The Power of Mom – from KidzMatter Magazine May June 2014
Fathers are often emphasized in the family ministry movement, and rightly so. But sometimes, the continual call to Christian men to be the loving spiritual leaders of their families can have the unintentional effect of minimizing God’s call for moms.
This is an intensely personal issue for me. When I was three months old, my mom was in her second failing marriage. She was so despondent that she was considering putting me and my older brother in a car and driving the three of us off a cliff together. God miraculously brought a Christian friend into her life who shared the Gospel with her, and by the grace of God my mom repented of her sins and put her faith in Jesus. She was born again! As a three-month-old baby, I had a brand new mom!
From the beginning she prayed with me faithfully and read the Bible with me. I was attached to her hip at all the church services, prayer meetings, and Christian conferences. My father, on the other hand, was an atheist and thought that my mom had become a religious nut. Eventually, when I was in high school, my parents divorced after a pattern of infidelity from my dad.
The biblical vision of a godly man leading his wife and children simply was not a reality in my house. Given that reality, God called and used my mother to be the primary spiritual shepherd in my life, and I am forever grateful to her. She even had to do all the “birds and the bees” talks into my teen years because my dad could not step into that role. I would not wish that on any mother!
While I don’t pretend to have the faith of Timothy from the early church, we share a similar spiritual heritage. Timothy was discipled by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. The Apostle Paul wrote these words to Timothy,
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings…” 2 Timothy 3:14-15a
We don’t know whether Timothy’s father had died, was spiritually absent, or was not a believer. What we do know is that God called and used these two moms to shepherd his heart and prepare him for his role as a young pastor.
God calls children to “not forsake their mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:9b). “A foolish man despises his mother” (Proverbs 15:20b).
The eye that “scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by ravens of the valley” (Proverbs 30:17b). I am trying to teach my children that this proverb is to be taken literally, but so far they are not buying it.
Jesus’ last act of His earthly ministry, while hanging from the cross, was to ensure that his mother would be cared for.
A critical mission of the church today is encouraging and equipping “spiritually single” moms. A mother can be spiritual single because her husband is not a believer, or he is a believer but is spiritually disengaged at home, or she is unmarried.
For unmarried moms, they need continual and encouragement from the church that the faith training of their children at home is their number one Kingdom mission. They likely won’t have time to volunteer in other ministries because their primary ministry (raising their children for the glory of God) is all consuming.
For mothers who are married, but are “spiritually single” I do not support the view that moms in that situation should sit back and not engage the children with prayer and Bible reading. There is a school of thought that says she should just wait until the father steps into his rightful role as spiritual leader. While I appreciate the spirit behind this to call up the husband, the children need spiritual nurture and training right now. If dad won’t or can’t do it, then mom should fulfill her Scriptural mandate and humbly do what needs to be done.
I have been in two families with spiritually passive men, the home I grew up in, and then my own home for the first ten years of our marriage. I was the passive man. Functionally, my wife was the spiritual leader, because I was sinfully overcommitted to my work at church.
Mothers in this situation can be tempted to check out from the marriage relationship and focus on the kids. As you shepherd and encourage the moms in your ministry, never forget that a married woman’s first and most important ministry in the world is to her husband. She has been created and called to be his helper. Help him with what? Help him become a more godly man. This will likely be the most difficult, but most important ministry of her life, and she will need the continual encouragement and training from older women in the church (Titus 2:4-5) to not lose heart.
Banish the phrase “I’m just a mom” from your church
The phrase, “I’m just a mom” is a relatively new phenomenon in our culture. I think we need to banish it! Let’s instead bring back this centuries-old kind of thinking from Charles Spurgeon:
O dear mothers, you have a very sacred trust reposed in you by God! He hath in effect said to you, “Take this child and nurse it for Me, and I will give thee thy wages.” You are called to equip the future man of God, that he may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. If God spares you, you may live to hear that pretty boy speak to thousands, and you will have the sweet reflection in your heart that the quiet teachings of the nursery led the man to love his God and serve Him. Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship, but dream not that she is lost to the work of the church; far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord. Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple. (1)
Dr. Rob Rienow’s most important ministry is loving his wife Amy and partnering with her to help their seven children love God. He is the founder of Visionary Family Ministries (www.visionaryfam.com) and serves a pastor and conference speaker. His latest book is all about family ministry – “Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom – Uniting Church and Family in the Great Commission.”
(1) Charles Spurgeon, Spiritual Parenting (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2003).