The Word "Mother": Noun or Verb?
Have you ever asked a temper-tantruming toddler to “use their words”? Me too. When we talk about theology and motherhood, we not only need to use our words; we need to use the right words. We need to be intentional when we use our words, especially words about who Jesus is and what he is doing. But we also need to be intentional when we use words for motherhood. When I say “mother,” I want you to think of it as a verb too. When you read the word nurture, I want you to remember everything that it involves: discipling, serving, caregiving, mothering, teaching, showing hospitality, and more.
Mothering (or nurturing) is a calling not just for women who have biological or adopted children. Mothering is a calling for all women. Every Christian woman is called to the spiritual motherhood of making disciples of all nations. Our nurturing is, by nature, missional.
Maybe those words make the mantle of your many responsibilities feel a bit heavier: caring for an ailing parent, counseling a new friend at church, worrying about a wayward son, encouraging your weary husband, serving your suffering neighbor, or praying for a struggling missionary.
When I think about my role in nurturing those around me (and those neighbors who are on the other side of the world), I can feel my proud back being bent beyond its capacity. Yes, Lord, break our pride and cultivate in us humble hearts as we sacrificially mother our children, minister to our friends, and reach the lost.
Yes, Lord, break our pride and cultivate in us humble hearts as we sacrificially mother our children, minister to our friends, and reach the lost.
Our faith needs to be strengthened with real hope—not fake hope. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already had enough taste tests of the fake stuff to know that you don’t have time for fake hope. All of the flimsy inspirations and fake hope the world offers can’t hold the weight of stress, fatigue, sin, labor pain, or grief.
Fake hope can’t quell your fears while you sit in the waiting room while your loved one is in surgery. Fake hope can’t pick up your broken heart from the floor after you watch a video about abortion. Fake hope can’t stay the tide of death that creeps up on us and our loved ones the longer we live on this earth. Fake hope can’t look to the past and the future, praising Jesus. Fake hope can only make us look back and say things like, “How could I have been such a fool?” Would the Lord thrill our hearts as we remember again and again that we need the never-disappointing, real hope of the gospel!
As we taste more and more of the real hope of the gospel, our appetite for fake hope will start to disappear. We need to remember that this kind of growing pain, while painful, is ultimately a joy. God creates each of our days with opportunities to be glad-hearted, life-giving, glory bearers. Only Christ is strong enough to accomplish this work in and through us.
Missional motherhood isn’t an exercise in muscling up strength to do stuff for God. Missional motherhood is a walk of faith where the weak (that’s all of us) must keep before them the scenic view of the cross.
This article is adapted from Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman.
Spiritual mothering may involve mentoring and coaching, but it is broader.
Our responsibilities may have shifted, but our role in the kingdom remains unchanged.
God has created and equipped women to nurture the life he creates—both biological and spiritual.