The Value of Mentors
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Barbara Rainey, Karen Loritts, Mary Kassian, Holly Elliff, and Carolyn McCulley talk about the value of mentoring.
Michelle: Have you ever been in a disagreement—with a friend, or coworker, or spouse—and you wanted your own way, and you didn’t want to let up at all? Then your conscience was pricked by the Holy Spirit. Here’s Karen Loritts.
Karen: It would be nights that I would just go to battle with Crawford, just nothing really out there but just my attitude. You know how we can freeze our husbands out, ladies—you know that; right?—we can freeze these guys out. But when I lay down at night, when our lights were turned off, when I closed my eyes, the Holy Spirit got me.
Michelle: Today we’re going to hear from Karen Loritts, Barbara Rainey, and a panel of other ladies hosted by Bob Lepine, as we talk about living our lives under the control of the Holy Spirit. Stay with us. You’re listening to FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. I have an older lady in my life, who I call a friend; but really, she’s more than a friend. She’s a mentor: she listens to my frustrations; and she hears my stories; she holds my hand when I cry; and she cheers me on when I have a success. But mostly, she prays for me; and she shares her life with me; she challenges me and encourages me. But she also shares from her successes and failures; she guides me and she teaches me by sharing her life’s journey. She’s what we would call a Titus 2 woman.
If you’re not familiar with that wording—Titus 2—the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Titus. In Chapter 2 of his letter, he tells the older women to teach the younger women. Today, we’re going to hear from a group of godly women, who are what we would consider Titus 2 women. What we’re going to hear is a group of ladies that are gathered with Bob Lepine at the True Woman Conference a number of years ago. True Woman is a conference for women that is hosted by our friends at Revive Our Hearts®. This is a great group of ladies; talking about, Karen Loritts, Barbara Rainey, Mary Kassian, Carolyn McCulley, and Holly Elliff. Here’s Bob.
Bob: Let me ask you all: “If you could/if we could roll back the clock and put you back at high school graduation—alright? [Laughter]
Mary: You don't want to do that.
Holly: Seriously, bad hair days.
Mary: You do not want to do that! [Laughter]
Bob: Let's go back; and we'll say it's your high school graduation. You're going to get a do-over from high school graduation until today—one do-over—one thing you would say: "If I could do that last ‘x’ number of years over, the one thing that I would really try to do differently than I did it…”—what would your do-over be? Do you know, Carolyn?
Carolyn: I wish that I would have responded to the gospel. I wish I knew the Lord as a young woman rather than a convert at 30, although I am very grateful that the Lord did intervene in my life. But I look at the young women today, and the teenagers I know, who are on fire for the Lord and making a difference already in their generation. At those times, I will look at them sometimes and weep, not out of self-pity, but really out of a sense of just profound joy at all the possibilities of what God can do through young women like that. That would be my main item. I would have loved to have lived my life, as a young woman, as a believer.
Bob: Holly, do you know what you would want to do as a do-over?
Holly: I think, for my life, I wish I had become focused on what God desired for me earlier in my life. Of course, I might have had 16 children instead of 8 if I had done that. [Laughter] Of course, God is so faithful to redeem those years, and I'm grateful for that. But I would love it if I had known the truth that I know now a little earlier.
Bob: But you were a believer at high school graduation.
Holly: I was a believer.
Bob: You went into ministry right out of that; right? That seems pretty focused to me.
Holly: I got married in college; well, but my understanding was very shallow. Really, if I broke a fingernail, it was a crisis. I was very focused on myself. It took the Lord some years to show me why that mattered.
Barbara: My do-over would be that I wish that I had understood the power of studying God's Word in my life sooner. I was so overwhelmed, as Holly was saying, she was with kids. I had ten kids—I mean, I had six kids in ten years—and I just was/I just was so tired all of the time. I felt like there was no way out; I felt like there was no help. I was trying to do way too much of it on my own—on my own power/in my own strength. I didn't understand the power of the Holy Spirit; I didn't understand the power of God's Word in my life.
I was at church every Sunday, so it wasn't that I wasn't hearing the Word. But I wasn't in the Word the way that I needed to be for my own life and my own strength. I rationalized: "I'm just too busy,” “I'm too tired,” “I've got too many kids and too much to do, and I just can't add that into my life."
But looking back, I just realize what a source of strength being in God's Word would have been for me, as a young mom. I know now what a source of strength it is, because I've been in real serious Bible study for the last 20 years of my life. I think, if I only had understood how valuable that would have been to me—to have understood God at that level when I was in my 20s and in my early 30s—it would have made a great difference.
Bob: Was it personal devotional time, or corporate study—or if you could go back and redo your 20s and be in the Word—would it be Precept, or BSF, or Community Bible Study, or your personal time, or what?
Barbara: I tried to do a personal devotion time on a fairly regular basis. I felt like a failure, though, because I couldn't do it consistently; there were just too many eruptions with children.
I have learned about myself that I need to be in some kind of Bible study that requires accountability; in other words, I have to pay money to get the book, and I have to be there at a certain time every week. Because if I don't have that, I’m less likely to do it. Yes, it would have been Precept; or BSF; or some other good, inductive-kind of Bible study, where I was doing it on my own—not just reading a book about it—but I had the Bible in my hand and a pencil, and I was really studying God's Word for me.
Bob: Got it. How about you, Mary?—you got a do-over.
Mary: I always had a really independent spirit, so I just: “Tell me what to do, and I'll put my back up against it.” I wish I would have learned how to bow quicker, because God had to whack me at the back of the knees a little bit to get me to learn how to kneel.
That wasn't just the case in my relationship with the Lord. It was also/I had to make some tough decisions. I was sharing with my daughter-in-law just where we have come from—my husband and I—where I defiantly/just defiantly—like even if he would suggest something at the very first, it was an issue of my will and my willingness to obey the Lord that I had to deal with.
I wish I would have learned, before, the truth that C.S. Lewis has: “Is that you stand taller when you bow in God's economy.”
Bob: You needed a white handkerchief back then; didn't you?
Mary: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: Let me follow up on that with the married women, who are up here—living out biblical womanhood in your marriage—what's the hardest part of that?—and how would you coach these younger women from your experience? Say: "Here’s what I would encourage you to do to really be God's woman to your husband…" I'll start with you on that one.
Barbara: That's a hard question, because there are lots of things that are difficult about marriage. I have told all of my girls that, if any of us knew how hard marriage really was before we got married, none of us would probably get married; [Laughter] because it is much more difficult than we would ever believe it is, when we're planning a wedding, and thinking about walking down the aisle in that white dress. I mean, it was way more difficult than I thought.
One of the challenges for me has been to understand that my husband—that his desire for me and his desire for oneness with me was really a godly thing—and that it was something that God built in him. I struggled a lot with our differences, because we are so very different. We are different in our personalities; we are different in our interests. If you put us on some kind of personality chart system, we would be opposite on every category.
Dennis and I have this good complement, because we do balance one another out; but we’re so very different. I fought against that for many, many years, thinking that my way was the better way, and that he should learn to do things my way.
Bob: How many can "Amen" on that? Right there; alright. [Laughter] See, universal feeling for wives.
Barbara: It is a universal feeling. One day, I remember, he told me/he said, "There's more than one way to do something." [Laughter] He was speaking of loading the dishwasher. [Laughter] I thought, because I had more practice, my way was better. But I finally realized, “You know, he's right. It really is not that important, and I need to quit fighting over these things.” [Laughter]
But I learned how important oneness is in marriage and how hard it is to maintain oneness and unity in marriage. It's a constant battle—it's a constant dilemma, trying to maintain that—because our natural tendency is to drift away from one another, and to want to do our own thing, and to be my own person. Yet, oneness is God's goal and desire for us.
Bob: What can a true woman do to pursue oneness and to make it a priority?
Barbara: A true woman needs to understand that oneness is God's plan and design. By pursuing an intimate relationship with your husband—relationally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually—that you are pursuing God's design for marriage. When I submit to that plan, and I trust Him that He knows what He's doing, it's better.
Holly: I think mine would be a little related to what you were saying. Mine—a little later in my marriage, as we started having more kids—I found that it was very, very difficult to balance loving my kids and loving my husband. If I wasn't really careful, then my kids would overwhelm my husband's needs; and Billy would end up at the bottom of that list. I found that I had to make very conscious choices to still be his girlfriend and his lover and not just the exhausted mother of his children.
Bob: That's a good word. [Applause]
Karen: I was going to say, for me, as an African-American woman, I had a couple of challenges. There was a racial challenge and a cultural challenge. Crawford and I come from two very different households. Crawford had a great mom, who just loved Jesus and loved her family. She was not the June Cleaver, she was the Clair Huxtable. [Laughter] She actually wore white pearls and an apron every day; served her husband. Her husband was a man's man. He loved his family; provided for them. He was just a picture of what you see in the Bible.
God thought it was funny to—Crawford and I to meet in college—and for us to fall in love, this woman that comes from a single-parent family; low income. He brought us together. It was interesting—the first couple years of marriage—I couldn't cry enough to get him to change. [Laughter] I couldn't whine him enough to get him to change, because he was the man; and he was going to listen to what God said. I did a lot of crying on my knees, saying: "God, I don't know anything about this marriage thing,” and “That Apostle Paul/that cannot be in my Bible that he really meant those words. That's a cultural thing; that was back then."
I was trying, every which way, to arrange the Scriptures; but I couldn't do it. It had no pre-qualifiers based upon your race, or your preferences, or whatever. It was the Word of God. So when it said "submission,"—submission stuck in my mouth all the time—but I had to deal with Scriptures. It wasn't about Karen battling Crawford—who’s right and who’s wrong?—it was: "Karen, are you going to obey what Scripture says?"
I was really ready to be a bride, but I was unprepared to be a wife. God took me to the woodshed lots of times. I did a lot of talking in the mirror; I stayed in the bathroom a lot. [Laughter]
But it was a challenge for me, as an African-American woman. I had no role models. Women were the main event in our families. If you were a male, you were a male; you stayed in the family, because you were biologically born into the family. The women ate up the men, so I had a struggle to bend my knee to God. Ultimately, my battle was not against Crawford, it was against what God said. I had to say, "Yes, Lord." That's what I'm still doing, even today, going on 38 years. I love my husband dearly, but it's always the choice that I have to make. I'm going to believe God and serve Him. [Applause]
Bob: I think God has put in the heart of every woman a longing for safety and security. I think most women think, "The only way I can be safe and secure is…”—what?
Karen: —“being in control”?
Bob: —“if I'm in control.” [Laughter] So I think part of the battle in marriage is a wife saying/learning that she can be safe and secure and follow her husband's leadership.
Karen: But you know what?—this is the thing about the Holy Spirit—there would be nights that I would just go to battle with Crawford, just nothing really out there but just my attitude. You know how we can freeze our husbands out, ladies—you know that; right?—yes, we can freeze these guys out. But when I lay down at night, when the lights were turned off, when I closed my eyes, the Holy Spirit got me. You can fool some people all of the time, but you cannot fool the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer. I would be miserable, and it is miserable to be miserable. [Laughter] So it's being honest with the Holy Spirit.
Bob: Mary, anything you’d add to that in terms of the struggles being God's woman in your marriage?
Mary: I'm glad you repeated the question; I couldn't remember what it was. [Laughter] Let me say that, just in terms of true womanhood, one of the things that was a real struggle for me was: “What does it look like?” and “How do I live according to priorities/biblical priorities?”
I've got a professional degree; I'm a professional woman. Culture is screaming at me what that should look like and what that means, so there were some really tough decisions. Brent and I talked about that often, and wrestled through that. It would be so easy if we could come up with a list of what it looks like, but there is no list. God doesn't give us a list: “Okay; it's appropriate,” and “The guys need to fix the cars; the women need to do this.” He just doesn't do that. He's concerned about our hearts and gives us principles; but then you wrestle with: “What does that look like?” and “How do I live that out in my marriage?”
Bob: Yes, good.
Michelle: Mary Kassian, part of the panel from True Woman ’08. I am so thankful that we don’t have to live this life, going through the journey blindly; but we have women that we can glean from/women who have walked the journey before us. We’ll get some more pearls of wisdom from Barbara Rainey and Karen Loritts; stay tuned.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. Sometimes it’s refreshing to hear someone’s different perspective. Whether you’re a wife, a mom, or if you’re single like me, the insights that we’re hearing from True Woman ’08, it’s really helpful; I mean, great biblical blueprints for living life in our culture today.
Let’s continue on with the panel. We’re going to hear from Barbara Rainey and also Karen Loritts. But here’s Bob Lepine asking about the Titus 2 women in their lives.
Bob: Let me ask you about tools and mentors, either people from a distance or people up close, who have influenced your life; or tools—books; messages you've heard—maybe, that have shaped your thinking about biblical womanhood. As you think about those tools and mentors, just what's been most influential for you? Is there anything that comes to mind immediately?
Karen: For me, God is so good. When I became a Christian, as a young girl in junior high school—from junior high, high school, and college—the Lord brought in my church. I left a really big church in Philadelphia and went to a smaller church that was changing. I remember going to this church because they were getting out a 12:00. I didn't want to stay in this other church all afternoon, so I went to this church that got out at 12. [Laughter] When I went, as a young girl, meeting me at the door was Pastor Peter Kowalczyk, a gentleman from the Ukraine, that had left his Russian-speaking church to stay in this community to keep this church going; and his family stayed there.
A year or so later, China Inland Mission—that changed its name; China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor's group—moved two blocks from my home there in a suburban area of Philadelphia. Out of that, missionaries came into our church; so I was discipled—my junior high years, my high school and college years—by missionaries from China. They invested in my life.
There were four specific women—two of them single; two married—none of them had children. They were older women that just loved on me; showed me about love of evangelism, about community outreach; discipled me how to love your husband. This was not anything formal—they just lived it and showed me—because I was clueless; I didn't have that in my own background. I had a lot of women invest their lives in me.
Then the last lady, when I was in college, she introduced me to this guy named Crawford Loritts and just said, "You have to meet him." Because she was my discipler, I went ahead and met him, and the rest is history. [Applause]
Barbara: For me, one of the women, who was most influential in my life was a woman who was long distance from me. That woman was Elisabeth Elliott. [Applause] I read almost everything she wrote; I subscribed to her newsletter. I still have them bound in a notebook, because I looked forward to those newsletters coming on a regular basis. I would underline and highlight.
She discipled me, long distance, because of her life and the godly way that she lived. I thought, "I want to be like her." It was years before I finally met her. But from the very beginning, I loved her writings; and I loved the way she was devoted, totally and wholeheartedly to Christ. I wanted to be like her.
Bob: Alright, we talked about the priority of mentors in your lives. I'm going to turn the tables on you now. We're going to put 6,000 mentors and mentees/protégés in front of you here; and we're going to let you be a 60-second mentor for these women. You get one shot/one piece of advice. They’re about to reenter reality—because this has been kind of unreality here; people make your bed for you; you know, that kind of thing—you are about to go back to the real world, where people have needs. You've got one piece of solid advice. Who’s ready?
Barbara: I am. The most important thing that I have learned over the however many—how many years have I been a Christian?—[Laughter]—I'd say pushing 40—is the importance of walking in the power of the Holy Spirit and learning to listen to Him/learning to hear Him speak to you. I've realized, in the last 10 to 15 years, this more than I did earlier. I wish I had known it earlier. But He loves to speak to us; He wants to speak to us. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "I will send a Helper, and He will remind you of all that I said. He will bring to you remembrance all that I have said [John 14:26].” I need that; I need that every day of my life.
It's a joy to me when the Holy Spirit reminds me of something that Jesus said/reminds me of something that's in the Bible. My prayer and hope for you is that you will depend on the Holy Spirit, and that you will ask Him to speak to you. You will say, "Holy Spirit, speak to me. Give me ears to hear and a heart to obey when You do speak to me."
Karen: I would encourage all of you, as you are going home, that you were in a holy huddle here for a while; and now you're going back to reality. I would even suggest extending, maybe for one more day over the weekend, to keep that media fast; because it's still kind of bad news. [Laughter] It hasn't stopped since we've been sitting here, but enjoy that media fast.
Make those hard decisions that: “I am going to deny myself the rights that I have to do whatever I want and just say, ‘Lord, I surrender.’” I would take that little white flag/little handkerchief that you have—keep it going.
Karen: Every time you would tend to fall back to the old you, take yourself into the bathroom, look in that mirror, talk to yourself and raise the flag.
Also, I would suggest, too, that you would find someone that will hold you accountable and say, "You know, Lord, I was at this conference; and out of all the things that I heard, there is one thing that you kept over, and over, and over, whispering in my inner being that I need to step up and change." Tell that person; and then walk it, and believe God for it. Don't keep listening to yourself.
Michelle: Karen Loritts with some amazing advice that we need to take to heart.
We’ve been listening today to a portion of a conversation that took place at True Woman ’08. I love how Barbara Rainey and Karen Loritts sort of wrapped up our time together. Barbara was talking about and encouraging us to pray to the Holy Spirit and say, “Speak to me, Holy Spirit, and give me ears to hear and a heart to obey when You do speak to me.” Then Karen finished it off with saying, “Believe God.” Those are some incredible insights from the Titus 2 women that we’ve heard from today.
There’s more to that panel discussion. If you would like to hear the entire panel discussion, go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Coming up next week, we’re going to find out if feminism has some answers to the issues that women are facing. I’m going to talk with Tim Muehlhoff and Courtney Reissig about Christian feminists and what they look like. I hope you can join us for that.
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