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….
I have the privilege of working with some of the godliest women in our congregation. The seasoned saints that sit in our church each Sunday are a treasure. Their collective wisdom, derived from walking closely with the Lord through unique experiences, provides such rich material from which to give care to hurting women.
One reader of Help[H]er wrote,
Shepherdesses must be very special people. I’m convinced that I would not be able to do such a demanding task…The women you described must be spiritual giants.
I agree! Although the shepherdesses would probably cringe to hear that. So, it is my pleasure to encourage them to believe God has graciously equipped them with every good gift and they are competent for one another care (2 Tim. 3:17).
And so are you…
k in the day when my pigtails were tied with ribbons, when my knees were constantly brandishing scrapes and scabs, and when (according to my children) dinosaurs frolicked with my pet saber-toothed tiger in the backyard, I discovered the most remarkable toy.
Winter in South Florida ushers in an opportunity for its sweaty residents to throw open windows and suck coolish air into their lungs. Part of our family’s celebration of this temporary break from the heat was hauling out a big box fan. This box fan would be strategically placed so that the delicious fresh air would be pushed down the hall into the bedrooms. This seasonal item became a wonderful addition to my creative play.
The box fan made a wonderful mountain for plastic army men to wage intense battles. Those little green soldiers could survey the land for miles from that height. With the fan running, all sorts of silly voice effects could be made by speaking or singing into the whirling blades. I learned how to speak robot while hanging out with that box fan. But best of all, that box fan helped me FLY!
Like most preschoolers, a blanket fastened around my neck was enough to transform me into the bravest, most powerful hero the planet had ever seen. I could lift heavy objects. I could jump great distances. I could climb higher. I could move faster. Additionally, when I fastened that magic cape around my neck and lay on my belly in front of that box fan, all I had to do was stretch out my arms to feel the wind in my hair as I soared through the cosmos. Exhilarating!
Shaping Little Children
I was not unique as a little one. I’m sure you have witnessed the change that occurs when preschoolers put on superhero capes or masks. You’ve watched them stand up a little taller, march a little braver, and smile a little broader. Inside each person is a desire to be strong, significant, and courageous.
The greatest joy I have as a teacher is being a part of shaping children into the next generation of heroes. Someday these young ones will be future leaders, policy makers, doctors, inventors, soldiers, parents, and business owners. Will they attack life with boisterous passion and heart for the Gospel?
Homeschooling was a lifestyle I never dreamed I would tackle. After all, aren’t homeschoolers the type that sew their own clothing, study dead languages, concoct their own toothpaste formulas, and name all their children obscure Bible names like Beulah and Festus? I was certainly not outfitted for such an undertaking. I can’t sew in a straight line. Crafting gives me hives. And spelling is a struggle, so there’s no way I’m teaching Latin or working with names more challenging than Tom or Pam. Bottom line – I would never homeschool my own kids. Until I did.God has used this journey of homeschooling to grow me. I have learned many creative parenting skills and life lessons. I have learned how to hide for indefinite amounts of time from my children. (I spend A LOT of time with my children. Don’t judge.) I have discovered under-appreciated celebrities like Bill Nye, the Gator Boys, and Barney. I’ve also learned how to sneak an extra half-hour of sleep in the morning by leaving Pop Tarts and juice boxes outside my bedroom door.In all seriousness, homeschooling has given me the opportunity to disciple my children day in and day out. There have certainly been days when my crew acts like their own cut-throat reality show, “Survivor: Homeschool Edition.” But then there are other days full of warm snuggles, delightful books, and heartfelt conversations in which I praise God for these moments I have to pour into my children.Discipling our children is not a separate task from the discipline of parenting. To disciple our children is to teach or train them. No matter how we choose to school our children, no matter whether our children live full-time with us, no matter the age of our children, our primary job as Christian parents is to teach our children to follow after Christ. There is not a separate category devoted to teaching our children the things of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 11:18-19, the Lord gives his people this command:You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Reaching our children’s hearts for the sake of the Gospel should be the primary focus of each day. The Lord never tires of seeking after us. We should be no less diligent in pursuing the hearts of our children.
If I asked, “Who are you discipling in the workplace?” how would you respond? Are you thinking, “Should I even be discipling in the workplace? Shouldn’t discipleship happen in the church? What if I am a full-time mom?”I had similar thoughts over the years. I prided myself in being able to compartmentalize my work-life and church-life. I heard of evangelism in the workplace but discipling in the workplace was a foreign concept until I spent three years in Cambodia on medical missions. There I heard our team leader preach that discipleship began with evangelism when Jesus first evangelized his future disciples from the fishing industry in the Gospels. Since then, God has been growing a heart for discipleship not only with women in the church, but even with pharmacy students and coworkers.Opportunities to Share of ChristI always felt something was amiss while training future pharmacists to become good clinicians. During my first year as a faculty member, I had three students—a Muslim, a Buddhist, and a Jewish student—assigned to me for six weeks. At the end of the rotation, one student asked, “Dr. Jun, you seem to have a lot of peace. Where does that come from?” Inwardly, I was so happy to be asked this, but outwardly, all I could say was, “uhm, you know…” Regrettably, I failed to give an answer for the hope that was in me.While my actions may have brought about curiosity, I failed to use my words to communicate the Gospel. I was not prepared and was ashamed to disclose that I was a Christian at work.