Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, I am delighted to invite back Sean Perron, the former Director of Operations for ACBC. He’s now serving at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. Sean was able to catch up with Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird, the co-founders of Girl Defined Ministries, which is a ministry that reaches out specifically to young women. Sean, we’re so grateful you were able to sit down and have a discussion with Kristen and Bethany, and we look forward to hearing the result of that discussion.
Sean Perron: We’re here with Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird, and we are so excited that they’re on the podcast with us today. We’re recording this at the Annual Conference, and they’re giving a breakout session that we’re very excited about: “Hope and Help for the Single Woman.” They’re the authors of Love Defined and Girl Defined which I’ve read, love, and endorse. Could you tell us a little bit about how single women need to hear what you have to say regarding hope and help?
Bethany Baird: Single women are a group of people that sometimes can get looked over or looked past. They have these struggles and these longings, but it’s not something that they’re talking about all the time. I was in that season much longer than I wanted to be. From 20 really until 29, I was wanting to get married, wanting to move into that wonderful stage, but it wasn’t happening. I remember feeling like, “Wow, this is something that I really have no control over. I really must learn to surrender to God. But it’s hard, it’s a struggle that I have to daily deal with, and I don’t always know what to do with it.” People say things like, “Oh, your turn’s coming! It’s not a big deal!” They say these things to make you feel better in the moment, but it didn’t really offer me any lasting hope. It was through my journey, along with Kristen helping me through it, of really understanding God’s bigger picture for my life and His bigger purpose for my life in serving Him and glorifying Him, that gave both Kristen and I a passion to help other single women.
Sean Perron: You have a thriving ministry with young women. It’s very exciting that your Instagram is full of all kinds of helpful videos and very popular. You’ve spent a lot of hours doing ministry with this demographic. What are some of the trappings, some of the lies, some of the pitfalls, that you see young women struggling with?
Kristen Clark: We get a lot of emails about marriage and singleness. From so many of the girls, the title of the email will literally be “Help! I’m struggling!” or “I want to be married and I’m depressed that I’m not!” They’re titles where they’re just saying their heart’s cry. For me when I was single, for Bethany during her season of singleness, and for others, it so often comes down to some lies that we’re believing deep in our heart that we don’t even know often that we’re believing. One of the big ones that single girls can believe is, “I won’t be fully satisfied until I’m married,” and it’s this idea that singleness is a terrible season. That’s the feeling we get in these emails, and some of what we experience too, that to be fully satisfied, we must be married. We must get to that next season, but as we’ve learned in our own hearts, as we study God’s Word, we’ve seen that we can be completely satisfied in Christ right now in singleness and in marriage. Throughout our entire life, Christ offers complete satisfaction.
We love Psalm 16 to encourage any single girl. If you’re a mom or dad with daughters in that season, direct them to Psalm 16 to read that, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad.” The psalm just goes on and on, reminding us that because we have Christ, our hearts can be glad. That is a promise from God, with Christ, whether we are single, whether we’re married. It directs their hearts away from lies and back to God’s biblical truth. That’s what really brings so much hope for single women.
Sean Perron: You encouraged parents to direct their daughter towards Psalm 16. Let’s say the parents are looking ahead at the teen years, and they’re saying, “Oh boy, I have a daughter, and she’s thinking about marriage already. She has guys that are interested in her. I’m a nervous wreck.” What would you say to that parent, and what encouragement would you give? What are the next steps they should do?
Bethany Baird: That’s something we can relate to because there are five girls in our family. I’m the second one and I’m getting married very soon. My parents went through that, so we as a family understand the fear of, “Oh, what are we going to do?” when daughters become teen daughters. On a practical note, something that was so helpful for us as teen girls was our parents entering into our world and being there with us. Taking us to the Psalms, taking us through good biblical resources, good biblical books, and saying, “Hey, here’s how you can put your hope in God. Here is how you can avoid being obsessed with guys. Here’s the type of godly man to look for.” Entering in and being a part of our world and walking with us, not just pointing the finger saying, “Don’t look at a boy. Don’t do that. Don’t do this.”
For a teen girl, you can want to put your hand up and say, “Okay, you’re just against me; you don’t understand anything that’s going on, so I don’t need you.” You don’t want that; parents want to cultivate that relationship like you’re saying, Sean. One of the best things that parents can do is to take the wisdom that they have and be that biblical counselor or that mentor in their daughter’s life and hold their hand and say, “I’m in this with you; I want to walk with you in this.” Take them to God’s Word. Don’t just point them, but be there with them.
Sean Perron: What if a parent is listening, and they’ve given it their best shot, but their daughter just appears to have a hard heart and doesn’t want to listen to what her parents have to say and terror kind of sets in with the parent. This would be the scenario where a daughter is not receptive, but her heart’s hard, a little cold to her parents, and they have tried to bridge that gap. Is there anything that parent can do? Is there any next step that you would say, “Okay, it’s not much, but here’s a crack at it?”
Bethany Baird: First, they must be praying. We want to jump to a better solution than that, but the parent must be praying first and foremost. Something that is so impactful for a teen girl is having someone that she looks up to, a young woman—someone in their 20s, maybe even 30s—of whom she thinks, “That woman, she probably can get me. She probably understands me.” It can be helpful for a parent to provide an opportunity for their daughter to have a mentor that is closer to her age that the daughter might be more receptive towards.
For Kristen and me, that was huge when our parents did that for us. They didn’t just tell us and walk with us, but they really helped us and provided mentors for us so that we could learn from them. We thought, “Okay, if this girl is doing it, and if this girl thinks this, it might actually be true.” God can really work through other people in their daughter’s life. For a parent who’s feeling so hopeless and thinking, “My daughter hates me and thinks I’m the worst!” have hope because I really believe that God can work through some other younger, Titus 2 woman in their daughter’s life.
Kristen Clark: One of the things that we love doing through our ministry is being virtual mentors, virtual counselors per se, to the younger generation and connecting with young women on a lot of the platforms that they’re on. Their parents may not necessarily be on those platforms, like YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. We have weekly YouTube videos that come out on our Girl Defined channel where we are talking about relevant issues that young women are facing, getting to the heart of it, and helping them understand God’s good design. We’ll have moms and dads come up to us and say, “I’ve been telling my daughter this for years and she’s totally rebellious. She doesn’t want to hear it. But she saw it in your video and she was open to it for the first time.” What Bethany said is so true, that we should bring community and other godly people speaking into daughter’s lives whether in person or even through a YouTube video. If that’s all she’ll watch, put her on Girl Defined! At least, she’s going to see some biblical truth, and it’s amazing how God can even use that as a tool to soften her heart.
Sean Perron: That’s honestly one of the reasons why we’re glad you’re here at the conference, and we’re thankful for your commitment to biblical counseling. We’re thankful for the ministry that you’re are doing, and I would encourage anyone listening to the podcast to checkout Girl Defined, their website, and their ministry. We are grateful that you took the time to be on the podcast with us today.