Five Ways to Be an Older Woman Younger Women Can Hear

They’re not listening.

This is the complaint I hear from my contemporaries about the next generations.

Women of a certain age worry about the generations coming up behind us.

We know we have a biblically-ordained responsibility to reach and teach younger women, but we flounder in this task. Largely because we view it as a task to be done, rather than an art to be practiced, an adventure to be lived, an act of love to be expressed with our whole being.

There’s a lot I don’t know about reaching the next generation. (I invite anyone under forty reading this to share your thoughts in the comments.) But, we all have to start somewhere. Certainly, younger generations are responsible to have ears that can ear, but older generations must do their part.

Here are five ways to be older women younger women can hear.

  • Live a Great Story – If the only Jesus-story or testimony you have to share is three decades old, it’s time to update your God-card. What exactly are you doing with this freedom Jesus died to provide?

If you’re reading your Bible, praying, obeying, worshiping, serving, giving, and sacrificing, there should be stories. If there aren’t, check in with a mature believing friend and ask God to refresh your assignment.

Don’t get stuck in a lesser story than Jesus designed you to live! Genuine, mature faith deepens like wine. Religious practice alone, like old bread, grows stale with time. Younger women yearn to be part of a great story. Older women living one will earn their attention. Once you have it, invite them to join you.

  • Vision Forward, Not Back – One of most ignored Bible verses is Ecclesiastes 7:10, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” Older woman are too often walking in the path of Lot’s wife – so busy looking back they’ve been left behind.

Travel light into tomorrow. Leave the past where it belongs. They weren’t better days, they were just different. Jesus is in this day and where He is is where we need to be, even when times are hard.

God designed you for these times. He designed you to be an older woman in these days. If your focus is the eternal adventure stretching before us, your eyes will be full of light. If your focus is the past, you risk the fate of Lot’s wife, simply a cautionary footnote who ended her future trying to cling to her past. We may not share a similar past with younger generations, but we share today, and we could be friends into eternity, so keep your vision focus forward and you’ll find more opportunity to make connections with youth.

  • Know Something About the Culture – Seriously, watch a movie made in the past five years. Check out a television show that’s not on TVLand or MeTV. Listen to the radio. Read a best-seller. Explore modern happenings.

If God called you to the mission field, you’d explore the culture. He’s called you to the next generations. Explore their culture – and not like it’s a smelly fish – like it’s a fascinating puzzle. Invite younger women over to binge watch something with them on Netflix or listen to their favorite musical artists. Trade off watching one of their favorite movies followed by one of yours. Ask them what attracts them to their entertainment choices.

Start a book club and invite the younger women. Switch off book choices by generation. Have a makeover weekend where the younger generation makes over the older and vice-versa. Be teachable, accepting, and curious. That’s a combination that is the foundation of role models. Laugh Easily. Love generously. Re-invent old age.

  • Be Vulnerable, Available, and Present – No matter how old we get, we’re sinners saved by grace alone. As we mature, we begin to get some things right, but we still fail. We don’t know everything. Forget the fake. Park your pretense. Let your vulnerability surface.

Confess your failures. Tell younger women your fears and needs. Be emotionally available and wholly present with the young woman beside you. Listen to her. Ask questions. Let time go lightly when she’s around. Be willing to go where she is when she’s available to talk. Younger women don’t want someone who’s perfect, they want someone who’s present.

Start an advice club where women share wisdom across generations. Older women can ask advice about talking with their daughters. Younger women can seek advice about careers, growing in faith, men, managing money. Single women can share counsel across generations. The middle generation can ask advice about dealing with aging parents. Widows can discuss dating with the thirty-somethings. We’ll get past the issues that divide if we don’t hide.

  • Finally, keep growing up. In this phase of life, we may be seniors, but in the light of eternity, we’ve only just begun. In 2 Peter 1:1-10, he lists eight qualities (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love) that if we have them in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus. If we don’t increase in these qualities, we are nearsighted to the point of being blind. Make every effort to grow in these qualities and we’ll be effective and fruitful with the generations coming up behind us.

We lose a lot as we age. Here are some things to intentionally lose for the sake of building the kingdom in younger women – fear, a critical spirit, inflexibility, arrogance, hypocrisy, and pretense. We each contribute to the culture of women in the kingdom of Christ. What does it look like in your corner?

Add to my list. Comment with your own ideas about being older women younger women can hear.

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19 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Thank you for the confirmation to step outside the “senior citizen” box. Personally, I’m re-inventing old age everywhere I go and loving life more fully in the process.

  2. Heidi says:

    “Younger women don’t want someone who’s perfect, they want someone who’s present.” Oh my goodness, YES. I’m way under forty, getting poured into by older women, and at the same time, leaving high school and having people in my path, younger or the same age as me I want to pour into better. First rule of thumb: I’m not perfect, thus, I should stop acting like a guru. A rule I don’t follow very well, but am learning to in grace. “Mentors should be guides, not gurus,” I was once told. I think the same is true for ANY relationship among believers–sisters and disciples, husbands and wives, mentors and those mentored, church members and fellow church members…we ought to be present listening ears and live the roles in the seasons we’re in PRESENTLY that God’s given us. Every place we’re in is with purpose and beauty. Why not embrace that? I want to embrace where I’m at now, and ask God for guidance in how to live in now better. Change when He calls and learn from the past, not live there.
    Again, Lori, this is right on.

  3. Lori, I needed this. As a 50+ woman, I desire to reach younger women. I don’t want to stereotype them as a typical “millennial.” Thank you for these great ideas.

  4. Daphne Woodall says:

    I remember being younger (30 to early 40’s) and thinking I knew it all and didn’t need others advice. The relationship you speak of must be based on trust and being genuine between parties.I’ve had a couple of older women in my life. They were Godly wise women not perfect. They made time for me. They listened more than talked. They genuinely cared. They prayed for me and they held our discussions in confidence.

    I don’t think it’s a situation where someone can randomly match up two people like a dating service but a matter of prayer that God provide for both parties seeking the other.

    These were not women to babysit my kids, bring meals or meet financial needs. That’s for friends and family.

    Great article to ponder.

  5. Bobbie Carnes says:

    It’s been my experience that the most important thing younger Christian women are looking for in older Christian women is that they love Jesus. Really love Jesus. If they know and see this in you they will listen with eager ears. I am 75 meeting with women from 19 to 50. All I have to offer them is Jesus. I tell them this up front and I believe that is why they come back.

  6. Linda says:

    I agree with every word written here. Thanks Lori. When I share time with the youth (half my age), I like to get perspective from them on how they give, how they receive and how they give thanks. It opens a window to share how we self-direct as humans and the opportunity to discover if we are believing or even following God. A good way we can uncover ways to be the best version of self. I’ve always had a great discussion in being transparent about when we are NOT being the best version of ourself with the youth. Allowing opportunity to open up and look for God who has already given us this in our free will and to receive through the Holy Spirit when we are aware of the difference between self-initiated and God initiated.

  7. Val says:

    So, so, so very helpful to me as I adjust from being an empty-nester to having our thirty-something daughter recently move home with us. I think it’s harder with a family member to feel like you’re “getting through” with any wisdom from above. My corner looks rather dismal actually, but I’m trying to see it all from God’s perspective. I know He has lessons for me in this place and I don’t want to miss them.

    • Shirley Harm says:

      My first thought when I read your comment, Val, was that, depending on the circumstances, if you want to “get through” to her, you can be fairly certain your daughter is waiting with trepidation for you to open the discussion. While I don’t know the circumstances, it’s possible you’ve already given her practical advice on how she should proceed with her life. Maybe she needs more than anything for you to listen to her and love her where she is while she sorts things out. Meanwhile, pray pray pray for God to keep her open to truth, and help you recognize when — and if — you should speak. As you put all your expectations in God, maybe she will learn to do the same.

      • Val says:

        Thank you so much Shirley! This approach takes a weight off my shoulders as I am constantly feeling like I need to say something wise and wonderful. I can listen welll and I can pray. And your prayer suggestions are so helpful. Confirmation from the Lord, for sure. And just to let you know that God used you, she is indeed here “sorting things out”! I so appreciate your response. ♥️

  8. Nancy Griggs says:

    I am 76 years old. I am a small group leader for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies. Everyone in the group is younger than I am. I find this is one area where I can listen to younger women and guide them in their walk with the Lord. I have learned to be honest with them and to share from my heart. When I share struggles I have had, it helps them to open up about their struggles.

  9. I appreciate these words. We “seasoned” women need to bend and stretch to keep up the the generations. It helps that I have a wide range of children, grandchildren and now great grand babies. They keep me young at heart, and mind.

  10. Kim Wilbanks says:

    A great word of encouragement. One of my favorite activities is being a mentor mom for our local MOPS group. The young moms are pretty amazing!

  11. Excellent article, Lori!!! This is spot on!

  12. Ruby Hillier says:

    I was just thinking about this today before I read your article.. About mentoring young women and new believing women. I have done it with women of different ages- as part of a small group in my home. And would love to hear how others do. What I was thinking of was somehow matching women of different ages with each other – one on one. And also mature Christian women with new believers. Looking for God’s wisdom to have it become a normal part of our churches.Perhaps get the word out that we are looking for women eager to do this. I am sure some are already involved.

  13. Donna says:

    Your words are so true. We,as the older generation need to listen more to the younger ones. Stories of our lives and how Jesus changed us is a great start.

  14. Kerin A. Medeiros says:

    I loved this and would like to share some of your ideas with our women’s group. What are you thoughts on that?

  15. […] Lori Roeleveld describes what it means to live a great story (and more!) in her marvelous post, Five Ways to Be an Older Woman Younger Women Can Hear. […]