We can’t ignore God’s call on our lives to disciple one another—he has made it too plain. Consider the often-quoted Titus 2:2-5:
“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.”
This isn’t a command only to the grey-haired, elderly women in our churches. It’s a call to you as well, sister—you can be an older woman to someone who is younger, even if you are still considered “young.”
But how do we do this? Those of us who have tried know the awkward feelings that come with discipleship. Those uncomfortable get-to-know-you conversations and the embarrassment as they discuss relevant topics we are oblivious to. And what about their lack of maturity that we find oh-so frustrating at times?
But despite these feelings, we are still called to disciple those who are younger. Here are three beginning steps we can take in discipling younger women.
Start With Your Heart and Life
In order to train others, we need to live godly lives first. We teach people not only with our words, but also with our walk. In Paul’s calling to older women, he begins with their behavior. We must examine our own lives first if we are to train the younger women around us. Discipleship does not require perfection, but it does require a life progressing in godliness.
So check your heart and compare your life to Scripture. Do you live a reverent life? A reverent life is one with chaste and respect. A reverent woman is someone people could and do look up to as an example in godliness and righteous character. Though she still battles sin, a reverent woman is characterized by obedience and repentance.
Do you slander others? This is a temptation we often face as women—to gossip rather than speak what is edifying. We must check our speech to see if it harmful or helpful. Ephesians 4:29 says to “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). We need to ask ourselves if our speech is mostly corrupting or if it builds other up.
Finally, are you self-controlled? Though this passage directly speaks to being a drunkard, we should also consider if we are self-controlled in other areas of our lives. Are we self-controlled in our use of technology, money, hobbies, and eating? A self-controlled life is evidence of a Spirit-controlled life (Galatians 5:22-23).
These are just a few of the commands we can check ourselves with. Paul’s admonition to older women begins with likewise, taking us back to the previous commands given to men as well: To be level-headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. Is this how someone would describe us?
The calling to disciple is not an easy one. It is just as much about the sanctification of the younger woman as it is about our own holiness.
Grow in Your Knowledge of the Word
Because discipleship is also about teaching, as older women we need to be equipped to teach what is consistent with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). Like Timothy, you must “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
This means that we need to be in the Word of God, not just telling the younger women to be. If we are to have a godly life and right doctrine, we need to fill ourselves with Scripture. If we are to set the example, we need to know the Word for ourselves. If we are to equip ourselves and the younger women that we teach, we need Scripture. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
It’s not our words or any man’s wisdom that will bring about change and godliness. Rather, the Word of God will renew minds, make people wise, rejoice the heart, open blind eyes, and convict us of sin (Psalm 19:7-13). Our discipleship must be filled with the Word of God and the accurate teaching of it.
Be Available and Build Involvement
On a more practical level, we need to be available to these younger women and ready to build involvement. My temptation is to wait for the younger women in my church to come running to me on their own without any effort on my part. But that’s usually not how it works out. Discipleship begins with seeking a relationship, and we need to be ready to leave our comfort zone to do that. We need to be willing to make the first move and offer to spend some time with these younger women.
Here are a few practical ways to begin building involvement in younger women’s lives:
1. Volunteer at youth group (and actually talk to them).
2. Start a Bible study for younger women (from your home, church, high school, or college campus).
3. Ask a few girls out to a local coffee shop they enjoy. Ask them questions about what they like, their desires for the future, their life, and what they are learning in the Word.
4. Sit with them at church.
5. Offer help with school work.
Sometimes it can be as simple as walking up to a younger woman and asking if she would be interested in being discipled. Like I said in the beginning, this can be awkward, but if we are going to build relationships with these younger women, we need to be intentional about it.
Resources for Discipleship
Though the Word of God should be our primary resource, there are also an abundance of resources available to help us teach and handle the Word accurately. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. IBCD Free Resource Library. This library is filled with audio session, homework assignments, and videos on a variety of counselling topics. These resources will help you better disciple the younger women around you and give you materials to help them grow as well.
2. Women’s Hope Project Relate Series. The ladies at Women’s Hope Project created a podcast series where they interview people on issues such as abuse, teens, racism, adultery, parenting, and abortion to help equip you to minister to others in these situations.
3. Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. This book expounds Titus 2 and examines how older women can begin discipling the younger, and how younger women can become involved in discipleship.
4. CCEF’s Minibook Series. CCEF has an abundance of minibooks on various counselling issues. These books would be helpful for your discipleship ministry to better equip you in these topics and are a great resource to give to those you are discipling.
5. Treasure Seeker Bible Study Workbook by Brittany Allen. This workbook can help both you and the ladies you are discipling dig deep into the Word of God and apply it rightly to your lives.
Discipleship is never easy, but it is a calling that us women are to fulfill. Together, let’s grow in our obedience in Christ, our knowledge of his Word, and in relationships with the younger women God has placed around us.