By: Brian Chilton | April 6, 2017
Not quite a year ago, I wrote a tribute for my late grandfather, Rev. Odell Sisk. While he was not known much beyond the humble district of Surry County, North Carolina, his legacy is carried on in the hearts and minds of those whom he touched. However, Grandpa’s ministry would not have been what it was without the loving support of his godly wife, Mildred Sisk—my grandmother.
When Mildred and Odell met, it was love at first sight. She was infatuated with his dark hair and big brown eyes. While Odell went to church, he had not committed his life to Christ. Even still, she married him, praying that God would save his soul. The Lord heard my Grandmother’s prayers. Odell gave his heart and his life to Christ. But, Mildred wasn’t finished just yet.
Being the prayer warrior that she was, she prayed that God would use Odell for his glory. He told me that God had been dealing with his heart about going into the ministry. He ran from the calling as long as he could. While driving his tractor plowing the field, he submitted to the calling of Christ. God was leading him to plant the seeds of the Gospel in the hearts and minds of those around him. However, I cannot help but think that this may have never happened if it had not been for the fervent prayers of Mildred.
It’s easy to eulogize our loved ones while casting a blind eye to the actions of loved one’s life. Proverb 31 casts the vision for what a godly woman looks like. Does Mildred Sisk meet the characteristics of this vision? Let’s consider the following points from Proverbs 31 and see.
1. A godly woman is a woman of noble character (Proverbs 31:10-12). Proverb 31 was one of the few
proverbs not written by King Solomon. King Lemuel, most likely of Arab descent, records a conversation he had with his mother. He probably thinks back upon her life as he is led by the Holy Spirit to provide the characteristics of a godly woman. Lemuel inquires, “Who can find a wife of noble character? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. She rewards him with good, not evil, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12). That is, a woman of noble character is hard to find. She is a precious gem that is a rare find.
Lemuel’s words ring true for my grandmother. She always sought to do what was right. She was quick to correct, but did so in a loving fashion. When someone strayed from the way they should go, she would quickly shake her head and with a deep Southern slang, say, “Elt! We’ll have to pray for him.” Grandma was a woman of great noble character.
2. A godly woman is a providing woman (Proverbs 31:13-19, 21-22, 24). The 31st proverb also notes that a godly woman provides for the needs of her home. Lemuel notes,
“She selects wool and flax and works with willing hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from far away. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants. She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings. She draws on her strength and reveals that her arms are strong. She sees that her profits are good, and her lamp never goes out at night. She extends her hands to the spinning staff, and her hands hold the spindle…She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed. She makes her own bed coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple…She makes and sells linen garments; she delivers belts to the merchants” (Proverbs 31:13-19, 21-22, 24).
Lemuel describes a woman who works hard, even owning her own business. She ensures that her family is provided the necessities. Purple was extremely expensive. Thus, she works hard so that her family can have the best. She is a business savvy woman who is not afraid of a hard day’s work.
My grandmother again fits the bill. She was one of the hardest working women I have ever known. She worked so that her family would have what they needed. Grandpa worked as a farmer, pastor, and in construction. If it had not been for Grandma, my family would not have had what they did. She worked over 14 years at a textile industry in Mount Airy, North Carolina, often working overtime. She worked in the farm caring for the farm animals and often helping in the tobacco fields. In fact, if she had not had Alzheimer’s, her body would have been strong to the end. My grandmother was certainly a hard-working woman. Just like her mother, Rachel Beck (my great-grandmother), she would often cook large meals and would wait until everyone else had eaten before she ate herself.
3. A godly woman is a woman of kindness (Proverbs 31:20). Lemuel also note that a godly woman is one whose “hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy” (31:20). Grandma always looked for ways to help other people. She had a servant’s heart. She would offer support to her coworkers and those at church. Because of this, she was beloved by everyone who knew her.
4. A godly woman is a supportive woman (Proverbs 31:23). Lemuel notes that a godly woman’s husband is “known at the city gates, where he sits among the elders of the land” (31:23). Her husband was able to lead and succeed because of the support that she conferred to him. A godly woman not only was successful herself, but she sought to help her husband succeed, also. In the regard, Grandma excelled. She and Grandpa were like two peas in a pod. Where a person found one, they would find the other. Grandpa’s ministry was seen and loved by those in the congregations he served. Yet…and I think he would concur…his ministry would not be possible if it were not for the loving support of his wife, Mildred Sisk—my grandmother.
When I entered the dating scene, girls would be interested in me until I told them the following four words: “I am a preacher.” Then, they would run from me as if I had leprosy. That was not the case with Grandma. She was proud to tell anyone who crossed her path that she had three members of her family who were in the ministry: her husband Odell, her son Ricky, and her grandson—yours truly.
5. A godly woman is a woman of strength (Proverbs 31:25). Lemuel continues his description by noting that “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come” (31:25). Duane Garrett notes that “In v. 21 she had no worry for the cold because her children were in scarlet; in v. 25 she laughs at whatever troubles the future may bring because she is metaphorically clothed in “strength and dignity.” Being a woman of character and strength, she is prepared for whatever may come.”
Perhaps one of toughest things for my grandmother was the loss of her parents, Henry and Rachel Beck. Now, another great woman of faith, my mother Gail Chilton, is having to face the same task. However, both women could face the troubles that came their way not because of their own strength, but through the strength given to them by the Lord God. Grandma was certainly a woman of great spiritual strength.
One particular time, I had spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa had business that took him out. Grandma was feeding the goats out back. She had previously hurt her hip. They had one particular goat who was quite obnoxious. The goat reared up and knocked Grandma down on her bad hip. I offered to help her, but she told me, “Stay back. I’ve got it. I don’t want you to get hurt.” She picked up a stick as long as my forearm and lit into that goat. I felt sorrier for the goat after she finished with him. Grandma’s strength allowed her to face any obstacle that came her way.
6. A godly woman is a woman of wisdom (Proverbs 31:26-27). Lemuel continues to describe a godly woman as one whose “mouth speaks wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle” (31:26-27). Although she held no formal education, Grandma was extremely wise. Once I visited Grandma and Grandpa. A friend in the ministry had visited them also. He left a little after I arrived. Grandma, while knitting and with a bit of snuff in her mouth, looked at Grandpa and exclaimed, “He is as plain as an old shoe!” I looked at Grandma quite perplexed at her statement. I thought she had meant that the preacher was homely in appearance. Chuckling a bit, she replied, “I mean that he is the same every time you see him. He doesn’t change.” I never knew that being plain as an old shoe was a good thing. But if that is how being a plain shoe is perceived to be, I want to be the plainest old shoe on the market. Grandma, with her country charm, had great wisdom that she bestowed to her children and grandchildren. Hopefully, we can pass on her wisdom to her great-grandchildren and future generations.
7. A godly woman is a woman of faith (Proverbs 31:28-31). Lemuel also acknowledges that none of the characteristics previously mentioned would be possible if she was not a woman of faith. Such a woman has children who “rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her. ‘Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!’ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates” (31:28-31). The fact that I am writing this tribute to my grandmother should already show that Mildred Sisk is considered blessed by her family. Grandma was a true woman of faith. She walked with the Lord and talked with the Lord. Jesus was a reality to her.
Once, she had an automobile accident a few miles from her home. She was afraid to drive again because of her accident. Yet, she knew she had to go to work. So, she prayed that God would protect her. She looked up above her house and saw Jesus! Jesus had his arms outstretched. She said that she could not make out his face but knew it was him. From that point on, she did not worry because she knew that Jesus was protecting her. We have the comfort knowing that the same Jesus who appeared to my grandmother has her in his mighty arms even now as I write these words.
I realize I am a bit biased. But, I think everyone reading this who also knew my grandmother Mildred Sisk would agree with me in saying that she was a wonderful woman of God. She meets all the characteristics of a godly woman according to Proverbs 31. It is, in my estimation, undeniable. I am truly blessed to have such Christian women of faith in my family.
Many have heard the messages of my Grandpa Odell and my uncle Ricky. Many have heard my messages and have read my articles such as this one here at BellatorChristi.com. But the reality is that none of our ministries would have been possible if it had not been for the unseen worker behind the scenes. The Holy Spirit has used the faithful ministry of my grandmother to serve as a bulwark to propel all three ministries. She prayed for my grandfather to be used of God. He was. She prayed that her family would be used for God’s glory. The Holy Spirit has called at least two of us into pastoral ministry. Who knows? There could be more on the way whom God will call from our family. In addition to those in pastoral ministry, we have three who work in the ministry of healthcare: one a nurse, one a physician’s assistant, and one an occupational therapist.
Behind every life, God uses a network of people to reach us. I suppose that when we get to heaven, we will find that God has used many more unseen workers of faith like my grandmother. Heaven will be a great homecoming. Grandma had her homecoming Tuesday, April 4th, 2017. I am glad to know that we have the promise of seeing her again. That promise is only possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we celebrate this Easter. Grandma is an example of all the unsung women of faith who inspire us to do great things for the glory of God.
Brian Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University, his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University, received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, and hopes to work on doctorate studies soon. Brian is the pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church in Yadkinville, North Carolina.
© 2017. Bellator Christi.
 Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017).
 I suppose “elt” is a Southern derivative of the word “well.”