What It Means to be God’s Woman
About the Guest
"Our children learn what it means to be God's man or woman from us. They do what they see us doing. But wouldn't it be great if we could explain what it means as well? Pastor Todd Wagner came up with a simple explanation of manhood and womanhood so that he could teach his children. Hear him explain the five S's of being a woman, beginning with ""Seek God first.""?"
Todd WagnerTodd is the Senior Pastor of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX, which he and a handful of friends established just over a decade ago to reach the unchurched and de-churched and to encourage, challenge and spur on the dead-churched and unmoved so they can enjoy the fullness of living as radical servants and leaders in Christ’s Kingdom. He is a graduate of both the University of Missouri and Dallas Theological Seminary. Todd has extensive experience in both church and para-church minis...more
“Pastor Todd Wagner came up with a simple explanation of manhood and womanhood so that he could teach his children. Hear him explain the five S’s of being a woman, beginning with “”Seek God first.””�”
What It Means to be God’s Woman
Bob: Men and women have different responsibilities in a marriage relationship; but one responsibility that both share is the responsibility of holding one another accountable to live God-honoring lives. Here’s Pastor Todd Wagner.
Todd: The best thing I do to lead my wife is—I just say: “Sweetie, when I’m not listening to you, why don’t you come to me? Don’t surprise me by telling everybody else. Tell me first. But if I’m going to try to talk you out of believing what you see as true, then, you need to help other people let me hear what you are saying.”
I have a community of friends that we talk about this stuff. I know—when Alex shares with them about something I need to excel still more in—it’s not because she’s trying to tear me down. It’s because she loves me and wants me to be the man that God created me to be.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Todd Wagner joins us today to talk about how important it is for moms and dads to live out what godly manhood—
and godly womanhood looks like in a marriage relationship. It’s part of how we raise the next generation. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m still worn out from what we’ve been talking about this week. I may just need to rest over in the corner. I mean, this is—we’re kind of tackling an issue that’s right at the core of what we need to be all about, as parents.
Dennis: I’ll tell you—God gave us children—and He gave us children to help them become the young men and young women to represent Him in the next generation. We, as parents, bear the responsibility to do everything we can in the length of time that we have them to shape their lives. I’m grateful that we’ve got a pastor from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Todd Wagner, joining us again on FamilyLife Today. Todd, welcome back.
Todd: It’s good to be here, Dennis. Bob—hello.
Dennis: Todd is, indeed, a pastor.
He is the founding pastor of Watermark Community Church in Dallas. He and his wife, Alex, have been married since 1991—
Dennis: —and have six children, all the way from fourth grade to junior in college?
Todd: Yes, sir.
Dennis: You’ve got a spread.
Todd: Yes, we do.
Dennis: You just kind of turned your billfold and your checkbook over to the university, unless you’ve got smart kids.
Todd: [Laughter] I’m starting to do that, yes—a third of the way there.
Dennis: Well, we’re talking about how you, as a dad, decided you wanted to build your sons in an intentional way of becoming God’s men and the same for your daughters. Where did you start with your daughters?
Todd: Well, you know, Bob, you said this. You feel kind of worn out just at this idea: “How do I raise a godly woman—especially, if you’re a dad?” You know, “I don’t know. I’m trying to love the woman God gave me; but maybe, I’ll let Mom do that.” Well, we can’t. We, as dads, have a role—moms and dads together. My wife and I use these things together; but sometimes, we are frozen by the fear of being overwhelmed with what’s before us.
I just wanted to make it as simple as I could.
Dennis: Let me stop you there, though. Did Alex help you develop these five qualities that you want to produce in your daughters?
Todd: Yes, thank you. I gave her editing privileges. I go: “Sweetie, here are the five things I’ve come up with, as I was just sitting today, thinking about what we have to do—and just, as a guy—just trying to lead out and not say: ‘They’re girls. You take them. I’ll just give them away at the altar a few years from now.’” [Laughter] I didn’t do that. I said, “I’m going to take a shot at this thing.” But I did. I went to her. I said “Sweetie, are these good? Do these capture—are they big enough that everything that God wants a woman to be to fit underneath them?” She’s, at least, signed off on them.
Dennis: So, the two of you own these together. They kind of became your marching orders for what you attempted to build into your daughters.
Todd: Yes, sir. That’s right. We’ve used all the other great stuff—I mean, anybody, who’s a fan of FamilyLife, knows that there is great material that they have to look at—to take your kids away for a weekend—use all that material. But we wanted something, also, in addition to that that was simple—
that we could transfer to them as they walk through life.
I, as a dad, specifically—I think I had a real advantage to raising a godly little girl because I knew—I’d been around women for a long time that were susceptible to men. You know, I wanted to make sure that I raised little girls that were going to be secure—they were going to have their identity in something more than some guy validating them. So, that’s the very first characteristic that I talked about with my little girls.
Dennis: In other words—how to relate to the opposite sex.
Todd: Yes, or how to have dignity without a need for the opposite sex or anything in this life to validate them.
Bob: So, the first thing you say is, “Seek God first.” What you are saying in that is: “Find who you are in what God says about you—not in what your friends or in what some guy is going to say is true about you.”
Todd: That’s exactly right. What I’ve done with every one of these is—there is a little explanation for the buzz phrase. So, “Seek God First,” is the buzz phrase. The definition that they memorize is: “Reject the lie that anything or anyone else can satisfy you.”
Your body image—some guy saying, “Will you be my girlfriend?”—all the way down to second grade, “Will you go with me?” Okay: “Well, where is he going to take you? What are you going to do when you get there? Why do you have to go with him to feel like you are something special in this classroom?”
Even when my girls were little and that girlfriend/boyfriend thing was going on, I gave them words to use. We would role play, all the time, how to handle that question.
Bob: So, how—take me to a role play.
Bob: What would that look like at your house?
Todd: Yes, excellent. Like on that particular deal—when someone says, “Hey, will you be my girlfriend?”—what I said to my little girls was, “Well, how would you think you should answer that?” I said: “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I be the little girl and you be the boy? You ask me to be your girlfriend.”
So, they did it. They just would ask me. And I would just—I would be silly. They’d laugh, you know? Just let them, “A”—number one—they get to see their dad have fun. Number two, they’re now learning without a lecture. We’re just rolling through life together; but I would just say: “Hey, I want to be friends with everybody. So, yes, you’re a boy that I want to be a friend with; but if you are asking me, ‘Am I going to make you a special friend?’”—and by the way, this goes with the girlfriends, too; right?
We don’t call people “best friends” because how does it make everybody else feel, immediately? So, I just said, “Look, we’re going to say: ‘You’re my good friend, and I want to be a good friend to everybody.’”
But I’ll tell you what was really interesting—what really encouraged me. I’ll give you a story about how this ended up playing out for Allie, my oldest, when she went to Oklahoma State. She got up there. She decided to go through and be involved with the sorority scene. One of the very first mixers that her sorority had with another fraternity was what they called a stoplight party. So, you may or may not have heard of these.
Todd: Basically, it’s—you go and you’re supposed to wear red, yellow, or green. Red meant: “Hey, I’m already taken. I’m not available. So stop any kind of movement toward me.” Yellow meant: “It’s complicated. I’m not saying, ‘No way, but I’m not completely available.’” And green was like: “Hey, I’m all-go, and I’m ready. I hope I meet somebody; and we can move forward, at this intersection, into a lot more life.”
So, she called me at this. She said, “Dad, guess what I wore?” I go, “Tell me.” She said, “I wore white.”
I go, “You wore white?!” She goes: “Yes, when we got there, they broke us up into three rooms. The red people were together. The yellow people were together, and the green people were together. I was the only person who wasn’t wearing red, yellow, or green.” So, I go, “Where did you go?” She goes: “I went in every room, and I met everybody! People kept asking me, ‘Why are you wearing white?’”
She said, “I got a chance, Dad, to look at them and say, ‘Hey, look, I’m not defined by my relationships. I’m defined by another relationship.’” She had a chance to engage folks in all kinds of conversation. She said, “The number one comment I got is: ‘If we ever do one of these again, I’m wearing white.’” Allie just said, “Well, let me just tell you—this is why I’m wearing it.” She went back and shared some of this stuff in a very simple, relational, conversational way.
Bob: And that happened because of what started when she was in the second grade and you were having those conversations. That’s not something that comes to you, as a freshman in college.
Todd: That’s right. It happened because she was going to reject the lie that she was going to be defined by a relationship with somebody in some fraternity.
Dennis: I really like where you are starting because it’s talking about their spiritual identity being in place so they know who’s they are—
Dennis: —and who they are.
Todd: That’s right.
Dennis: And your daughter—what a courageous young lady to wear white. Let’s talk about this second one here: “Speak Faithfully.”
Todd: Yes, that one was because I wanted them to know anything that I am is because I am yoked to a woman that is the completer that God has given me.
Also, we talk about the Proverbs 31 woman and how it talks about in there that the teaching of kindness is on her tongue; but she does open her mouth for the rights of the unfortunate. But specifically, I just said, “Listen, part of your role is to be a completer of your friends and an encouragement to others. So, even when you are not a leader in a specific organization or in a family relationship, because you are subject to them in honor, what you have to realize, though, is that you are still subject to serve them the way that God says you should serve them. So, your husband, your dad, your friends, need you to speak to them with godly wisdom, boldness, and in kindness—be a faithful completer of others.”
Dennis: Yes, what I hear you saying, in all this, is a woman is a life-giver.
Todd: You bet.
Dennis: She needs to use her words to bring life to those that she has relationships with.
Todd: I couldn’t agree more. I will tell you—if I am leading my family / leading my church—I am who I am, as a friend and as a man, because I’ve got a woman who loves me enough to push me toward God’s best. If you are going to be a godly woman, that doesn’t mean you sit there silently and just pray. It’s because you pray that you speak faithfully to others.
Bob: I’m looking at you and looking at the platform that God’s given you and the personality that God’s given you. I’m just wondering about Alex speaking faithfully to you. I mean, it takes—you are a passionate, driven guy. Does she have to kind of get in your face and go: “Todd, hang on. Listen to me,” or are you seeking that out from her?
Todd: Yes, I try and seek it out—
but because I am a guy who doesn’t always abide with the Spirit, she has to do what she has to do to get in my face. So, like I think I said earlier is—that the best thing I do to lead my wife is—I just say: “Sweetie, when I’m not listening to you, why don’t you come to me? Don’t surprise me by telling everybody else. Tell me first. But if I’m going to try to talk you out of believing what you see as true, then, you need to help other people let me hear what you are saying.”
I have a community of friends—our family of Christ-followers—that we’re in life with—that we talk about this stuff. I know—when Alex shares with them about something I need to excel still more in—it’s not because she’s trying to tear me down. It’s because she loves me and wants me to be the man that God created me to be.
So, I give my daughters a vision for that, as well. I’ve raised some daughters that aren’t afraid to tell dad, faithfully, what he can do to be a better dad or husband. [Laughter]
Bob: Have there been instances where Alex has had to get somebody to come along and say, “You know, Todd, I don’t think you are listening to your wife.”
Todd: You bet. I mean, there have been plenty of times when I have this kind of logic, as a leader, which is: “The problem is that you feel this way. If you didn’t feel this way, we wouldn’t have a problem!”
Todd: She has had to just say, “Well, listen, if I am feeling this way because I’m in an emotional black hole or am an especially needy person, then, I want to understand that.” In a way, that is very humble. She’ll say, “Listen, if this is something about how I need to change, tell me; but we’d love to have somebody else come in and evaluate this.” I always know when it gets to that level—that the way that conversation is going to start—with me saying: “We really shouldn’t have gotten to this place. I have not been listening and leading well. I need to step up and get the log out of my own eye.”
Dennis: Yes. I like the way you put that because your wife is bringing life to you by speaking the truth to you.
Todd: It’s always out of love. I mean, she really wants me to be the man that God created me to be. That’s what I want my little girls to know: “People are not going to be the people that God wants them to be / our society is not going to be the culture God wants it to be unless you, as a godly woman, fulfill your role to love them.”
Dennis: Women are powerful. They are powerful, regardless.
Todd: Powerful and essential.
Dennis: But when they are doing this—when they are seeking God first, and they are speaking faithfully, and they are bringing life to their friends, to their community, to their husband—I think they are in the middle of God’s design for how He made them and truly are the most powerful when they are doing that.
Todd: I couldn’t agree more.
Bob: You also encourage dads and moms to call their daughters to show—you call it true beauty. You are talking about the countercultural idea that beauty is more than just skin deep; right?
Todd: That it is. I love the little phrase that goes with the third thing—which is: “Show True Beauty,”—is that: “Bodies deteriorate—persons develop. Invest in that which lasts.” So, listen, there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself—exercising, eating well—but make sure that you don’t give yourself the fleeting things. This is what we find all through Scripture—that bodily discipline is a sum game—but spiritual discipline is of greater gain.
Our world will validate you if you are physically beautiful, but it’ll also write you off if you don’t meet their picture of beauty. So, you see all these things tie together: You’ve got to “Seek God First,”—what’s His definition of beauty? What’s it mean to live for the ultimate audience?
I tell my little girls this—I said, “Listen”—my wife helps my girls pick out their clothes, and wrestles with them, initially; but Dad is always the one that they see before they go out the door. I love my little girls. I just tell them: “Listen, if you want to win a man through physical attraction or even physical gratification, you can be sure you’re going to lose a man for the exact same reason. If that’s the kind of man you attract, that man will eventually leave you.”
So, these are attributes we started in elementary school. They are never too late to show up, but it does change the game when you start to interject later in life. That’s why I tried to initiate on this stuff early.
Dennis: We’ve kind of been camping on not turning heads—
but really, a part of this is turning hearts—
Dennis: —cultivating the real beauty—the internal beauty. How did you challenge your daughters to do that?
Todd: I’ll tell you. My oldest little girl, Allie—when she was little, she had this incredibly beautiful blonde hair. Sometimes, we’d be out places. Folks would stop; and they would just say, “She is one of the most beautiful, little kids I have ever seen!”
I gave her words, right then, to say—even, as a little girl. I had her look and go, “Thank you very much.” Then, I would have her either say this—or I would probably say, “Allie, tell them what the most beautiful part of you is.” She would respond—she’d say: “I hope the most beautiful part of me is the way that I love and treat others. I hope it’s my heart.”
So, even with complete strangers, we would go through that little exchange, right then, where I would say: “Hey, thank you so much. She is a beautiful little girl, but you need to know the most beautiful part of my little girl is her heart and her kindness.” Then, I would also sometimes just let her feed that line: “Allie, tell them what I tell you all the time is the most beautiful part of you.”
She would then say: “It’s my heart. It’s the way that I love others.” So, we tried to build it into them that way.
Dennis: Okay, these last two: “Stay Humble,” and “Serve the Lord.”
Bob: And we’ve heard these before because it’s the same as what you have for young men.
Todd: Yes, because all of us—don’t we need to be vigilant against pride? I tell my little girls: “Stay humble. Be constantly aware of pride and selfishness. ‘Don’t think less of yourself;’”—there it is—“think of yourself less.” A lot of this was teaching her to take a compliment.
You know, I told my little girls: “You’ve got to learn, when somebody says something to you, you don’t guffaw and ‘Ah, shucks,’ and turn away. Look them, right in the eye, and go, ‘Thank you so much. That is very, very kind.’” That’s part of humility—is not saying that there aren’t certain aspects of you that are beautiful—but realizing that, ultimately, at the end of the day, what’s really going to make you beautiful is the way you care for other people.
Bob: You know, as you are talking, I’m thinking back to the first day of fifth grade. I wore to school, on the first day of fifth grade, some of the hippest clothes—
I had ever worn in my life. I’ll never forget this. It was back in the day when flared-out, bell bottom pants were big; and I had a polka dot shirt to match it.
Dennis: And Bobby Lepine had showed up this—
Bob: This was styling! Somebody said to me—said, “That’s a nice-looking shirt.” My response was, “It is; isn’t it?” Now, that person turned and looked at me when I said that. They said, “You are so conceited!” I thought, “I didn’t make this shirt.”
Todd: And, “I wasn’t the one who handed out the original compliment.”
Bob: That’s right. But it was one of those things where I had to recalibrate because I was just trying to say: “Yes, it is a good-looking shirt. My mom picked it up; and I kind of like it, too;” but I had to learn that there was a pride issue in my own heart, in even saying that. I was getting puffed up with that. We can shrink away, sometimes—and like you said, do the guffaw—do the: “Oh, it’s not really,”—that’s a false humility.
But we can also get a little puffed up, and we need to recognize that’s the predisposition of our heart.
Todd: It is. I think the other thing in this “Stay Humble” idea—and again, I’ve made these broad enough that anything can fit under them—but just help them remember that all their friends were not raised with a dad—that at some point—and a mom had sat down and thought through these things. So, if there is, in their life, protection or wisdom that others don’t have, realize, they can still learn and need to acknowledge the source of the true beauty that God’s given them.
I really want my kids to know that: “This is who God looks for,” by the way, anyway. “This is the kind of woman that God uses—the one who is humble and contrite in spirit—who ‘trembles at My Word’”.
Oh, I’ll give you one quick story that kind of ties some of these together. Recently, my second daughter—who is a freshman, down at Texas A&M—she was down there. They were actually at kind of what they call a Fish Camp or Impact. There was a panel of men that were up there—talking to girls about how they were to handle different things in college—and questions were being asked.
Kirby turned and said, “You know, Dad, I just couldn’t believe that nobody was giving a response that was rooted and grounded in Scripture, even though in this particular forum, it was supposed to be. I started to want to say something; but I go—before I spoke—I wanted to make sure I spoke faithfully, with humility. So, the very first thing I said, when I spoke, was to quote some Scripture; but I did it completely different because I realized that, maybe, I had been given some preparation and equipping that put me in a different spot, with a different responsibility”—
Todd: —“but not just to blast people with that.” So, to—even when you are loving others—to do it out of a sense of: “Hey, I’ve been given this gift. I want to share it in a way that makes knowledge acceptable”—as the Proverbs say.
Dennis: Todd, I love what you’ve done—not only with the list here for young ladies but, also, for the guys—of really exhorting parents to think through: “What are you building here?
“How are you uniquely equipping your daughters to become all that God created them to be—and the same for your sons?”
You’ve put it simply. I’m going to give people the license I gave them, earlier, on the broadcast. Pick one of Todd’s five—that he and Alex have hammered out here—and steal one of the five for your daughter. Begin to build that into your daughter; and then, begin to add more. Come up with your own list of five. But begin to purposely take the Scriptures to your daughter in bite-sized portions so that they can begin to take hold of life—find who God is—and apply Him to their lives as they are growing up.
I just want to say, “Thanks for—not only being on FamilyLife Today here, Todd—but thanks for being a supporter of building godly marriages and families in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.” I know Watermark has a phenomenal marriage and family ministry. Really appreciate you and just pray God’s favor upon you and the great ministry of Watermark.
Todd: Dennis / Bob, I am grateful for FamilyLife. A lot of what I’ve come up with is because—
I’ve learned from men like you and ministries like yours. Again, our encouragement—we’ll put this stuff down on your website so people can go and look at it. But again, our encouragement is not that you would love our words but love the Word—
Todd: —that makes you write books like Stepping Up for guys and put materials together. Everything that I know you do, and that I’m trying to do, is to drive people back to the ultimate source that raises godly men—
Todd: —and godly women.
Bob: —and the great thing about this list, that you put together is—not only do you define what you are saying—but I’m thinking each of these character qualities for young men and young women can be a conversation at the dinner table with the whole family: “Hey, let’s talk about what it would look like for us to seek God first. What would it look like for a daughter to do that?” And you can unpack it. You can look at the Scriptures together.
Dennis: Or a dad could take each of these five—and you’ve got five dates there.
Todd: There you go.
Dennis: He could take each one of these and say, “You know, Sweetie, over the next five weeks, we’re going to have a date [one night each week]. We’re going to talk about each of these five that I just pulled off of FamilyLife’s website.
“We’re going to talk, practically, about how that fits in your life.”
Todd: You’ve got 40 verses—there are 40 drives to school.
Bob: You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com, right now. You can download what we’re talking about and have it available for devotions, for dinner tonight, or for the next trip to school. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to get what we’ve been talking about with Todd Wagner this week—again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com.
And while you are talking about taking your daughters out on dates, why don’t you plan to do something special with your son on the day before the Super Bowl®? If your son is a teenager or a young man, why don’t you plan that the two of you will take part in the Stepping Up™Super Saturday event in your community? I don’t know for sure that there’s going to be one in your community, but there could be.
You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link for men, Stepping Up. It shows all the locations, across the country, where the Stepping Up Super Saturday one-day event is being hosted—
on Saturday, February 1st, the day before the Super Bowl. You can plan to join with other guys and go through this material—four sessions on that Saturday. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for men, Stepping Up, to get more information.
If there is not an event currently scheduled in your community, there is still time for you to get the material and host one in your church or anywhere in your community. In fact, you’ll get the information you need, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com for how you can host one of these events. We’ve got coaches available to answer any questions you might have about hosting an event, or you can do this in your home.
We’ve come up with the FamilyLife Stepping Up Super Saturday home edition. Here’s how it works—you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click the men Stepping Up link, order a manual or a set of manuals—maybe, you want to go through this with your sons; or maybe, you want to get your small group together in your home and all of you guys go through the materials together.
You order the manuals you need. We will give you an access code that will give you access to the video content, online, over the course of the weekend. It’ll be available on the 1st and on the 2nd. So, you can do it however fits your schedule—and you guys can go through this material together. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link for men, Stepping Up, and find out about the Stepping Up Super Saturday home edition.
Let me just, finally, say: “I hope a bunch of guys will follow up Super Saturday by going through the ten-week series that FamilyLife has put together. It’s a ten-week video series. Like Super Saturday, the ten-week series features Dennis Rainey, and Crawford Loritts, and Voddie Baucham, Stu Weber, and Robert Lewis, and Matt Chandler, and Joshua Harris—other guys talking about what godly manhood is all about.” Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about all that we have available for Super Saturday and, then, the ongoing Stepping Up video series, as well.
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you and your family can worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to talk to a wife who wants to challenge other wives to respect their husbands. She has put together a 40-day respect dare. We’ll talk about it Monday. Hope you can tune in for that.
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 will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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