The women’s ministry team at the Committee on Discipleship Ministry (CDM) hopes to provide women with resources to help them think biblically and live covenantally. This, according to Susan Hunt and Karen Hodge, is the core of women’s ministry and the heart of Titus 2 discipleship.
Now Hodge, CDM’s Women’s Ministry coordinator, and Hunt, a former Women’s Ministry coordinator, have co-written “Transformed — Life-taker to Life-giver.” Hodge and Hunt talked with byFaith about the joys of spiritual mothering, the call to be life-givers, and their own life-giving friendship.
What made you want to write this book?
KH (Karen Hodge): The idea for this project was hatched when I visited Susan in her home and told her about the plans for the Transformed Conferences. She challenged me to think about the essence of our ministry, which is equipping women in the church.
Once the conference was over, then what? The book grew out of our desire to give women a tool to unpack, in the context of community, what God’s transformative work looks like in the pages of Scripture and in their own lives.
SH (Susan Hunt): I love partnering with someone on a writing project. As Karen and I talked about our redemptive calling to be life-givers she told me about her desire to steward what has been done in women’s ministry in the past, and her passion for women to not just be informed about a biblical perspective of womanhood but to be transformed. It was an electrifying moment when the past, present, and prayer for the future coalesced into the idea of “Transformed — Life-taker to Life-giver.”
Life-takers make themselves the reference point, and their orientations are always toward self-glory. Life-givers seek to keep God as their reference point.
What do you hope women will learn from this book?
KH: As women, we can tend to crave more information so that we have all the “right answers” to life’s big questions. We can also be tempted to fall prey to the conforming pressure of this world. So our prayer is that women will be nothing less than transformed — knowing that transformation is always radical, sometimes messy, but in the end ultimately glorious.
SH: The topic of transformation transcends age and life situation. This book is for all women who want to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus in community with other women — which is the covenant way.
Your book is a combination of Bible study and devotionals. How does this benefit readers?
KH: This book is a Bible study on the topic of transformation with specific daily devotions for women. It is a Titus 2 tool to help women share their lives with one another as they discuss how to live a transformed life.
Our reasoning for the format grows out of one objective of women’s ministry: equipping women to think biblically and live covenantally. This objective is not just a clever statement. It flows out of Titus 2:1, 3-5 and is the very essence of our philosophy of women’s ministry in the PCA.
SH: Spiritually mature women are to disciple younger women to think about how the sound doctrine taught from the pulpit is to be applied to their relationships and circumstances. This is a nurturing, mothering ministry. We prayed a lot about the format, and our prayer is that it will help women who disciple other women know how to combine the informational and relational aspects of discipleship.
You spend time considering the lives of Eve, Sarah, and Mary. How did you decide on these three women from the Bible?
SH: We begin with Peter’s reference to “holy women who hoped in God” (1 Peter 3:1-7) and then transition to the stories of three such women, Eve, Sarah, and Mary. Peter’s letter gives the larger Gospel context to understand their stories. These women show us the arc of the covenant story. These three women also show us the process of God’s grace renewing their minds and transforming their lives so they incarnate His creation design and redemptive calling.
What is life-taking, and why is it so damaging?
KH: Life-takers make themselves the reference point, and their orientations are always toward self-glory. Life-givers seek to keep God as their reference point; His glory is their aim. Only the Spirit can transform a life-taker to a life-giver and create in us what Thomas Chalmers called “an expulsive power of a new affection.”
How does transformation enable a woman to be a life-giver?
SH: God’s transforming grace enables us to fulfill our redemptive calling to be life-givers in every relationship and situation. Transformation is an amazing idea. By nature, we are selfish life-takers. God in His mercy saves us from our sin and then begins a work of transforming us into His likeness. The more we die to self and live unto Christ, the more we reflect His life to those around us. Even in the darkest relationship and place, we have the potential to reflect the transforming love of Christ because the life of Christ is in us. The power of the Gospel makes us gasp with wonder and gratitude.
Karen, you are the current PCA Women’s Ministry coordinator, and Susan, you are a former Women’s Ministry coordinator. How has your relationship grown and developed over the years? How has the idea of being a life-giver grown out of your relationship with each other?
KH: It began with a phone call to the then-coordinator of Women’s Ministry, Susan Hunt. Twenty years ago, women’s ministry in the PCA was largely built around traditional models in well-established churches. As a church-planting pastor’s wife, I was looking for the 10-step pour-water-on-it Women’s Ministry kit for a church plant.
Thankfully Susan did not stifle my zeal, but rather she invited me into a relationship that has been transforming me over the last 20 years. Susan has taught me much about thinking biblically and living covenantally, but I believe by God’s grace I am becoming a different kind of woman because she has taken the time to show me why those two critical motivations for the Christian life make a kingdom difference.
SH: As I listened to the heart of that young voice on the telephone, I knew I had been gifted with a kindred spirit. We share the same ministry heartbeat for Titus 2 discipleship. Over the last 20 years I have had the joy of watching this spiritual daughter grow as a pastor’s wife, mom, and women’s ministry leader. Karen teases me that I have the “gift of nudging” — well, now our roles have reversed. I’m 77, and she is nudging me and giving me opportunities to serve our King.