom, who is a writer and who has spoken in settings; and she is taking care of her kids. She said, “You know, I’m embracing this season principle.” Courtney Reissig was a guest on FamilyLife Today, and here’s some of what she shared with us.
Courtney: We are created as image-bearers, and we’re created differently because we’re male and female. So, I’m a woman, which makes me different than my husband, who is a man.
But as an image-bearer of God, my image-bearing is played out in a variety of ways—through my writing; through speaking; through leading a Bible study; through being a wife, or a mom, or a daughter, or friend. I’m not reduced to any one of those different roles that I do. I’m still an image-bearer.
I think that’s the uniting force behind all of us—is that we are equally bearing God’s image. We have different callings on our life—at different times that take different shapes in different seasons of our life—and they’re not in competition. If we humble ourselves before what God has called us to, then we’re not in competition with somebody else; and we’re recognizing that we’re fully human, and we’re multi-faceted, and that we’re not any one thing.
So often, I think with women, we reduce women to “wife and mother,” which are good things—I am one, and so I’m thankful for the opportunity and the gift that it is; but I’m not only a wife and a mother—I’m other things as well.
While my mothering might take priority right now because my children are small, there’s coming a day where it will not take priority. So, if I don’t understand that I’m a multi-faceted human being, then I’m going to have a really rude awakening when that mothering role diminishes and I have nothing else to do because I’ve only focused on the one role that God has called me to.
Bob: Again, that’s Courtney Reissig; and that’s what you were saying; right?
Barbara: Yes, and I know Courtney. She is doing, from what I can tell—and I don’t know her super well—but from what I have observed, she’s doing a good job of balancing all of those roles right now in her life. She knows that she’s going to have to be careful that one doesn’t become more important than the other—that her children or her husband / their family doesn’t suffer because of the time she spends on those other things. So you know, again, as I said earlier, she and her husband have to go before the Lord. They have to answer to Him for how they live, how they spend their time, how they raise their children.
It’s Christ that we are to please—not ourselves / not the world—nobody else. If that is our goal—if my number one goal is to please Christ and to serve Him—then, we’re going to be in an okay place, especially if both of us are doing that and both of us are committed to that.
Dennis: You know, there are all kinds of women listening to our broadcast right now—some single, some married, some moms, some empty-nesters, grandparents. Every season you’re in, as a woman, demands a calling / a sense of assignment from God. It demands you be responsible—you fulfill that assignment. And that every one of those seasons / every one of those callings—all of it demands sacrifice. If you’re going to follow Christ, you’re going to deny yourself, you’re going to pick up a cross, [and] you’re going to face really tough times.
I think of all the single parent moms, who listen to our broadcast—and I go, “Man, I do not know how that works!” And many of them don’t know—they’re doing it / they don’t know how it works either—but God is enabling. I just think, “You know, God bless you for your sacrifices on behalf of the next generation and you fulfilling your assignment as unto Jesus Christ.”
Bob: Yes. You know, you stop and think about what we’ve talked about today. Our goal, here, with this conversation is to both encourage and equip women to embrace what it is that God’s called them to. If they’re single women, we want them to understand God’s design for them as women. If they’re wives or moms, there’s an extra component to their understanding of femininity.
But I’m thinking about some of the resources that we have available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center—articles that we have available online.
We want to provide encouragement and help for those listeners, who are saying, “I want to be the woman God’s called me to be.” Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and look at some of the books that are available / some of the articles you can read that all talk about God’s design for you, as women. Keep in mind—we’re going to be talking, next month, about God’s design for men—so we’ll get around to that when we dive in next month. But go to FamilyLifeToday.com to find out more about the resources that are available, both online and for purchase. The website, again, is FamilyLifeToday.com.
If you’re raising a teenage daughter today, I can assure you she is hearing some confusing messages on this whole subject of womanhood. Let me encourage you to take a couple of days and have a getaway with her, where together you go through the Passport2Identity®for Young Women resource that we’ve created. The two of you go through listening to some messages together; working through some stuff in a workbook; and just interacting over what’s at the core of your identity, as a woman / as a Christian:
“What is it that God’s made you to do and to be?” It’s a great getaway. You can find out more about Passport2Identity for Young Women when you go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call if you have any questions about it. If you’d like to order over the phone—1-800-FL-TODAY is the number—that’s 1-800-358-6329 / 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, this subject of manhood and womanhood—masculinity/femininity—these are pretty core issues to our identity / to who we are. There are other issues that are core to who we are as well. In fact, I’m thinking, Dennis, about the book that you’ve just completed—it’s a book called Choosing a Life that Matters. In this book, Dennis gets to some of the key issues that all of us have to grapple with about the choices we face in life and how we respond to those choices.
We’d love to send you a copy of Dennis’s brand-new book. We’re sending it out this month to as many of you will get in touch with us to request it. We’re asking that you’d make a donation, online, when you request the book or that you would call and make a donation over the phone. Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY; and of course, our website’s FamilyLifeToday.com. When you invest in the ministry of FamilyLife, you are making it possible for the reach of this ministry to expand. You’re helping us reach more and more people with practical biblical help and hope for their marriages and for their families.
Again, make an online donation at FamilyLifeToday.com and ask for a copy of Dennis’s new book, Choosing a Life that Matters; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. You can also request the book when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO
Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, we hope you have a great weekend this weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and then we hope you come back on Monday when we’re going to introduce you to a couple—Chris and Stephanie Teague, whose marriage was dead. They had divorced one another, but God had a new-life plan for their marriage. They’ll share their story with us next week. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; A Cru® Ministry.
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