As soon as the Easter cards are packed away in the card stores, Mother’s Day greetings take their place. It is exciting to know that all Christian women have the opportunity to celebrate this special day if they say “yes” to the question that opens this Blog Post.
However, despite the fact that Titus 2:3-5 is an instruction, not a suggestion, to Christian women, few are willing to assume the role of spiritual mother. Excuses range from, “I don’t know that much” to “no one cares what I have to say”; however, when a spiritual mother hides behind these excuses, she is sinning by failing to obey a clear instruction from her heavenly Father. Remembering that an excuse is not a substitute for obedience (1 Sam. 15:22), the woman who is seeking to follow God’s special instruction to women joyfully practices this biblical instruction!
You may ask, “What is spiritual mothering?” The response is simple. Spiritual mothering must move beyond simply having tea together or pursuing a one-on-one Bible study. If it is defined only as teaching or studying a book together, the importance of relationship, so critical to the spiritual parenting relationship, is missed. Just as providing physical nourishment is characteristic of the biological parenting, so imparting spiritual nourishment is vital to being a spiritual mother. Verna Birkey, my spiritual mother, shared with me, “Nourishment is something that feeds my soul hunger so that life will be full, healthy and growing, instead of fainting and ebbing away.” The spiritual mother offers nourishment through encouragement, admonition, and reproof.
Encourage is derived from the Greek word protrepo, meaning “to urge forward or to persuade.” The spiritual mother acknowledges that though the spiritual daughter is benefiting from her experience, one day she may surpass her. The spiritual mother’s attitude is like that of John in relation to the Lord Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). She becomes her spiritual daughter’s strongest cheerleader!
Admonition is the Greek word nouthesia meaning “training by word,” whether of encouragement, or, if necessary, by reproof or remonstrance. Colossians 3:16 instructs believers “to let the word of Christ dwell rightly in them, so that they might be able to teach and admonish one another and to abound in the praises of God.” The spiritual mother will be careful to use the Word of God as a source for any admonition.
Elegmos, the Greek word for reproof, refers to conviction or rebuke. The two verses of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 provide the biblical pattern for reproof—“all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Regardless of your heritage or marital status, if you are a Christian, Titus 2:3-5 clearly instructs you to be a spiritual mother. Let’s examine some of the basic virtues you are to exemplify using the letters that form the word MOTHER as our foundation:
M—modeling the character qualities that you want your spiritual daughters to embrace (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1).
O—obedient to those having authority over you (Heb. 13:17).
T—teachable (Psalm 27:11, 86:11) and capable of teaching (2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 2:4).
H—humble (Prov. 16:19; Isa. 57:15).
E—exhorting and encouraging (1 Thess. 5:14; Heb. 3:13, 10:19-25).
R—reputation for good works (Prov. 31:29; 1 Tim. 5:3-10).
I pray that you are excited about assuming the role of spiritual mother! Having spiritual children all over the world, I know both the joy and pain of this biblical relationship. Kelsey’s Korner provides some timely advice for mentoring those who may fall into the “Tax Collectors and Sinners” categories.
When I think of mentoring relationships, often the vision that comes to mind is a bit idyllic. I picture an older and a younger woman laughing, praying, and reading the Bible together over a frothy latte in a quiet coffee shop. I imagine the process as sweet and peaceful—the older woman donating her wisdom to the young woman who is eager to learn and humble to receive correction. However, we live in a sinful world. While there are mentoring relationships like this, more commonly mentorship leaves women feeling raw and exposed and is frequently filled with more tears than laughter. In addition, the pain is not just for the one being mentored. It is a wearisome task carrying the weight of someone else’s sins, pains, and burdens. You will struggle with knowing how to help, what wisdom to pass on, and which sins to confront. You may become discouraged from the hardness of your mentee’s heart.
Because of this, some mentors do not confront sins. They long for mentorship that is comfortable and painless, not realizing their lack of accountability has made their mentoring fruitless. Over time, the mentor not only turns a blind eye to sin, but also led by her desires to people-please, she begins to accept the sin as familiar and not a big deal. She chooses instead to focus on the love of God by scooting His holiness and justice under the rug (Gal. 5:16-6:1).
“OK”, you say, “so we do need to confront sins.” But is it possible to confront too much sin? If so, how much is too much, and where do we begin? Some women ponder these questions and decide all sin is too much sin, therefore it should all be confronted and worked on at the same time. Not only is this overwhelming to a woman deeply rooted in sin, but it is a powerless endeavor without the rule and reign of Christ (Rom. 8:5-8).
So where is the line? How do we disciple those in serious sin without holding them to a standard they cannot yet attain? Here are some tips:
- For the unsaved and baby believers alike, focus less on the actual sins and more on the heart idols that drive the sins (Ps. 51:17). What are they worshipping? What drives them to sin? A helpful book to study with your mentee is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.
- With baby Christians, start back at the basics. Discuss from Scripture who God is, who we are in relation to Him, why sin is offensive to the Lord, and what Christ did for us on the cross. “How then should we live?” is the next, significant question that stems from a heart that yearns to honor the Lord.
- With unbelievers, begin at the basics. Second Corinthians 5:17 reminds us “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Without the aid of the Holy Spirit, all our works are as filthy rags before our God (Isa. 64:6). The power to conquer sin is given only to the justified child of God. If your mentee is not saved, this is imperative for effective change.
With the help of the Holy Spirit working in you both, over time you will be able to put off the deeds of the darkness and to assume the armor of light (Rom. 13:12). This process takes time. Be patient, pray without ceasing, lead by example, and be quick to show compassion, remembering Christ’s example of patiently loving the tax collectors, the sinners, and the least of these.
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “Since God’s Spirit is resident in my life I can hear God’s voice as He guides me through all circumstances.”