I’ve never read the best seller, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, considered the “pregnancy bible” for expectant mothers, but over nineteen million people have! In her book, author Heidi Murkoff, helpfully addresses the questions and fears most first-time parents experience.
It’s a sobering, exciting gift to be entrusted with a life through pregnancy, fostering, adoption, or being a spiritual mama to children born to others. We know that little ones need selfless care and love to grow and mature. God must intervene to grow a baby physically and to nurture a child spiritually in their soul. There is much wisdom to gain as we take these encouraging truths and apply them to relationships with fellow children of God.
Sisters, through the Spirit we’re enabled to share spiritual life with others, and to have a faith-filled expectancy that God will bear fruit through us. An encouraging example of spiritual care and discipleship is the relationship between Paul and Timothy. Paul wanted Timothy to catch the vision to take what had been entrusted to him and to share it with others who could entrust it to others still. This is how the family of God grows: spiritual multiplication through discipleship.
Let’s consider three gifts of being a spiritual mother, which is a way we can all participate in God’s family expansion.
As a spiritual mother you can engage in relationships that share a Paul-Timothy bond.
Paul wrote to Timothy with affectionate language, such as “my true child in the faith,” and “my beloved child,” even as they were from different families, cultures, and generations! Their spiritual bond was eternal because it was anchored in Christ himself, their eternal Lord. They both caught Jesus’ passion for the gospel to go out to all the nations through intentional disciple making. It makes beautiful sense that their relationship went beyond a great Christian friendship; Paul poured himself into Timothy with the hope and expectation that Timothy would do the same.
I delight in having women in my life with whom I share a Christ-centered, spiritual-family bond. There have been a few relationships with a type of Paul-Timothy ‘knitting’— a kindred-hearted ministry calling and mutual sharpening in the gospel. I’m grateful for the spiritual legacy passed down to me which was infused with a missional heartbeat to give my life away to others; now it’s my turn to entrust it to others.
Spiritual mothering causes you to lean upon God’s grace and strength.
Have you ever been assigned a ministry responsibility for which you were unprepared, clueless, and encouraged only with the words “good luck?” Not very motivating or comforting.
Paul, a faithful spiritual father, was passionate for Timothy to catch the vision for spiritual multiplication (the missional calling for all believers), and to understand that he couldn’t depend upon his feeble personal reserves of wisdom. Paul exhorted Timothy, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
Sister, do you feel insecure or unqualified to offer spiritual encouragement to another woman? I’ve been there! We need God’s grace to entrust his truth to others because it’s a supernatural work to impart the gospel, and supernatural for someone to receive it by faith into their heart; none of this comes naturally to any of us. What’s natural to most of us (the easy road, self-dependence, being wise in our own eyes, etc.) has been crucified through Christ so that HIS life may surge through us into the lives of others!
Spiritual mothering allows you to have ‘multiple pregnancies’!
Women who discover that they are pregnant with two, three or more babies usually respond similarly: “WHAAT?!” It’s a shock, surprise, delight, fear-provoker, and more. The pregnancy will have unique challenges and then there’s the nursing, feeding, and diaper changing that are multiplied. Joy and drama, sweetness and strain are multiplied with each little soul as every parent has their physical, emotional, and mental limitations.
Spiritual mothering allows us to invest in multiple “beloved children” in the Lord simultaneously! Single sisters, this is a unique advantage which God has given to those of us who don’t have any children. I’ve been spurred on by John Piper’s teaching on this point. He brings out the beautiful gospel truth that, “…single men and women in Christ can [uniquely] display by the Christ-exalting devotion of your singleness the truths about Christ and his kingdom that shine more clearly through singleness than through marriage….live for Christ as to make it clearer to the world and to the church, that the family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ…”
What’s your next step?
Prayer? Pursuing someone? Talking this over with a friend? Whatever it is, I urge you to take action. Jesus is with you and will not fail to flood your heart with grace, spiritual strength, and maternal courage as you seek to give yourself for the growth of another.
 Piper, John. Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/single-in-christ, accessed April 15th, 2020. This is the best biblical theology on singleness that I’ve read.
About the Author:
Ellen received her MA in Biblical Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1999 and serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for Harvest USA, a national ministry focused on gospel-centered discipleship and teaching regarding sexuality. Ellen loves ministry to women and is most passionate about mentoring, teaching God’s Word and spiritually nurturing others to walk deeply with Jesus. New Life Presbyterian in Dresher, PA, is her home church.