I joked with several people this past week that I have recently been described as a “seasoned woman’ more than I care to count. I’m working toward embracing that description. My friend Kathy told me it meant I am ‘spicy’—she assured me that was a good thing. (I’m also working on trusting comments made by friends!)

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Here’s what I do trust: Ps 92:12-15 which says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

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What this scripture says to me is that age does not limit service to God. The scriptural principle found in Psalm 92 is that we are to celebrate the process of growing older, to increase in usefulness to His Kingdom and grow stronger because of deep spiritual roots. It’s interesting to note that age makes other things decay, but age makes a palm tree flourish and the best fruit comes from an older tree.

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The temptation for a seasoned woman is to say I’m done. I’ve gotta tell you, I can’t do that. I think that’s why I have such a hard time with the label. Last week a 90-year-old woman was in a workshop I led at a conference for women. She stood and testified of God’s grace still at work in her life and there was no doubt we were all blessed by her declaration.  I may be seasonsed, but hearing this woman share let me know there’s much more spice to add to the mix.

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Gratefully enjoying the spice life has brought…so far.

©Brenda Pace, 2010
Today I welcome my friend Victoria Robinson as a guest blogger. Victoria is an outstanding speaker, Bible teacher and mentor to many young women. Victoria is also an avid reader and I am honored to share a book review on a recent book she has found meaningful. Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom Victoria!

Over the years I have enjoyed many aspects of being involved in women’s ministry, and one of these is mentoring. The desire for discipleship and spiritual mothering seems to be the heart’s cry of many young women. With intentionality and lots of prayer effective intergenerational ministry can happen. It can even happen in military communities amidst all the moves and changes.  What a blessing to share with the next generation the truths of scripture and the biblical principles that compose a walk of faith!

W.O.W.!

In this season of being a seasoned woman I have enjoyed many enriching relationships with younger women.  There is an amazing work of God in the lives of seasoned women and younger women alike when they are committed to a mentoring relationship. Some of the young women in the women’s ministry in which I am involved  have called the older women “W.O.Ws.” W.O.W. is an acronym for Women of Wisdom!  The concept is that every woman needs a “W.O.W” in her life!
In the book Spiritual Mothering, author Susan Hunt explains the mandate, the model and the method for a mentoring relationship. Using scripture and personal testimonies, Susan encourages both the mature woman to step out in faith to mentor and the younger woman to be teachable. In Susan’s words, spiritual mothering happens when, “a woman possessing faith and spiritual maturity enters into a nurturing relationship with a younger woman in order to encourage and equip her to live for God’s glory.”
The Mandate
The central scripture for God’s mandate to mentor is from Titus 2:3-5: Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live…to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
The Model
The model Susan cites for mentoring is the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus. She describes Mary’s visit to Elizabeth while pregnant with Jesus and says, “When women do for other women what Elizabeth did for Mary, I believe we will see young women burst forth in lives of praise to God.”
The Method
The method for mentoring is found in Hebrews 10:24-25:  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Considering one another, spurring one another on, meeting together, and encouraging one another all describe the spiritual mothering process.
Every time I receive an email or a phone call that starts with,” Momma Victoria” my heart jumps with joy and expectation for how God is going to bless both of us with more of God’s plan and God’s purpose for women!
©Victoria Robinson, 2010
I have  met women who struggle with the transition of growing older–in fact, I am one of them! On the occasion of turning __ ?I faced unfulfilled dreams and found myself questioning the future. The process of getting from there to here*  came through deep prayer and reflection. Here are some things that have been helpful in the process:
  • The study of scripture on the topic of growing old.  Reflecting on the lives of biblical women who were older, such as Sarah, Naomi, Elizabeth, and Anna have been helpful.  These women continued to serve God with enthusiasm and purpose as they advanced in years.
  • Adjustment of my attitude. Life is too short to hold on to negative emotions. It is essential to forgive freely.
  • Establishing and revisiting goals–I think in terms of the future. I ask myself what do I want to be or do in 5, 10, 20 years? I remind myself of goals I have  set and  things I would possibly regret if I did not pursue. One of those goals for me was continued education. I completed a seminary degree as a tangible illustration of taking a step forward.
  • Investment in those things in life that are eternal: people and God’s Word. My husband and I have been intentional in enriching our marriage and  have developed new rituals to promote closeness. I strive to develop creative ways to relate to my adult children and my grandchildren. I am committed to deepen relationships with friends and often do this through involvement in women’s Bible study.
  • I remind myself that spiritual gifts do not cease. The words of Billy Graham ring true, “There is no retirement mentioned in the Bible” (Curry, 2003). In a spiritual sense ‘a woman’s work is never done’!
Midlife years can be the most productive and enjoyable years. Scripture promises we can go from ‘strength to strength’ (Psalm 84:7) and ‘glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). I desire to help women “reflect the goodness of God through the joyful acceptance (and transformation) of all things” (Stafford,31), and help them be able to say like Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
My response: Praise the Lord! I’m another year older!
*Here=Content and dare I say it? A hint of excitement for the future! I continue to be ‘in process.’
Resources:
Erin Curry, Mission San Diego with Billy Graham marks 413th crusade in half century. Baptist Press, posted on May 8, 2003.
Stafford, Tim, The Old-Age Heresy. Christianity Today (September 16, 1991), 30-31.
©Brenda Pace, 2010

Proud to be part of this amazing leadership team!

April is my birthday month and it always brings with it some reflection. I’m really working on embracing the titles and descriptions of “seasoned”, “older”, “Titus II“, and “mentor.” I have a dear young person in my life that told me when he was 3 years of age that I would never be old because I was too short! Short or not, the age scale is moving upward and I want to embrace these roles and live them to their truest fulfillment.
This spring and summer I have an opportunity to take a further step in that journey as I have the privilege to be part of a dynamic leadership training team. The team is a great mix of women from a variety of stages in life, denominational backgrounds and leadership experience. I’m considering my role on the team at my age and stage in life and have thought about what it means to serve in the capacity of a mentoring leader. As I “grow up” I want to be a leader who:
  • Is enthusiastic and interested–Enthusiasm cannot be taught, but it can be caught. A mentor who is enthusiastic about her relationship with God and her ministry calling will communicate that attitude through her words and actions. A mentor who exhorts will take the time to get to know what is going on in the lives of those she is influencing. Asking good open-ended questions is a great way to make this happen and it  cannot be undervalued.  A fundamental principle of teaching  modeled by Jesus is meeting people where they are in order to guide them where they need to be. Discovering areas where motivation is needed can come through the asking of good questions.
  • Depends on prayer–The mentor who depends on prayer will be strengthened both personally and relationally. One author wrote that mentoring is not an “assembly line process.” For the Christian, mentoring is spiritual labor and requires spiritual warfare. The enemy of our soul does not want to see more faithful followers of Jesus. A wise mentor will recognize that it is only the power of the Holy Spirit who can bring transformation in the life of another. No greater model for this can be found than Jesus laboring in prayer on behalf of his disciples and those who would come after in John 17. A life that is characterized and strengthened by prayer will overflow into the lives of those we mentor.
  • Is intentional about understanding a younger generation–Personally, I think  the church in general has created an environment that is not conducive to mentoring. Mentoring is something that happened naturally in cultures/society of past generations. Churches need to be more intentional to teach about the importance of mentoring. There needs to be a challenge put forth for older people to seek out those who are younger, and vice versa. I would love to see churches provide opportunities (SS classes, sermons, leadership requirements that younger/newer must be paired with older leader, etc.) for this type of relationship to develop. Too often churches are segregated according to age; as a result there are few opportunities to build cross-generational relationships. It is important to remember that mentoring is not a program, but rather it is a relationship. It’s not about match-making, but in the church it is about creating a culture that is conducive to the development of relationships that provide opportunities for biblical mentoring to take place.
  • Is willing to be vulnerable—In a mentoring relationship, there is danger to project the best of one’s self. Leadership trainees need to see authenticity. They need to see that there are struggles even in those they consider “mature.” The need to see how a mature Christian deals with those struggles—mistakes and all. C. S. Lewis said it this way: “Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.”
What’s your view of being (or having) a mentor leader?
©Brenda Pace, 2010