By Sheila S. Hudson
When I was a rookie minister’s wife, a gentle lady named Merle took me under her wing. Merle was a retired schoolteacher “clothed with strength and dignity” who could “laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25). Her wisdom earned respect communitywide, while her “never-grow-up attitude” endeared her to believers and nonbelievers alike. Her husband was an extraordinary elder whose wisdom earned esteem in all arenas.
Miss Merle modeled Titus 2:3, “Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”
Our next ministry introduced me to a dear lady named Grayce. I requested that she mentor me one day each week. Her husband was a well-regarded professor and elder of the church. Grayce offered insights into holy living, entertaining on a shoestring budget, tips on becoming a prayer warrior, and her recipe for a vibrant faith. Grayce was a mentor in word and deed who blended tradition, truth, and enthusiasm into everything she undertook. Grayce lived out Titus 2:4 and 5, “Then they [the older women] can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure” (author emphasis).
Each time God moved us to another place of service, God provided a beautiful spiritual “mother” to guide me through tough economic times, personal trials, and spiritual growth.
God gave me a West Virginia “mom” at a critical time. I had a 3-year-old and was about to give birth in an unfamiliar environment with few friends and a new church. Leona befriended me, became a surrogate grandmother to my girls, and quietly witnessed in everyday tasks. Her attitude of gratefulness, patience, and unconditional love was refreshing.
Along with physical and spiritual nurture, Leona provided the last imperative of Titus 2:5, “to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands.”
God provided all of these examples of Titus 2 women, each of them an elder’s wife who took Scripture seriously and embraced her position on the team.
Helen, my mother-in-law, is also a constant example. An elder’s wife for more than 50 years, she is the epitome of hospitality. On any given Sunday, her small home was filled with students from Atlanta Christian College. It didn’t matter what was on the menu, the home was warm, welcoming, and full of love. After 45 years in the family, I can attest it still is.
Merle, Grayce, Leona, and Helen demonstrated the importance of living temperate, chaste lives incorporating fidelity, goodness, and love for both family and church family. Every lesson I teach is an overflow from fountains they help fill. The hope I offer springs from the prayer, support, encouragement, laughter, and tears these Titus 2 women invested in me.
Leadership is a lonely job. In theory, a leader has many advisers clamoring to help. But according to an article I read not long ago,
One of the most defining aspects of leadership is how inherently isolating it can be for people in power. Few colleagues will speak with them in true candor. . . . That’s why many top leaders find themselves turning to their spouses for unfiltered advice. As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who advises CEOs and boards of directors around the world, I’ve found that more of my clients turn to their wives or husbands about critical decisions in their job than one might think (Kerry Sulkowicz, The Washington Post, 23 January 2012).
And church leaders are no different.
Today’s church needs valiant leaders who join with supportive spouses to make invincible spiritual teams. Today more than ever, we need Titus 2 women.
Sheila Hudson is a freelance writer and founder of Bright Ideas, created to bring hope and inspiration through the written and spoken word. Her website is www.sheilashudson.com; her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.