My friend, Joy, recently told me about a conversation her family had with author Jerry Bridges. He was preaching at our church’s Sunday service, and Joy’s family invited him to their home for lunch. Joy asked him about how he got into writing and Mr. Bridges told her that he did not publish his first book until he was in his mid-forties. He may have gotten a late start, he told Joy, but he thought it was necessary to have gone through all he had experienced in order to be able to write what God had called him to write.
I, for one, am grateful that Jerry Bridges wasn’t writing books in his twenties. His biblical wisdom is valuable precisely because it has been refined for years in the daily grind of obscure obedience. He didn’t write fresh out of a trial or high off an accomplishment. He learned his lessons slowly, over decades of walking faithfully with God, with no one watching or publishing.
There is a time for living and a time for writing. A time for every season, the wise teacher tells us (Ecc. 3:1-8).
A time for sowing and a time for reaping.
A time for teaching and a time for learning.
A time for speaking publicly and a time for serving silently.
For young women, yours is primarily a time to learn and sow. Young women, full of zeal and overflowing with desires to serve Christ’s kingdom, let me encourage you to channel your energies to learning from older women, to striving after maturity, to seeking out lowly places of service.
Mothers of small children, yours is a season for gathering up seeds of wisdom from older women and planting them in the fertile soil of your family. Each day you stand at the head of an endless row of seeds to be sown—disciplines to be lovingly administered, squabbles to be settled, splinters to be extracted, plates to be cleared, lessons to be taught to little ones. Make it your aim to faithfully sow.
And may I encourage you, young woman, not to despise the sowing time? You may feel as if your kingdom influence is small at best. You may feel as if your time and talents are going to waste. You may feel as if everyone else is teaching and you are still stuck learning. You may feel as if your seeds will never sprout.
But I think, perhaps, that the church needs young women like you most of all. More than young women teachers, we need young women learners. More than young women leaders, we need young women doers. More than young women bloggers and speakers we need young mothers and sisters to raise the next generation in the ways of the Lord.
The church desperately needs young women who are fervently learning and faithfully sowing today so that they can become the older women of tomorrow. If the present dearth of qualified, older women has taught us anything, it has taught us this.
So let me encourage you, young woman. Do not chafe at the learning and do not despair in the sowing. Delight in this season, in this time appointed by our gracious Lord. Toil and struggle, learn and sow, with all his energy that he powerfully works within you (Col. 1:29).
As my kids keep reminding me, the holidays are just around the corner. To give you plenty of time to shop for Christmas, here is our eighth annual list of CJ’s book recommendations. I’m so excited about all of these new books, I might only put books on my Christmas list this year. Enjoy!
2013 at 1:53 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
October 31st was a dark and stormy night here in Louisville and this resulted in a bunch of dark and blurry phone pics. The picture quality can also be blamed on a certain crazy lion that was keeping his picture-taking-mommy very busy. But here ya have it:
What do you recommend to younger woman about getting an older woman to mentor her? I have a very broken relationship with my own mother, and feel like I have been starving my whole life for an older woman to come alongside me and mentor me.
This woman echoes a cry we have heard from countless young women through the years, and I pray this cry reaches the ears of many godly, older women in our churches.
For all of the young women who are so desperate for a spiritual mother, what can you do? What if you don’t know any godly, older, women? Or what if none of them seem to have the time or inclination to mentor you? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Pray and Trust. Ask God to fulfill this desire of your heart. After all, he put it there in the first place! Given remaining pride in our hearts, the fact that we are desperate for wisdom, discipleship, and exhortation is only the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. And God promises to fulfill all our desires for wisdom and righteousness (James 1:5, Matt. 5:6). He will generously provide.
2. Learn a little from a lot (of older women). While it would be wonderful to have a designated mentor, there aren’t always enough godly, older women to go around these days. So make all of the godly older women you know your mentors! Observe their strengths and ask each one if she would be willing to give you counsel at least one time in one area. Ask the prayer warrior to coffee so she can teach you how she prays. Ask the organized woman to come to your home one afternoon and give you some advice. See if the experienced babysitter, or the mother of disciplined school-age children, can come to the park with you and your unruly toddler and offer her counsel. Ask the woman with a strong marriage if she and her husband can spend an evening with you and your fiancé. Create your own personalized discipleship course by drawing on the godly character and experience of many women. Just imagine the wealth of wisdom you could amass in a short time!
3. Don’t waste an “older woman moment.” In other words, don’t despise or overlook even the smallest opportunity to learn from a godly, older woman. Maybe you are seated next to her at a friend’s house for dinner or you run into her in the hallway at church. You can learn life-changing truth in five minutes with a godly woman, so come prepared. Have a list of questions and whenever you have the chance ask a godly woman for a quick word of advice or encouragement. Or send her a short email or message her on Facebook or Twitter. For example, ask a godly woman what she is studying in her daily times in God’s Word, or how she would handle a parenting situation you are dealing with. Like paparazzi chasing a movie star, we should hound the older women in our churches for godly counsel.
4. Go secondhand shopping. Learn vicariously if you can’t learn directly. Ask the godly teenage girl what she appreciates about her mother. Ask your friend who has a godly mentor to share what she has learned from her about walking with God through suffering. Get parenting counsel from another mom who is getting godly counsel from an older woman. Ask any younger woman who has access to an older woman: What have you learned from so and so? What would so and so do in this situation? Like sheaves left in a field after harvest, there is much wisdom to be gleaned secondhand.
5. Be a bookworm. Even if there is a shortage of godly, older women in your church, we also live in an age with unprecedented access to the written word, and thus some of the greatest “older women” of all time. Every one of us can learn from Susannah Spurgeon or Sarah Edwards, Elisabeth Elliot or Nancy Wilson. And you can return to books again and again for wise counsel on godly womanhood. There is much more I could say here, but my friend Jodi Ware has already written a wonderful post on this topic, which I would encourage you to read.
6. Come to learn. Show an older woman that you value her time and her godly wisdom by asking genuine, thoughtful, open-ended questions. Come to her eager to learn and receive instruction, even course-correction at times, not merely validation or affirmation. It helps to plan your questions ahead of time, and avoid questions that are not really questions at all, but make it awkward for an older woman to share a different perspective. Remember, older women have a unique calling to teach us how to be godly women. Let’s make it easy for them to do just that.
7. Become an older woman. Take what you learn from godly, older woman and apply it. Be faithful in the small things, today. Sit at the Savior’s feet and serve others in the humble place God has called you. Sow now, so you can reap later. If you take to heart the wise counsel and biblical wisdom of women who fear the Lord, and apply what they teach, you will become a woman with proven character and a fruitful lifestyle. And God-willing, some day in the near future, a young woman won’t have to look too far for a godly older woman to mentor her, for you will be the mother who raised her or the spiritual mother who is right beside her all the way. May God raise up a generation of godly women to teach the younger women “what is good” (Titus 2:3).
As promised, here are a few practical suggestions for how to prevent and handle public tantrums. Some may be more helpful than others, but these are a few ideas from Mom that have served my sisters and me with going on ten toddlers now.
1. Stay Home
Your child won’t throw a public tantrum if you are not out in public, right? In all seriousness, if a small child is frequently throwing public tantrums, this is a sign that he probably needs more consistent discipline and instruction at home.
This was always my mom’s wise advice when one of my children would start to disobey a lot in public: it was time to stay home for a while and focus on child training. I would clear my calendar of play dates, make arrangements to run errands after my kids went to bed, and except for church, hunker down for some focused child-training time. Often, after only a few days, I would begin to see dramatic improvement.
Being a mom means missing out on a lot so that we can give lots of attention to our children. But the sacrifice is worth it.
2. Train to go
While at home, we would train to go out. The idea is to choose a place or situation where your child most often disobeys, or where you most need her to obey. Then practice “church,” “grocery shopping,” “play dates,” “sit cheerfully,” or “time to go.”
For example, my sister Kristin trained her young boys to sit in their stroller or (when they got older) hold onto the stroller, by taking daily walks around the block. Another friend I know practiced “church” with her kids by having them sit quietly in chairs and listen to part of a sermon or sing a worship song. Or you can do a daily role-play of “time to go” where you practice and praise a cheerful, obedient, response to that command.
The more you require self-control and train to obey at home, the more likely you are to prevent public tantrums.
3. Prepare to go
Choose your time wisely – Avoid going out when your small child is especially hungry or tired. Now you may have to go to the grocery store for milk or attend a family wedding over what is usually nap time, but in general, think ahead so you can avoid creating unnecessarily tempting situations for your children.
Bring distractions – I always used to bring a snack from home for the kids to munch on at the grocery store, coloring for an evening church meeting, or toys to play with while I made a return. These are not bribes to elicit good behavior, but rather distractions to minimize temptation in the first place.
Talk to them – if your child is old enough to understand, explain what will happen and how you expect them to obey. For example: “We, are going to the park with your friends and then we will come home for lunch. When mommy says it is time to go, you are to come right away with a happy heart.” Then you can have them repeat it back to be sure they understand: “So what do you do when Mommy says time to go?”
4. Maintain authority
By keeping them contained – Keeping a child strapped in a stroller, cart, or high chair, or requiring them to hold your hand or sit in a chair teaches them self-control and obedience. It also alleviates all kinds of temptations that crop up when we allow children to run free in stores, restaurants, or meetings. My sisters and I found that consistent training and enforcement in this area eventually made it possible to take our children almost anywhere, and our children became happier and more contented as well.
By limiting commands – Pick your battles in public so you can be consistent in your authority. So, for example, it might not be wise to insist a two-year-old say “Hi” to a friend you meet in the store if you know they probably won’t comply and you can’t follow through.
And try distraction before instruction. So if a small child begins to get whiney, tell them a story or point out something fun instead of starting with “No whining.” Our goal: as much as possible to eliminate situations where our children can defy our authority without appropriate discipline.
By going home – My mom said that when we were little, she left many a grocery cart full of groceries and took us home, rather than give in to our demands. I remember I often had to leave playgroups or parks early if my son would not obey. Now of course we can’t always leave a public place early; but as much possible, we want to demonstrate to our children that they cannot get their own way by throwing a tantrum. Over time, they will get the point.
5. Don’t forget to laugh
Janelle once told me about a time she had to leave early from dinner at someone’s house because her daughter was throwing a tantrum. Janelle was being consistent to discipline at home, so she chose to laugh at herself and the situation—a great expression of humility and put the hosts at ease as well. And laughter helps to fight off despair. You are probably going to laugh about this tantrum someday. It will do your soul good to start now.
Oh, and one more thing—encourage, encourage, encourage when a child obeys in public. This will greatly increase incentive for a tantrum free next time!
None of this is easy, I know. Motherhood is hard work, and most of the time it is extremely hard work. There is no trick or formula for instantly eliminating public tantrums, and some kids will be more difficult to train than others. But the God who has blessed us with children and called us to teach and train them will give us grace to persevere and one day bring about the sweet fruit of self-control in their little lives. Let’s look to our Savior for help and hope as we persevere.