Sisters–A Relationship of Unity
About the Guest
Are sisters born or made? Author Susan Hunt reminds women of their ultimate purpose--to glorify God, and calls for women to be pillars in their families and communities, exhibiting godly qualities like gratitude, mercy, grace and love to one another.
Susan HuntSusan Hunt is a mother and grandmother, a pastor’s wife, and the former Director of Women’s Ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America. Holding a degree in Christian education from Columbia Theological Seminary, she is coauthor of Women’s Ministry in the Local Church.
Are sisters born or made?
Sisters–A Relationship of Unity
Bob: If you have a daughter who is hearing what you’re saying about what it means to be a godly young woman, but she just isn’t embracing it, what do you do as a parent? Here’s author and speaker Susan Hunt:
Susan: My first word would be to pray and pray. Not just for God to change her behavior. Pray for the power of the gospel deep in her heart and in your own heart. Ask the Lord to increase your hope that He is going to work in that child’s life, in His time and in His way. The hope of the gospel is what we hold out. We never give up hope. Our hope is in the Lord Jesus.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to focus today on how we help younger women embrace God’s design for what it means to be a true woman. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, I just love our guest this week. I remember the first time Susan Hunt was with us on FamilyLife Today and I think we talked about Titus 2 mentoring the first time you came.
Susan: Yes, we did.
Bob: And we talked about. . .
Dennis: I think if you slit her wrists, she would hemorrhage. . .
Bob: Titus 2.
Dennis: Titus 2!
Bob: We talked about your home being a place of grace one time. We talked about the book that you wrote for kids, which I love. You and – is it your son?
Susan: Our son.
Bob: You wrote a book for kids called Big Truths for Little Kids
Susan: Little kids.
Bob: It’s a wonderful story book that builds basic Bible truth into the hearts of young kids. Every time we’re together – in fact, you were talking earlier about your granddaughters wanting to bring their friends over to your house. When I’m in Atlanta, I want to come over to your house. . .
Susan: Oh, please do.
Bob: . . . and just hang out.
Susan: I love that!
Bob: I do; I just love being around our guest.
Dennis: Well, welcome back, Susan.
Susan: Thank you.
Dennis: It really is good to have you. Susan Hunt, in case you don’t know what Titus 2 is talking about, is all about older women mentoring younger women.
Bob: There’s a little bit in there about older men mentoring younger men, too.
Dennis: There is, there is. But primarily what Susan has given her life to is equipping the mentors and actually mentoring them so they can better empower younger women. This occurs at all ages. You’re talking about some mentors being as young as 20, 25. Right, Susan?
Susan: Even younger. I really think we need to give our high school girls a vision of their responsibility to pre-teen girls and to little girls. Because Titus 2 doesn’t give us an age, and I think it’s about all women.
Bob: I think you’re right, and I think the smart youth pastor at the local church doesn’t just figure out, “How can I put on the next program that’s going to be exciting for kids?” I mean, that’s good. It’s good to have the retreats and the fun nights and all of that, but I would take those senior high kids and I would start training them and involving them in the children’s ministry once a month or something so that it’s part of the natural flow of their lives.
I think they come alive with the responsibility of teaching and discipling younger kids. When they have to bear that responsibility, first of all they have to learn – you know the best learner is the one who has to prepare to teach. But, then, when they get to interact with those kids and see those kids respond, something clicks in their life that ignites a passion in them.
Susan: It really does. This is so biblical. We are a family. We are the family of God. The church should look like a family. So often we isolate our teenagers away from the family.
Susan: One of the things we do in the leader guide for this material is to give example after example after example of ways to do that: how to get the girls involved in the lives of younger girls; how to get them praying for the younger girls; how to get them to begin to cultivate relationships with older women. For example, interview questions for them to go and interview some older women. Just many different ways that they can get involved in those relationships.
Bob: Your great passion is to see women at every age understand what it means to be a pillar, right?
Bob: And that’s from Psalm 144?
Susan: Psalm 144:12, “Our daughters will be like pillars, carved to adorn a palace.”
Bob: And you had a living illustration of that with your granddaughter not long ago.
Susan: I did. We love to take our grandchildren on a trip to Washington, D.C. just to see the historical sites. And so we had taken our granddaughter, Mary Kate, and we were in the Capitol Building doing the tour. We went first of all to the main floor, and you see the magnificent rotunda.
Then they took us down to the basement, and the guide pointed out one area and said, “This is the very center of this building. It is the center of Washington, D.C.” But as she was telling us about it, I saw something very different. I took Mary Kate’s hand and I pulled her back and said, “Tell me what you see.”
Well, around that spot – that center spot – there are two circles of huge pillars, supporting pillars. Mary Kate grinned at me and she said, “Our daughters will be like pillars, carved to adorn a palace.”
Dennis: I wonder where she had heard that?
Susan: I just wonder!
She is well indoctrinated.
But I pointed it out to her, and I said, “Mary Kate, never forget this picture. Think about that rotunda. Then think about the fact that if these unseen pillars begin to weaken, this entire structure is in jeopardy.”
I think that’s the picture that we need to have of the family, of the church, and of culture. If our women begin to weaken, everything is in jeopardy.
Dennis: There is no question women are powerful in a culture, and in a nation’s life. If they don’t perform their function and be godly women, that nation will be weakened. That’s what I fear is happening today.
We don’t really have a call to, first of all, beginning with the older women, reach down to younger ladies and disciple them and mentor them and build into their lives. So, as a result, you’ve got a group of younger ladies who are being barraged by the culture, as you said earlier.
They’re not hearing a godly voice that’s carving into their soul what biblical womanhood really looks like.
Susan: And I think that the language that Scripture gives us of the life-giver – Eve, meaning life-giver – is such graphic language. It just immediately brings to your mind the pictures of being a life-giver in a relationship or sucking the life out of a relationship. That’s what self-centeredness does. It sucks the life out of the relationships around us. It’s the relationships that are then the builders of families, and of churches, and of nations.
We have such a wonderful message to give our girls. We have a wonderful gospel to give. The gospel is life-giving!
Bob: Susan, I was with a group of high school girls a number of years ago. These were girls in the 11th grade – girls and guys. I was asking them what their vision was for the future. “What do you see yourself doing in, I don’t know, ten years?”
It was interesting as we went around the room, almost every girl in the room – I think every girl in the room – when she was asked that question defined her vision for her future in vocational terms.
Bob: She was talking about what she wanted to study at college and what kind of a career she was hoping for. I walked away thinking nobody was, at least in the context of that group, willing to say, “I hope that I am married and maybe have a child.”
Then I remember talking to two college professors who teach Home Ec at college, which is kind of a lost art for college students. I said, “How many Home Ec majors do you have?” They said, “Not many, but we always have the freshmen girls over to our house for a tea and to get to know them.” They said, “We ask the girls the same question. We ask them, ‘What do you see yourself doing in ten years?’”
They said almost all of the girls in this Christian college were saying, “Well, we would hope to be married and have kids.” Then they asked, “Why aren’t you a Home Ec major?” One of them said, “My dad said, ‘I’m not going to spend $80,000 for an education for you to learn how to be a wife and a homemaker. You’re going to learn a marketable skill if I’m going to invest that kind of money.”
You really look at this culture, and we have devalued the pillar role that women play in a society. I’m not here to say that you can’t have any life outside of the home, but we’ve devalued the essentialness of those home relationships. Being a wife, being a mom, being a godly influence in your family.
Susan: We really have and I think, too, that when we do talk about it, too often we talk about it in behavioral terms rather than in heart terms and seeing the heart of the issue. What it really comes back to, and with this material what we keep bringing the girls back to in everything is, “Our purpose is to glorify God.”
That is the essentialness of being a pillar. How do we glorify God by extending His kingdom? And we do that as our various functions harmonize together. For the women, whether it’s in the workplace or in the church or in the home, we do bring a unique ability to be life-givers in these relationships.
Dennis: You talk about a woman leaving a legacy by being a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, a wife, a mother, and a pilgrim. There are six relationships that God gives most women, not all. Most women will go through life in nearly all of those six.
Susan: Actually, in all six, because we don’t limit it to, for example, being a biological mother, but also a spiritual mother. Every woman has the capacity to nurture other women.
Bob: When you talk about a woman being a daughter, you really define her legacy around a single word, and the word is gratitude.
Bob: You say that what’s at the heart of being a daughter – and, again, it’s the daughter of a biological mother, but also a daughter of God – that daughterness ought to be characterized by gratitude. Unpack that a little bit for us.
Susan: Well, that’s the relationship where we begin, because it’s talking about being a daughter of the King. As our girls understand that they are God’s daughter and that the response to that should be gratitude, it also determines how they respond as a daughter to their mothers and to older women in the church. It is a response of humble gratitude, which means a teachable spirit to learn from these older women in our lives. Whether it’s our biological mother or our spiritual mothers, it all goes back to that relationship with the Lord.
Dennis: Barbara wrote a book on gratitude. She just thinks that we need to be heightening this theme in all of our families. It’s one of the most important character qualities, not only at Thanksgiving. It ought to be true of every young lady as she grows up, but the nature of the teenage years is not gratitude. They have to be trained. Back to the illustration you use of carving a pillar.
Susan: We all have an entitlement mentality. Just our sinfulness bends us in that direction. Our teenagers today think they deserve a car at 16. So we have to help them look through all of that and to really help them see the power of the gospel – to see themselves in light of a glorious, majestic God Who has stepped into our world, Who has come to live among us and to redeem us. Until we get that straight, there’s not that humility, there’s not that gratitude. And that’s really the starting point.
Bob: In the same way that being a daughter should inspire a heart of gratitude, you talk about the relationship of being a sister. Once again, this can be a biological sister or sisters in Christ. That should inspire a response of unity. Of course, I’m thinking of sibling rivalry which is the opposite of unity and that can happen in a family or a church.
How do we help impress the idea of unity being a character quality of sisters in Christ?
Susan: Again we’ve got to start with the biblical principle. We have to teach them Scripture. So with each principle that we have here, we start back with what does Scripture teach us about this?
Here, we’re really talking about our adoption into God’s family. The more that they understand that we, who were strangers and aliens, have been adopted into the family of the King, and that our unity is not just because it’s a nice thing to be nice to each other. It’s not “change your attitude and love your sister,” but this is a gospel grace.
So we teach them to go to the cross and pray, “Lord, I’m really annoyed with my little sister right now. Give me grace to love her. I’m really annoyed with that girl in the youth group. Give me the grace to love her.”
So we teach them that and the more they understand and the more they begin to see God actually doing that in their heart, they become excited about the process.
Bob: If we separate that from the cross and from the gospel, and just say, “God wants you to be nice to your sister or to the other girl in the youth group,” what happens to the girl who pursues that apart from understanding the gospel?
Susan: She becomes very tired. It is absolutely exhausting through self-effort to try to live in line with the gospel.
Susan: Or she becomes very frustrated and bitter and rebellious. So we’ve just got to continually take them back to the gospel.
Bob: And if she achieves, she becomes self-righteous.
Susan: Oh, absolutely, and very judgmental.
Dennis: I want to go to that rebellious daughter for a moment, because there are moms, and for that matter, dads, who are listening right now who would say, “You know, Susan, I would love to have this kind of mentoring relationship with my daughter, but she’s really angry; she’s really pushing back and doesn’t like my authority and doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
Give that young mom some hope as she encounters that kind of a rebellious spirit in her daughter.
Susan: Our hope is in the Lord Jesus, so my first word to her would be to pray and pray and know that this is God’s instrument to refine you and to build up your faith and draw you closer to Himself. Also, remember that He loves that child even more than you do.
Pray, not just for God to change her behavior. Pray for the power of the gospel deep in her heart and in your own heart. Ask the Lord to increase your hope that He is going to work in that child’s life in His time and in His way. We never give up hope. The hope of the gospel is what we hold out.
So, I just cannot overstate the importance of prayer. Then I would also pray specifically that God will bring people into her life to speak truth to her.
Susan: She may not be hearing me right now, but maybe there will be others. So pray that God will bring them into her life and that He will prepare her heart for them.
Dennis: I would agree with the emphasis on prayer. I think there may be opportunities in the midst of dealing with a rebellious child where you may want to go to either an older sibling or a friend who does have that relationship that you’re talking about. Go to them and say, “Would you seek my daughter out? Would you befriend her and interact with her and, in a non-judgmental way, call her back to obedience to Jesus Christ?”
There may be some older daughters in your family that you can deploy in the battle. You get on your knees and let them do the hard work of battling for your child’s soul.
Bob: Well, and then the Scriptures say you are not to return evil for evil. So when that daughter is angry or shouting, you don’t return evil for evil. Instead, it says, you bless. That is so counterintuitive – to show mercy, grace, love to somebody who is battling against you – but the giving of a blessing is a part of what God can often use to soften the heart of a rebel.
Dennis: And if you do make an error and yell back – moms can do that, you know? If you do that, seek forgiveness from God first, and then go to your daughter and say, “Forgive me.” It may be that God would use your own humility and your own broken and contrite spirit to reach out to your daughter.
What we’ve been talking about today is the assignment that I believe God gives all women. I think every woman ought to have a mentor. I think every woman ought to be a mentor. So the question is, “Who is your mentor?” and “Who is your mentee? Who are you training? Who are you building into?”
For a lot of the moms who are listening to us today, their daughters and their sons are who they are mentoring right now. But there may be a season of life where there’s capacity added back to your schedule and you can begin the process of building into a young lady’s life that you have a good relationship with. Don’t miss that assignment because I personally think today one of the big problems with teenagers, especially teenaged young ladies is that we are not challenging them with a big enough vision and mission for their lives.
Susan: Oh, I agree.
Dennis: The gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate vision and mission—to live for Him, to obey Him and proclaim Him in their generation.
Bob: We talk a lot about the fact that a pond that’s not fed by some water source and doesn’t have some flow through – that pond gets stagnant. It just gets yucky! But if something’s pouring in and if something’s pouring out, then that pond stays fresh. That’s what our lives need to be. We need to be drinking in from one place and pouring out somewhere else in order for our lives to be fresh and healthy.
What you’ve done, Susan, is to give older women tools that they can use so that they can be pouring out of their own life experience, but also pouring out from what the Scriptures say as they engage with younger women.
We’ve got the curriculum in our FamilyLife Resource Center – Becoming a True Woman While I Still Have a Curfew. That’s the first in a series of books that you’ve put together for older women to use with younger girls and young teenagers. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about that curriculum. We have both the leader’s guide and the student guides in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com or call us toll free at 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329; 1-800-F as in “family,” L as in “life,” and then the word “today.” When you get in touch with us, ask about the Becoming a True Woman curriculum and someone on our team will let you know what’s available and how you can get it sent to you.
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And we want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. Susan Hunt’s going to be here again. We’re going to talk tomorrow about how we can cast a vision for biblical womanhood by helping women understand that this world is not all there is. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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