I like to be independent. I like to make my own decisions. I don’t want to be seen as following the crowd. I also don’t like to ask for help. I like to be self-sufficient; running on my own power, my own skills, my own abilities. Can you relate? We don’t like to admit our needs. This comes from our ever-fighting pride.
But entering motherhood, my pride has taken a smack to the head. I’m a first-time mom and, to be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing. I didn’t babysit growing up, and I didn’t have any younger siblings. I worked at summer camps, but that was no comparison to being a mom. When I saw that pregnancy test light up, recognized my growing bump, felt those tiny kicks in my belly, and watched that wiggling baby on the ultrasound screen, I knew I had a lot to learn.
It has been said that each believer needs a Timothy, Barnabas, and Paul in their life. That is, someone to mentor, someone to be a close companion, and someone who is older and mature in the faith. I am realizing that motherhood is no different. To grow and flourish as a mom, to learn to be a Christ-centered mother, I need fellow moms of various stages and ages. I need younger women to mentor, mom friends who are striving through the same season as me, and older mothers who can lead me. This is Christ’s beautiful design for his church. He lays it out in Titus 2:3-5:
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They 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.”
To even the newest mom, there is someone younger than you who has not yet walked the same pathways. There’s a woman who has yet to have children but is considering it; there’s a mother in the early stages of pregnancy; there’s a mom who has no children in her arms but has carried them in her womb for a short time; there’s a mother who is in the toddler stages; there’s a 16-year-old mom-to-be abandoned by her boyfriend who is terrified of what life is going to look like now.
Wherever you are, at whatever age or stage, there’s another mom who is either younger or less mature in the faith than you. There is someone you can come alongside and disciple. There’s a fellow mom who is struggling and feels lost with many questions and little direction. There’s a mom who could use an older woman like you in her life.
And don’t forget—you need her too. This younger woman will keep you with your nose in the Word of God as she asks you tough questions about how various issues of motherhood works out in the Christian walk. She will keep you studying diligently as you strive to accurately teach Scripture to her. She will also keep you humble, reminding you that you don’t have all the answers yet, and there are unresolved questions in your mind too. In both these ways, she will keep directing your wayward gaze back to Christ.
Every mom also needs a friend to walk with through this sinful world, with all its thorns and thistles, as she navigates how to be a God-glorifying mother. Even Paul often brought companions with him on his mission trips or asked people to visit him in prison. God used those people in Paul’s life to encourage and support him. They met his physical needs (Philippians 2:30; 4:18), his spiritual needs (Colossians 4:10-11), and served alongside of him (Acts 13:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:11).
In the same way, you need fellow moms in your life who are there right alongside of you. These women can be the shoulder to cry on when you’ve had a hard day. You can work together to apply the gospel to your current situation that you are both facing. You understand each other well because you are both facing similar circumstances. You can go to each for advice. You can have those deep chats while your children play together in the room. We need these fellow moms to walk hand-in-hand with as we grow in motherhood.
Our sinful nature will see these moms as competition rather than companions. We will compare and hold ourselves up against them, either to their detriment or our own. We lose sight of our union in Christ and instead start competing and judging one another wrongly. Friend, resist that temptation. Refuse to be a part of the “Mommy Wars” and instead strive to live in harmony with these women and be an encourager to them. Seek to learn from them. Learn to set aside your desires to serve them. Put off your pride and admit your need for their companionship.
Looking back to the passage in Titus, we see that we also need older mothers. These are the women who have gone before us in raising children, tending their homes, and loving their husbands. These are the women who have spent many years studying their Bibles and living out its message in their daily lives. They have learned what the gospel says about their mundane work and how to honour Christ with the menial chores. They have gone through the baby years, the toddler times, and seasons of teenagers and adulthood.
These are the older women of Titus 2 who will teach and guide you. She will set an example by her humble behavior, her honourable speech, and discipline. She will teach you what is good, and how to love your husband and children like Christ. Because of her teaching and your obedience, the Word of God will not be reviled. The older women in your life have much wisdom to share from their years and experiences. Respect them, and desire to learn from them.
Your tendency might not be to be a respectful learner. In our sin, we often look down on the older women in our churches as irrelevant, boring, stubborn, and unlearned to the “new” and “better” ways of motherhood. Maybe in some cases they are, but I believe there is at least one elderly lady in your church worth listening to. Watch for these women. Examine their lives by Scripture. And then approach them with humility to learn—ask them to come over for a cup of coffee, or go out for a walk. Ask them a question. And pray that God will help you cultivate a Titus 2 relationship.
A Practical Example
I haven’t learned this structure from Scripture alone. I’ve had the privilege of watching it worked out in the daily life of my beautiful pastor’s wife. I’ve watched her respectfully and humbly come to the older women in our church with questions and a learner’s heart. Much of what she knows about being a housewife and cooking was gleaned from older women in her life, such as her grandmother or the older ladies in our church.
I’ve watched her laugh and fellowship with the women her age in our church. She shares life with these women, having them over for meals and planning playdates with their children. I’ve watched as she’s both been supported and supported them.
Finally, I’ve had the honour of being her friend and learning from her. As I observe her chaste, her Christ-like parenting, her faithful endurance, her warm hospitality, her committed housekeeping, and her love for God’s Word, I’ve grown. She patiently answers my many questions, and strives to set a godly example for me. God has truly blessed me with a church full of mothers who love and serve the Lord. I hope to live the same Titus 2 life as a mother that she has so exemplified for me.