Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, I’m delighted to have with me Susan Heck. She’s married for over 45 years to her pastor and friend, he’s been promoted to glory for over a year now, and Susan’s been certified with ACBC for 20 years, and she enjoys working with women throughout the US and the world. She loves to minister her gift of teaching and has written 16 expository studies for women, along with several counseling and discipleship helps. Susan’s thankful to be able to travel and to speak and continues to minister at the church that her husband founded, and even before we came on live Susan was mentioning how many trips she did last year and how many trips she’s doing this year—busy lady, Susan traveling quite a bit, but I’m grateful. The Lord is using you in so many places. I’m glad you’re here today on the podcast. Welcome.
Susan Heck: Thank you, Dale. It’s a joy to be here. So, I’m looking forward to our time.
Dale Johnson: Now, We are talking about a very difficult topic, this idea of overcoming life-dominating sins, and we want to hone this in, you know, these principles biblically apply broadly to every human being. And so we’re going to talk about some of these things, particularly as it relates to women. So, I want to just lay the floor open. What are some of these most common sins that you see women struggling with in today’s context?
Susan Heck: Well, I would say, certainly, in the last few years with the covid pandemic: fear, anxiety, worry, depression. Those would be the most common ones that I see today, and I think they’ve increased due to the pandemic and due to the current world situation. It just seems to be overcoming too many of them.
Dale Johnson: Yeah. And I think something that, you know, we’re listening to media outlets, we’re listening to other places they give us good reason to fear, right? As we think about the culture around us and that sort of thing, and we can go into detail thinking about why do we think women are struggling in these ways. And I would say, broadly, this isn’t just a lady’s issue. I think this is something that lots of people are dealing with. But as we talk specifically about ladies and how you know these issues fear, worry, and anxiety seems to be increasing certainly.
How do you see something like social media contributing to some of these life-dominating sins? I sort of anecdotally think that but if that’s true, how are we to think about that?
Susan Heck: Well, I think we have to be careful with social media. I think that many women today they… In fact, this weekend, when I was out speaking, I visited with a woman, and she really had told me that she’s vacating time with God to be on social media, and so they’ll check their Facebook to see how many likes they have with their post or they some even get on TikTok and other social media and it’s feeding the world’s ideas and into their minds. And so they’re believing that, loving the world more than they’re loving the Father and spending time in His Word and I know women, Dale, that spent two to four hours a day on social media, but I can’t get them to spend 15 minutes with the all authoritative, sufficient word of God. And so then, it’s like Howard Hendricks says, no wonder they’re crawling around in their spiritual diapers. They can’t move on because they’re listening to what the world tells them.
And so the world feeds fear, and especially the news media, they feed fear. And that’s one of the things I’ve noticed since my husband’s past. He was a Fox News junkie. And so I don’t even have my TV on hardly at all anymore. And so just not even watching what the media says that we are to believe has really, I don’t know, aided in my, I guess contentment, and I mean, I know what’s going on in the world, but it doesn’t affect who I am because we live for the kingdom to come. And I think women get caught up in the here and now and what the world is saying, and they listen to their peers. So…
Dale Johnson: Yeah, and that’s an interesting contrast too. You talk about just where we spend our time. And I would say nothing inherently evil about social media itself. And some people might articulate a different perspective, and that’s fine. But when our hearts are being unveiled that we’re leaning into that more than we are the narrative of Scripture, the wisdom of God, it being the backdrop of how we see and interpret our life and the things going on around us, having an eternal perspective, as Paul would say, Colossians 3 thinking on things above versus things below, that’s where the rubber meets the road, and we’re gazing very intently in a certain direction. And I agree. I mean, I think that this is a trouble across our modern society, and how much we are swayed by postings on social media with whatever degree of truth there might be in some of those posts. And so, yeah, I think you’re raising a good flag here.
Now, I want to take a step back and think about the church and how the church has contributed, and when I say contributed, I mean positive or negative. So how, in your view, has the church hindered or helped women to see their God-given roles as a wife and mom?
Susan Heck: Churches that are really committed to the sufficiency and authority of Scripture and have programs for discipleship and counseling for women, they have aided greatly in helping. Women in our church, for example, most of our women are discipling or being discipled by another woman, and so that aids a lot. We have a sound biblical Bible study for women, so that aids in helping them put off fear, anxiety, depression, a lot of the women that I mentor, I’ve had them read “The Art of Divine Contentment” by Thomas Watson, which is a Puritan book. But it has aided in every woman that I’ve gone through that with in teaching her to not be fearful, to not worry, to trust in the sovereignty of God. And so I think if they’re in a sound biblical church, that’s going to aid because the teaching is going to be solid, and the Word is a lamp into their feet and a light into their path. And as they hear the Word of the Lord and do it, they’re going to overcome.
Now I also think to be fair, many churches during COVID not only shut down but have compromised, and because I travel so much, I hear this from women that their pastor has bought in more into the trend of the day. And so, there’s less and less expository preaching and teaching, and instructing of the women and a lot of, in fact, some churches actually in the reform circles, a lot of the pastors now are doing away with men and women’s ministry. And this is a common thing I’m hearing now, and they don’t believe that women can learn from women, which is God’s design. And so I think if you have a healthy women’s ministry and a good solid church, it aids, and if you don’t, it doesn’t. And it’s really sad to see, in my opinion, what’s happening to many of what used to be sound biblical churches. Through covid, they have become weak and compromised. And as my husband used to say, pastors, the problem with them today is they’re politicians and cowards. So, if you got a politician and a coward for a pastor is not going to help the women.
Dale Johnson: Yeah, you know, and I think that that’s true. So, man, I wish we could explore even more some of those ideas you just described about women teaching women and the beauty of that happening and us investing time, effort, money into, you know, training the women in those ways. And anecdotally as you’re seeing that trend happen I grieve that to some degree, right? Because the Bible makes it very clear when our ears are uncircumcised when they’re closed to the Word of the Lord, whether that be by our own admission and desire to choose to listen to something else or whether we naturally remove the Word from our hearing, it makes us very vulnerable to a cultural influence. It makes us very vulnerable to the luring and enticing of the evil one by these different narratives.
Now, let’s hone that in. I think you’ve talked broadly about how the church can hinder or help, but I want to think about how the church is hindering or helping specifically as it relates to these sins. So, do you see the churches as helping or hindering women in their proneness towards these types of life-dominating sins, like fear and anxiety, and worry and depression, and so on?
Susan Heck: I think if the pastor is teaching and expositing in a clear way with clear application of the text for all of his sheep, then it’s going to aid in them overcoming these sins. If he is not and if he is bringing in man’s ideas into his teaching, philosophy, psychology, and those things, then, no, it’s not going to help the women in overcoming that, but I do see that, as I mentioned just previously that in solid biblical churches, it is helping. And if they have solid discipling program, if you have biblical counseling, a lot of the churches have biblical counseling that they offer, you know, I’m always available for the ladies in my church to counsel them and help them and I have many older women in my church that are doing the same thing, they’re helping these women, and that’s God’s design. So if it’s a healthy women’s program with women, older, godly women that are doing this, and it aids in helping the young women overcome their fear and anxiety, worry, and depression. And, back to depression. I’m not saying depression is a sin, and it’s not, but choices that women make while they’re depressed can be sinful.
Dale Johnson: Yeah, I want to dive down a little bit. As you talk broadly about the church and its contribution, I want to especially for our context as we think a lot about counseling and particularly discipleship as we call biblical counseling intensive discipleship, think more about what role counseling and discipleship plays in helping women to put these types of life-dominating sins to death?
Susan Heck: Well, I think it plays a huge role. I know I have two women who mentor me and they have for 35 years and through widowhood even, you know, the one who’s lost two husbands, she has aided in helping me through this time of widowhood of being alone, and this is a new time where I could be fearful, I could be worried, I could be depressed, and she has come alongside me and given me many instructions as a godly older woman and so that has aided and helped me. I know a few months ago, she said, Susan it’s been a year and a half since my husband’s past, so time is flying. But she said, Susan, you’ve got to stop thinking about what you’ve lost, and instead, you need to think about what you have, and so as I begin to praise the Lord every day and write down things every day that God is doing in my life, it really did change my attitude.
And so the one-on-one, whether it’s discipling or counseling is very different than the broad spectrum of being in a church where you’re just a part of the body, which is great God’s uses that to grow us. But that one-on-one discipling counseling, that accountability where you can ask hard questions and have the women keep journals. And whether you are thinking, why are you thinking that? What should you be thinking? Helping them with the very practical like my mentor did with me, the put-off and put-on. And so sometimes you just need that one-on-one instruction. That is very helpful and it’s God’s design for all of us men and women.
Dale Johnson: And I just think about it in particular ways of reorienting my thinking, reorienting my desires, reorienting my passions, reorienting my affections toward the things of God as opposed to all the things that are out there that might rustle fear within us. And yeah, that one-on-one is a very vulnerable place but a very healthy place to ask some of those questions and to receive good instruction from people that you trust, and I want to encourage on both sides. I think ladies who are struggling reach out to older ladies who are wise in the faith, who have walked through difficulties like what maybe you’re experiencing now, and learn from them how the Lord has strengthened them. You mentioned the book “The Art of Divine Contentment” by Thomas Watson; I would echo that recommendation as a good place to start where you’re hearing how to live faithful walking with the Lord.
And then on the flip side, I would say, you know what, there’s some older ladies out there who the Lord has taught much, and I know you know older ladies, if you’re listening right now, you try to minimize all the things that the Lord has taught you and you see yourself as being weak and may be inadequate. The Lord has brought you through some of the experiences that you’ve had for a reason. He’s grown you in those things, and in the same way, in which the Lord has comforted you, Paul tells you then now comfort others in the same way, and I would encourage you to engage younger ladies. Don’t think, man, I’m too old, I don’t have anything to offer. You have so much to offer younger ladies just by way of encouragement, just by way of teaching them from the ways that you failed and the things that the Lord has taught you through that. I mean, all those in leaning upon the Lord are going to be very, very helpful. And Susan, I’m grateful that you’re helping to do that in some ways and you’re encouraging other women to do that as well. So very helpful today, thanks for joining us.
Click here to find Thomas Watson’s book on contentment.