FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Becoming a World Changer

with Barbara Rainey, Susan Yates | September 18, 2008
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It’s not too late for you to make a difference in the world. On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with his wife, Barbara, and Susan Yates, authors of the book Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, about the difference women can make in the Kingdom of God once they embrace their new assignment post empty nest. Tune in to find out how you can become a world changer right where you are!

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • It’s not too late for you to make a difference in the world. On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with his wife, Barbara, and Susan Yates, authors of the book Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, about the difference women can make in the Kingdom of God once they embrace their new assignment post empty nest. Tune in to find out how you can become a world changer right where you are!

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

It’s not too late for you to make a difference in the world.

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Becoming a World Changer

With Barbara Rainey, Susan Yates
September 18, 2008
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Bob: As a mom, when the kids were home, you were spending a lot of time pouring your life into your children, right?  Now that the kids are gone, that doesn't mean that you quit pouring your life into someone.  Here's Susan Yates.

Susan: We have friends, a couple in Birmingham, Alabama, who have always loved mentoring young couples, and so through their church, they are taking on every year a group of young couples, newlywed couples, that they are meeting with on a weekly basis just to mentor them in how to be married.  This is something that this empty nest couple is doing together as their outreach.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 18th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Have you and your spouse talked about how you're going to invest your lives together once the kids are gone? Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  I have just figured out what you and Gloria Steinem have in common.


Barbara: This will be interesting.

Bob: You and – are you ready for this?

Dennis: I don't think I am but go ahead.  I don't really have a choice.

Bob: You and Gloria Steinem both have, at some point in your life, had a desire to unleash an army of women who would change the world.  Is that right?

Dennis: That's exactly right – just in different directions.


Bob: That's right.  The change you were both looking for was a little different, but …

Dennis: The army that's heading out from here will be in a different direction …

Bob: … than the one Gloria has …

Dennis: No doubt about it.

Bob: Headed in her direction, right?

Dennis: We believe women can be great world-changers, and we have two world-changers here in the studio with us, Bob.

Bob: We do.  We have your wife, Barbara, who is back with us again.  Barbara, welcome.

Barbara: Thank you, Bob.

Bob: And we have our friend, Susan Yates, who is also the co-author with Barbara of a book called "Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest."  Susan, welcome back.

Susan:  Oh, thanks.

Bob: Together, both of you – you're in on this whole thing with Dennis, too – you want to see women take the season of life, the empty nest season, and put it to work with some fresh energy in a new direction, right?

Barbara: Absolutely.  We don't want to see women who are in the empty nest season retire and become passive.  We want to encourage women to look to the future and use the years that God has given them to change the world, starting with their own backyard or their own community, but find ways that God can use you to change the world and make it a better place.

Bob: You know, you remember a while back when we had Dr. Robert Lewis joining us on FamilyLife Today.  You were a part of those programs with us, and he talked about kind of what's at the core of a woman's life.  He talked about her relationship with her husband, her relationship with her children, and her Kingdom assignment.

And it occurs to me that in the empty nest you still have a relationship with your husband and with your children, but the demands of those relationships are a little different.  There is now new capacity for Kingdom-mindedness that you just didn't have when the kids were home.

Susan: That's so true, Bob, and the other plus to being older is that we've lived a while, we've made plenty of mistakes.  Hopefully, we've learned from our mistakes and failures.  We have a little bit more of the sense of what we're good at and what we're not good at, but also we have a little, teeny bit of wisdom that only comes with living a long time, which gives us perspective so that as a young child is devastated because they color outside the lines or the teenager gets their heart broken with that first crush, we know, you know, given some perspective, that it's not as bad as they thought.  It gives us the courage, if we look at it properly, to try some new things and not worry about failing, because we may fail.  So let's go for it.

Dennis: But there are a lot of women, and, for that matter, men, as well, who don't believe they can make a difference.  They don't think they can really change the world, can't have a great impact.

Bob: Or they think if they're going to have any kind of a world-changing impact it means we've got to go to Africa, we've got to go to South America, we've got to do something that is dramatic to have Kingdom impact, and if we don't do that, if we just stay in the town that we grew up and kind of do the normal stuff, we're not really doing anything for the Kingdom.  But there's a lot of Kingdom assignment in your own backyard, even in your own family.  I mean, there's still a lot of Kingdom-mindedness that you can be about.

Barbara: Absolutely.  We just need to expand our thinking about what being involved in the Kingdom looks like, because all of us who are women who are still married, we still have Kingdom work to do in our marriages, and we still have Kingdom work to do with our adult kids by encouraging them and praying for them and supporting them and cheering for them.

But what it means in the empty nest years is just that our Kingdom work will take on a different look.  It will expand into a different arena, and it may be that you are involved in your church in discipling a group of women or mentoring a group of young moms who are lonely, and they are just overwhelmed with toddlers, and they need someone to encourage them.  Or it may be that you can work with foster care children in your community.

But from there it may be that God will call some of you to something that is beyond your community.  We don't need to shut the door on any of those things.  We need to be open to God calling us to do something for the Kingdom in our backyard or in our state or even in another nation.

Dennis: Let's just take a moment and talk about the need for changing the world, because we're all sitting around a table here, and we started this conversation with that assumption.  Susan, you believe the world needs to be changed.  Why?

Susan: Well, God's commanded us to go and be salt and light in the world, and to, you know, in FamilyLife we say we change the world one home at a time.  It does begin in your own home, obviously, as Barbara said.  But it can go to your backyard, and it can go on to the greater areas.  That's why God has us here.  He has us here for a very unique purpose for each one of us.

But I do think that Bob hit on something that many women are fearful, because they think this has got to be something big, and I don't feel I'm equipped to do something big.  So it's a little daunting.

We love to think big, but you don't have to think big, necessarily.  Let me tell you how three of our friends fell into a mentoring situation just by accident, and they are becoming world-changers in their little small town.

These are three girlfriends that are all empty nesters.  They have a habit of walking in the morning for exercise up a long hill in this small town, and then they reward themselves at Starbuck's where they just sit and visit.

One particularly morning, they wound up at the local Starbuck's to have their cup of coffee, and in the line to get some coffee was a younger mother who was, obviously, distraught.  She was tearful.  So our three girlfriends invited her to sit with them.  As she sat with them, she began to pour out her heart about a problem she was having with a teenager.  The three empty nest women immediately began to comfort her, to advise her, to counsel her.  These three empty nest women had been through a variety of experiences themselves, from losing a child to a prodigal child to a husband with a stroke.  They logged many years together with a variety of experiences.

And after a time, the younger mom got up and said, "Oh, thank you so much.  I feel so much better."  And one of the empty nest women said, "Well, you know what?  It's just free advice.  You can take it or leave it.  And with that a new ministry was born called "The Take It or Leave It Club."  And each morning, these three women make their way down to Starbuck's and they have their own table where they invite other young moms who wander in to the Starbuck's to come and visit.  And they offer advice, and it's always take it or leave it.

And this club, the Take It or Leave It Club has now caught on and in another state some young women have asked some older women, "Could we come and sit on your back porch once a week and just pick your brains."  And I loved that because what has happened here is a natural mentoring.

One of the things, again, that we have is years of experience, years of failures, years of successes, but we have life experiences.  And, you know, it's interesting – one of the greatest requests we have in our church is for young women who desire an older mentor.  It is a huge request across the country today, and, in fact, it's interesting.  When I speak at the Weekend to Remember conferences, I have the women in the audience during one of the talks where we're just the women together, raise their hands if they wish they had an older friend that they could go to simply for advice.  At least 90 percent of the women at every conference raised their hand.

And then I say, "Now, look around.  Every one of you knows someone younger that you could be mentoring."  It's a cry we have.  So I think this is a place where we can become world changers without being threatened that we have to do something on an international level.

Bob: Barbara, did you stop during this timeout that you had as you entered the empty nest, did you stop and have to remind yourself of what your Kingdom assignment is, the fact that God's called us to evangelism, discipleship, He has called us to invest in loving Him and in loving others, and then have to reconsider – how do I live that out in this next chapter of my life?  And, if you did, what conclusions did you come to personally for you?

Barbara: I don't have an answer to that.

Bob: You don't?

Barbara: It's a great question.

Bob: Well, Barbara, let me challenge you …


… to take some time to consider.

Barbara: Do you think I should do that?

Bob: Evangelism and discipleship, loving God and loving others and say "How should I live that out in my life," and talk to your husband about that.


I would try to get his counsel on that.  Do you have any thoughts about how your wife could live that out?

Dennis: Well, I have plenty of thoughts but, you know, this is the part of the process we're talking about here that our wives can take the time and the process to prayerfully consider what does God have for me?  And I think one of the things you raised there, Bob, is you make sure you go back to the biblical commands of why did He leave us here?  What's His purpose for the Christian community?  Is it just to build bigger homes or bigger churches or bigger ministries?

I don't think so.  I think the purpose for the church is what Susan mentioned earlier – the Great Commission, and it's what you're talking about, which is leading people to Christ, and then discipling them and training them in the Scriptures to know how to be a follower of Christ.  And I think every woman needs to make sure she does go back to the Great Commission as a kind of plumb line or as a ruler to evaluate – "Does my mission fit with what Christ's co-mission was to the Christian community?"

Bob: Susan, have you been able, do you think, to be more Great Commission involved since your nest emptied out than you were when your kids were at home?

Susan: Oh, I think so, because I have more of the freedom to come and go than I did when my kids were at home.  When my kids were at home, I wasn't really speaking out of town hardly at all, and I've been able to do that and to travel more as the kids have been gone.

But I think you can do it all along the way.  God gives us natural communities.  You know, when you have your kids at home, it's the PTA, it's the football field, it's et cetera.  When your kids are gone, you just have to look for the other communities where you can befriend somebody, love them to Christ, and share the Gospel with them.

Bob: And, Barbara, I've heard a lot of moms who will say, you know, right now, my kids are my ministry.  I mean, it's the evangelism and discipleship of my kids that I'm most concerned about.  I think they're right in that.  You can turn your attention in some fresh directions.  Have you had opportunity to do that since your kids have gone?

Barbara: It's very much an ongoing process still for me, because one of the things that we've discovered in doing this is that what you decide your purpose is, it may change.  It's not something that's in concrete or in stone that I will be doing this one thing forever and ever and ever.  It may be that you do something in the early years of the empty nest, and then it will change, and God will lead you to do something different.

So I feel like I'm still very much in process of deciding exactly how I'm going to be using my life.

Dennis: And I think, just Barbara being here, Bob, having written a book on the empty nest, shows that she wants to be a part of discipling and calling other women out.

Bob: Well, you couldn't have written this book while your children were still at home because of the time commitment it took to write the book, right?

Barbara: Yeah, that's exactly right, I agree.

Bob: And you couldn't have taken all this time to be on our program if you were having to run carpool and all of that, so …

Dennis: Well, she wouldn't have done it, and she didn't do it for a number of years, and so as she's redefined her life, here she is, she's coming back on the air with us more often, and I'm glad she's joining us.

Bob: Me, too, by the way.

Barbara: I am, too, as well.  I enjoy it.

Dennis: Yeah, but she's also writing books and taking some of the lessons she's learned to pass them on to the younger generation.  And I think that models for women what they need to be doing today.  They need to be using all of the gifts and talents and experiences and what God has done in their lives in their sphere of influence.  It doesn't have to be on the radio.  It can be, as you've said, Susan, in a neighborhood or even a local church.

Susan: It can.  We talked earlier about how we need to think as women for what we want to do, so that's what Barbara and I have realized.  But then we need to also think about what we want to do with our husbands in this next phase of our life, and we have friends, a couple, in Birmingham, Alabama, who have always loved mentoring young couples, and so through their church they are taking on every year a group of young couples, newlywed couples, that they are meeting with on a weekly basis just to mentor them in how to be married.  This is something that this empty nest couple is doing together as their outreach.

Dennis: And, personally, Susan, I think that's one of the pioneering ministries of the next decade – an older generation reaching down to newly marrieds and coaching them in the first 24 months of their marriage relationship.  I don't think there's a more profound ministry that can be had, because you're shaping not only a marriage but also a family for future generations.

Bob: Well, and you're doing it in a culture where there's a lot of confusion about what marriage means, what it looks like, how to make it work.  There's a whole generation growing up that we've described them as being "relationally illiterate." 

Dennis: Right.

Bob: They haven't seen it demonstrated for them, and nobody's taught them, so there's a crying need for those who have had the life experiences.  It doesn't mean you did it perfectly, none of us has, but you've got some life experience that you can share with others and say, "You know, you can make it through, and you can stay in love, and you can get to the finish line not just gritting your teeth but smiling."

And there are a lot of young couples who'd say, "I'd like to know how you did that so that I could know how to do it," right?

Barbara: Absolutely.

Susan: There's another couple that are friends of ours that have both come out of families of alcoholism and have been involved in both AA and Al-Anon, and as they looked at how God might use them as a couple, they realized this common experience, but they also looked at the needs of the many people involved in AA and Al-Anon, and they realized that one of the needs was a social need for relationships, because as you go through the recovery, you need to break ties with some of the old crowd.

So this couple, as their marriage vision, decided to begin to some of these people that they met through Al-Anon and AA to social events to begin to nurture whole new relationships and social systems for these recovering alcoholics.  And that, again, has been a very unique ministry that this couple of empty nesters has taken on given their own background.

Bob: Let me ask both of you to fill in the blank here, okay?  I'm going to give you a sentence, I want you to fill in the blank.  Here is the sentence – I don't know what God has for me for the next decade of my life, but I think that my Kingdom assignment is probably going to involve something in the area of "blank." 

Now, you may not have the agenda laid out, but when you think about the next decade of your life, if we were going to meet together 10 years from now and look back and say, "Well, tell me about how you've been involved helping to build the Kingdom?"  What area do you think that's most likely going to involve?  What is it for you, Susan?

Susan: For me, it's mentoring the next generation.  I think that's what's always been my passion, and I feel like that's where God has called me.

Bob: I could have guessed that, because the illustrations you've been sharing with us today are people mentoring the next generation, and I can see the light and the joy and the excitement in your heart as you talk about that, and it's obvious that's a burden for you.  How about for you, Barbara?

Barbara: I would say sort of a twofold thing – one is encouraging women who are in my season of life to use their lives for Kingdom purposes.  My hope would be that many of those women would find a way to help the orphans of this world.  If I could direct a bunch of women to be involved in orphan care or adoption or rescuing children who are sold into sex slavery, that would just be a wonderful thing – if I could encourage empty nest women who have the time and the resources and the health and the energy to go tackle that.  I would love that.

Bob: Does that mean you're going to have to be doing some of that personally, do you think?

Barbara: Oh, possibly, and I would like to do more of that.  I don't know how that's going to all pan out, but one of the stories that I just love that we told in our book is about a single woman, and I like it because I think, so many times, single women feel like they can't do things because they don't have a husband, and they feel somehow shackled because they're alone and what can I do, woe is me.

But this single woman is a mom who had three children, and about the time her youngest one left home, her husband got cancer, and within a few years died.  And during that timeframe, her kids got through college, and she found herself in a unique place in life where all three of her kids were married, and they were all stable and settled, and she was alone.  And rather than feel sorry for herself and pull back and say, "I have nothing left to offer, I have nothing left to do," she revived an old childhood interest, which we talked about in a previous broadcast of what are the themes that God has woven into your life?

Well, for this woman, one of the themes of her life had been that she had always wanted to be a missionary, and so she began to investigate the possibility – what would someone – would there be a place for me?  A widowed woman in her mid-50s or early 60s – would anybody even want me?  And she found a mission organization who did want her and who sent her to Africa, and she's a nurse, and here she is – we met her a year and a half ago, and she's on the mission field using her nursing skills that she was trained in as a young woman, and she has the freedom because her kids are married, and she has her health.

And so here she is, spending a few years in Africa ministering to AIDS patients.  And it was such a remarkable life, to me, that she took what God had given her, and she didn't sit back and feel sorry for herself because she was a widow, and her kids were married, and nobody needed her anymore.  But she took those threads that God had built into her life, her nursing, and her heart for missions, and said, "Lord, here I am, send me."   And God sent her, and she's bringing comfort and care and hope to people who are so alone and so needy in South Africa.

Dennis: And I wish our listeners could meet this woman.  She is alive, she is full of vigor, and she has passion because she's tapped into God's purpose for her life.  And I'm reminded of one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible – it's Acts 13:36 – it's about David, King David.  It says, "After he served the purpose of God in his own generation, he fell asleep," he died.  He served the purpose of God in his generation.

And I think the question for our listeners, whether male or female at this point, whether you're still raising your children or whether you're single, what's the purpose of God in this generation for you that you need to be a part of?  And you know what?  You need to engage that purpose.

These are days where evil is compounding daily with interest and you know what?  The Bible is clear – "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."  What kind of good do you need to do with your life?  What is the purpose of God in this generation that you need to be a part of?

Bob: And especially in this season of life, when you're moving into the empty nest season, you've got a fresh opportunity to ask that question and to look at how the dynamics of life have changed for you, what that means for your schedule, for your available time, for all of that, and see how that's going to apply in this chapter of life.

And, again, especially for a mom who moves into that chapter, which is really what motivated the two of you to sit down and write this book, how can women get engaged in a Kingdom agenda during this fresh season of life?  How can they pour out their lives in a meaningful way to advance the cause of Christ?

We've got copies of the book, "Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest" in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You can go to our website,, and click on the right side of the home page where it says "Today's Broadcast," "Learn More."  Just click there, it will take you to the area of the site where there is information about this book and about other resources that we have available to help women and their husbands during this transition time into the empty nest years.

Again, the website is, and you'll look on the right side of the home page where you'll see "Today's Broadcast," "Learn More," and you'll find what you need there.  Or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY – 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Someone on our team can answer any questions you have about the resources we have, they can make arrangements to have the ones you need sent to you – how ever we can help, just call 1-800-FLTODAY.

 That, by the way, is the same number you would call if you are interested in receiving a CD from us.  This week we are making a CD available to FamilyLife Today listeners.  It's a message from our friends, Jody and Linda Dillow, on the subject of marital intimacy.  This was at a one-day conference for couples where they were speaking a while back, and we thought this was a particularly good message on the whole issue of intimacy in marriage.

And so this week we're making it available.  If you will simply contact us and request a copy, our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY.  We would ask that you let us know the call letters of the station on which you hear FamilyLife Today or the city where you're listening.  It's always encouraging for us to hear from our listeners and to know where folks are listening.

Simply call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can request the CD, "The Four Flames of Marital Intimacy," and we're happy to send it out to you.  We hope you will find it helpful in your marriage relationship.

And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we're going to have some conversations with women who have found some unique ways to invest their lives during the empty nest years.  We'll hear from them on tomorrow's program and hope you can be here for that as well.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.  


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