A Salute to Mothers

Many women could have answered this classified ad:

Woman wanted to help in house. 18-hour day. 7-day week. Must have experience in cooking sewing, medicine, child care, and psychology, law, elementary electricity and household repairs, bookkeeping, marketing, and cleaning. Must be strong and willing with happy disposition. No wages. Room and board provided.

Motherhood is both demanding and rewarding.

No one on earth—teacher, preacher, or psychologist—has the same opportunity to mold minds, nurture bodies, and develop potential like a mother. The job, despite its pressures and difficulties, can be overwhelmingly satisfying and amazingly productive since the results of really competent mothering mold and prepare generation after generation.

In the Old Testament, Hannah prayed earnestly for a son. When her prayer was answered, she did not forget her vow to the Lord. Rather, she worked zealously to nurture her child and train him in godly ways so he could serve the Lord all the days of his life. From childhood Samuel faithfully served the Lord with all diligence. The slave girl Hagar loved her son Ishmael devotedly. When they were sent into the wilderness, she cried unto the Lord for the sake of her child. God responded to the love of this rebellious, outcast mother (Gen 16:8-13).

In another era the beautiful and godly mother of John Chrysostom, widowed at a young age, refused many suitors and committed herself totally to rearing her gifted son in the nurture of the Lord. He became the greatest orator of the early church. In a later generation, Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles, turned aside from a public life of her own in order to rear and educate her children. She was incomparably brilliant and well educated and could have attained professional success and perhaps even fame. However, she chose to pour her energies into rearing the large family God had given to her, and her sons shook two continents for Christ.

History has verified that a mother can be instrumental to the salvation or the destruction of her family. She plots its destiny in a unique sense. She can turn her household to good or evil, especially in the lives of her children, with whom she may spend countless hours.

Attributes of a Godly Mother

Every mother needs consistency in character and purpose. She cannot afford to make her decisions based upon the whim of a moment. She needs to be anchored in faith and commitment to the living Lord (1 Tim 1:5).

A mother needs to be dependable and available with first loyalty to husband and children and a high priority for the home (Titus 2:4-5). Dorothy Canfield Fisher said, “A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” Henry Ward Beecher remarked, “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.” Every child needs the security of knowing that someone cares for him above every other earthly endeavor.

Another absolute for every mother is an unselfish and selfless nature. Mothers win most by losing all. By developing the Christlike quality of abandoning personal demands and rights and seeking to serve and minister to those whom God has placed in their lives for their own personal ministry, these unselfish heroines gain worth, wonder, and splendor beyond imagination. Abraham Lincoln often said, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” (see Prov. 31:28).

Survival in motherhood also calls for a sense of humor. Close behind is the need for sensitivity to needs and for thoughtfulness issuing forth in comfort, kind deeds, and respect for personhood even when there is disgust for actions.

Challenge to Mothers

The coming generation will see no more pressing need than a revival of interest in the responsibilities of motherhood. Mothers need to be not only family-oriented but also family-obsessed. The family is not just one of a mother’s responsibilities but should be the highest priority in her life. There is much talk about the virtue in childlessness and the fame in making your own place in the sun, but even in the midst of fading motherhood in the United States, you are hard put to locate a “graying mother” who believes that she made a mistake. You cannot pay a woman to do what mothers do for free. A mother has an irrational commitment, and she receives an intangible reward—not in materialistic benefits that fade but in blessings and honor that will last throughout eternity. In fact, I can honestly say, “Try it—you’ll like it.” That is the guarantee of a mother’s satisfaction from the Lord Himself (cp. Ps 127:3-5).

Epilogue to Children for Mother’s Day

Honor your mother, which is in keeping with the divine plan (cp. Exod 20:12Eph 6:2-3). Shower her with tender affection and gentle courtesies, making her feel like the “very important person” she really is. Express to her in word and deed how much you love her. Notes of love will be deeply appreciated and long cherished. Thank the Lord for giving you a mother suited to your own special needs.

Adapted from: Dorothy Kelley Patterson, A Woman Seeking God (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 145-49.