Sunday, May 10, 2009
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY--FOR SPIRITUAL MOMS
Happy Mothers' Day!* Not only to all my friends and family who are physically mothers, but to spiritual mothers as well.
This morning on my way to church these thoughts hit me: I have several "spiritual fathers" who were influential in my growth and encouragement over the years, but what about "spiritual mothers?" Sadly, there were really only two, and I know I could have used a few more to keep me solid and straight over the years.
My mother had the greatest impact of any woman, but she wasn't the first to nourish me spiritually. It was dear Mrs. Baker, my Sunday School teacher in first grade. She was the first to teach me anything about God, back in Vacation Bible School the summer I was 6. I'll always be thankful for the neighbor who invited me and helped bring my whole family to know Christ. Mrs. Baker taught 6-year-olds a lot of truths that many adults think they can't absorb. I learned verses from her that I have never forgot--John 3:16 first and foremost. Although I didn't come to a real saving knowledge of Jesus and enter into that personal relationship until I was almost 10, the foundation was laid with Mrs. Baker. I wonder what kind of crowns that lady will receive in Heaven for her loving care and teaching with so many like me.
After her, there really weren't any women that made much impact other than my mother. I had some excellent "spiritual fathers." My pastor in my youngest Christian life was marvelous for teaching the real fundamentals of the faith, and I am also quite grateful that he never attacked other denominations along the way, as so many do. Only in my adult years have I learned what an exemplary minister he was. Sadly, his wife was nothing like him. I don't know what happened with her, but she left him as soon as their sons were grown; she wanted more than the life she had married to a pastor. It broke his heart and ours. Now I feel sorry for her, though. She has no idea what it would mean to be a spiritual mother or have the rewards Mrs. Baker does. My first youth pastor was also a wonderful teacher, but his wife didn't quite fit the bill as a spiritual mother, either. The same with the next youth leader.
I don't know how much difference it would have made if there had been some godly women I could talk to besides my mother when I was growing up, but it might have helped me to stand better when I faced real life adversaries. Teens and college age young women face some great temptations and questions, even greater now than "in my day." Yet I still see a dearth of women that the girls can go to for real spiritual leadership. The churches hire a youth pastor, not a team, and all too often the wife is mainly involved in her own kids but not the girls in the youth group. Of course, she needs to be a good mother,but I've heard from many girls who were disappointed by a lack of womanly guidance. and wife first of all, but I worked with our teens while I was able; I prayed so much over those kids and never felt up to the task, but I hope I was able to help at least a little bit. There is one other lady who is still working with them loves them, and the girls respond so well to her--she is a spiritual mother for sure. The wife of the present youth leader at our church seems to be tuned in to the girls quite well, thank God. But there is a need for so much more everywhere.
There is a great need for ladies who will take on being spiritual mothers with teens or even other young ladies. I really could have used someone when I was in college, but there wasn't anyone I felt comfortable with that I also considered close enough to God. I still see this now, not just in my own church but in general.
Sometimes it's because the younger women don't pay any attention to the older ones. Oh, how often I have seen some dear, wise, older ladies whose experience and advice is not considered in the least. They could have saved a lot of heartache and goof-ups if only....
But a lot of the older women seem to think they can't contribute any more. It takes a little struggle sometimes, but they really do need to make relationships with the younger ones. Titus 2 deals with this. In part it says, "3) the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- 4 that they admonish the young women ...5) that the word of God may not be blasphemed." (I left out part of it because I think the application goes far beyond the details given. Check it out for yourselves) The elders are to teach the younger; that's the way it's set up both in the physical family and the spiritual family.
This thought cloud of mine has four purposes. First, I wish great blessings upon those spiritual mothers out there. Happy Mother's Day to you--you deserve it! Secondly, you "sons and daughters" be sure to honor those spiritual moms as well. They didn't give you life physically, but they may have a great deal to do with your spiritual growth. Thirdly, it's an admonition to more women to prepare and offer yourself to be a spiritual mom, even if that mostly just means encouragement, a listening ear, and ready prayers. And fourthly, to you younger ones, don't be prideful and think it's just you and God alone. Let Him work through the experience and wisdom of others who've gone before you as well.
*I realize this date is different in other countries, but today is Mother's Day in the United States.