When I was in elementary school, all the teachers liked me; I was funny, smart, and cute. I could get away with all kinds of mischief, and I did. I took full advantage of my adorable little face that kept me out of trouble.
I have seen several grown women in the church do the same thing. They sow seeds of rebellion, doubt, and divisiveness among young and undiscerning women, and they get away with it because they have the outward appearance of godliness. They creep and scheme, and they prey on impressionable young women who are desperate to have an older woman in their lives. Jesus warned us about these wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we forget that His warning doesn’t apply only to men in the pulpit.
In Proverbs, Solomon repeatedly emphasizes the importance of finding wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22…). I fear that as we seek to apply the Titus 2 commandment (Titus 2:3-5) to seek counsel of older women in the church, we may forget the importance of using discernment as we look for older women to give us counsel. We must consider the choices these women have made, and the outcome of their lives. (This is not to say the women from whom we seek counsel can’t have made mistakes in their lives; after all, we all make mistakes. However, do they recognize their mistakes as mistakes, and have they learned from them?)
Practicing discernment when choosing our counselors and advisors helps us to examine our own hearts. Would we look to ourselves for counsel and advice? Would we make good counselors for younger women seeking wisdom and growth in godliness? People all around us — in our churches, in our families, in our neighborhoods — are watching us. What is our life saying? Are we adorning the Gospel and living in joyful obedience, or do we make the Christian life look like one of drudgery?
It is obvious to mothers how much influence they have on their kids’ lives. We all, mothers or no, have great influence on others. A friend at Bible study once told me, “You have no idea how much mothering you do.” She said this because my husband and I work with college kids, and we also have nieces and nephews and assorted other younger relatives. And we have friends who have kids. And we have neighbors, and young people who serve us at restaurants. Young people of all kinds are watching us. Young women are especially watching me, seeing how I interact with my husband, friends, family, and strangers.
So live like you are being watched — not just because it is a good way to examine your heart, but because you are! How you live your life will have a profound impact on the families and churches of tomorrow.