A Masters Degree takes on average 1.5 - 2 years to complete. The average doctoral student takes 8.2 years to complete their PhD. Both spend approximately 40 hours per week in study and research. That totals to 22,216 hours to obtain a Masters and a PhD. The time, effort, and accumulated knowledge required to obtain these advanced degrees bring value and authority to any given field.
Even if we aren’t pursuing a graduate degree, we have the opportunity to gain a similar experiential distinction. Between the ages of 25 and 40, a woman gains over 33,000 hours of personal and/or workplace education, experiences, relationships, hardships, triumphs, victories, miracles, and gotchas. As I figure it, if we learn something from each of these instances that is then applied aptly to our life, we have indeed earned a PhD, or a Philosophy of the Dame!
1. (in the UK) the title given to a woman equivalent to the rank of knight. "Dame Vera Lynn"
2. ARCHAIC• an elderly or mature woman. "a matronly dame presided at the table"
And yes, I just made that up. So congratulations to all my 40-and-over ladies! You have hereby been awarded your PhD! So, what does all this mean? Now that we have this experiential accolade, what are our solemn responsibilities?
Titus said it this way…
“Likewise, 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. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2: 3-5 (NIV)
So where are the Dames of the Christian church today? And why does it seem that the latest generations of women are making the same mistakes or even greater mistakes than the previous generations?
I struggled in the early years of my life with making good life choices. Yes, I had great parents and was raised in the church. However, I was raised in a theological context that did not teach me the process of how to make sound decisions. Most of my decisions were already made for me. Almost everything was a sin or a shame, so I just said NO to everything that didn’t have to do with the church or biblical context. I learned how to say NO, but I didn’t have a decision-making mechanism for how I should evaluate what to say YES to.
I sometimes wonder if I had had a relationship with a woman who had not drunk the theological Kool-Aid, would it have made a difference in my life? Would I have made better decisions if I could have asked a Dame how she would handle a particular situation? I think the answer is yes, I would have made more sound decisions. I could have avoided some of the pitfalls and turns that happened in my life if I had the counsel of wise, godly women. I needed a Dame in my life.
For my sisters ages 40+ in the church who are willing to accept the responsibility and privilege of mentoring the next generation, we have several biblical responsibilities:
1. To live a life of reverence and respect for God and man
2. To be clearheaded in our thoughts and actions
3. To be a living epistle, or example, for younger women
4. To love our own husbands, children, and family
5. To focus on what is good and to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit
6. To teach younger women to remain pure in their marriage
7. To teach younger women to make a home that is a safe place for their family
Years ago, I longed for the influence and presence of Dames in my life. I didn’t know what to call her at that point, but I do now. I also now accept my responsibility as a Dame today. We owe it to the next generation of women to mentor them well and pray for them and their families.
Come on, Dames of the church! Let’s use our PhD! It’s our time to step up and pour into the young women who need us. Let’s love them, counsel them, pray for them. Let’s start today.
Rev. Courtney Wright is the Chief Pastoral Support Officer of the Christian Alliance of Pastors. Her passion is building the Kingdom of God through the planting, building, and supporting of pastoral leadership of the local church. You can follow the Christian Alliance of Pastors on Facebook here.