Have you watched the popular Disney movie "Tangled"? In it a demented mother Gothel impressively sings her heart out to the showstopper song, "Mother Knows Best." The song spins a tale of how Gothel knows exactly what is best for her captive daughter. Gothel is a picturesque representation of the selfishness that runs rampant in this sinful world. She is about as ungodly as it comes. Yet what I find so fascinating is that this culture often strives for the very things that made Mother Gothel disgusting. Mother Gothel's entirety could be summarized by "a selfish pursuit of oneself." Yet that is exactly what is praised in the world's definition of a good mother. The world preaches putting ourselves first. The bible says differently. How do we be a godly mother in an ungodly world?
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Being a Godly Mother Through Missional Motherhood
Motherhood is the ministry of glorifying God through nurturing the hearts of our families. Gloria Flurman in her book, calls this Missional Motherhood, Nurturing doesn't just belong to the biological mothers, it belongs to all women. We are all daughters of Eve and by extension, all have mothering or nurturing instincts. We were made for nurturing the world.
When we look at motherhood as a ministry it becomes a trajectory of sharing the gospel with our families and everyone around us. Yet the biblical role of a mother is very purposeful. She has Christlike qualities that flow out through the fruits of the spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
Self: The Destroyer of a Godly Mother
The preoccupation with self is a destroyer of the home. So often we are busy building ourselves up, promoting self, building our careers, engaging in self-care, creating a beautiful home, or any number of high callings that we forget our greatest calling.
Our greatest calling as believers in Jesus Christ is to pursue Jesus and bring glory to God. Bringing glory to someone besides ourselves is in direct conflict with the world's determination to pursue the best version of ourselves. Yet, God calls us to bring glory to him through every part of our lives, including motherhood.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
What Does the Bible Say About a Godly Mother?
In 1928, a man named W.L. Caldwell preached a sermon to mothers and in it, he made a great claim that after Jesus the mother was God's greatest gift to mankind.
"Well may we pause to pay honor to her who, after Jesus Christ, is Gods best gift to men - Mother. It was she who shared her life with us when as yet our members were unformed. Into the valley of the shadow she walked that we might have the light of life."Rev. WL Caldwell, 1928, page 339
Could that be true? Is one of God's greatest gifts the mother? If so, that is not only a high honor but an unimaginable responsibility. Caldwell went on to say that "no nation is ever greater than it's mothers." I did fairly good research on this, and I cannot find anything in the Bible that specifically backs this up, and yet there is great wisdom in letting the words of this preacher rest upon us. Our influence as mothers is both great and a great honor.
It would be lovely if the Bible ever came right out and gave us a bullet-pointed list of what a good mother means in the bible, but it doesn't. Instead, it gives us extraordinary examples of godly mothers.
- Sarah - The mother who patiently waited (Genesis 18 ESV)
- Hagar - The mother who endured and obeyed (Genesis 21 ESV)
- Jochebed - The mother who planned (Exodus 2 ESV)
- Naomi - The mother who persevered (Ruth ESV)
- Elizabeth - The mother who was faithful (Luke 1 ESV)
Just like Paul did in Hebrews 11, I could go on and list more of the heroes of motherhood in the bible. The list could be extensively long. God gave us many amazing women, who were sinful, yet left legacies behind for our benefit.
What Does the Word Mother Mean in the Bible
The literal translation of mother in Hebrew is "the first or strong water giver." But it really goes deeper than that as we look at the significance of being a nurturer in Genesis 3:20.
In Genesis 3:20, we are all defined as daughters of eve which means "mother of all living." There is no distinction between mother and non-mother. We are all made to nurture life. Not only our bodies are specifically made to physically nurture life, but nurturing is an instinct in our behavior as well. You are a nurturing mother even if you do not physically hold a biological child in your arms.
What Does it mean to be a Godly Mom?
We will never be perfect moms, but we can be in pursuit of godly qualities that lead us to be good moms. The world will tell us that we need to put ourselves first to make something of ourselves. However, the Bible says differently.
#1 A Godly mother will pursue the Gospel first
"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 1Corinthians 15:2-3 ESV
It may be hard to believe, but Jesus knows what motherhood is like. Think about some common complaints about motherhood.
- I'm always interrupted. Some of Jesus' greatest miracles happened due to an interruption. He was always being interrupted.
- I'm so tired. Remember the storm on the sea that Jesus slept through. Even in your exhausted state, could you have slept through something like that?
- I'm never alone. Crowds were constantly following Jesus, he rarely had time to himself.
What does Jesus know about the peanut-butter-and-jelly life of a mom? Plenty!"Real Moms, Real Jesus."
#2 A Godly Mother Will Treasure the Word of God
The word of God is the lifeblood of a Jesus follower. By it, we learn what it means to walk in this world pursuing God's truth. It is also essential for a mother to be drenched in the word of God.
But ladies, let us not forget that we are all in different seasons. I have a toddler, a baby, a spouse, a household, and a job. Years of my life were spent with very consistent quiet time and pursuing the Word of God. Those were fruitful years, and now they are here to aid me when I cannot spend consistent quiet time in the Word of God. Sometimes the only way I get snippets of God's word is while I nurse a baby or give my toddler a bath.
Remember your season, and don't compare your season to someone else's. If you are a nursing mom, you might treasure the Word of God by reading a verse on your phone while you nurse. Maybe you have grown children. You can treasure the Word of God differently now.
“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. 19 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. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."Deuteronomy 11:18-21 ESV
#3 A Godly Mother will Find Contentment in Christ
Dear mother, this one is a tough one. Contentment does not come easily to most. In our fast-paced world, where technology is at our fingertips, we are bombarded with longings for the next best thing.
I found myself in this situation recently directly after giving birth to my second child. The itself was traumatic and my emotions took a slam when my husband decided it was time to move. For months leading up to the birth of our baby I had nested in our tiny home, I painted mountains on the nursery walls, I made a second cloth diaper station, shelves were created for additional baby supplies, and our tight home looked even tighter. But I loved it. I was ready to bring my baby home and revel in the contentment of having two healthy boys.
God had other plans. I still cannot figure out exactly what God was trying to teach me in our abrupt plans, additional hospital stays with our newborn, and finally a large move all within 30 days; but I do know my contentment took a direct hit.
Contentment that does not lie in Christ, is simply an idol waiting to become sin. My home had become my contentment and even though I still long to be back in my small and cozy home, I see the blessing of God pushing me out of my contentment and back into his loving arms.
"O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you."Psalm 38:9 ESV
#4 A Godly Mother will Discipline Herself in the Faith
Barbara Hughes forever changed the way I think about the disciplines of the faith with her book "Disciples of a Godly Woman." In it she goes into detail on sixteen disciples that make up a faithful and godly woman. These are not disciples that lead to legalism, they are disciples that when in pursuit of, will draw us closer to Jesus and deeper in our faith. Barbara puts it this way,
"Legalism is self-centered; discipline is God centered."Disciples of a Godly Woman, pg 14
If we do not discipline ourselves in faith, we will become stagnant or empathetic. Early motherhood is a prime time for this to happen. Amidst the dirty laundry, dirty diapers, dirty dishes, and screaming kids, we can often place disciples on the back burner as faithfully parenting our children seems disciple enough!
The Apostle Paul tells us to train in godliness.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV
Training never is instant, and training often changes as we meet goals. We can apply this to the disciples of the faith during different seasons of life. The way we train in godliness will be different when we are single and 20 something than when we are 30 something with kids.
Disciplines of a Godly Woman
Some spiritual disciples to think about are:
- The Discipline of the Gospel
- The Disciple of Submission
- The Disciple of Worship
- The Discipline of Propriety
- The Disciple of Marriage
#5 Godly Mothers will Love their Husbands Well
"Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”Genesis 2:18
Submission gets a bad rap. Just the word will often make women cringe. We instinctively will nurture our children, nurture our home, and nurture those around us, but instinctively using those same skills in our marriage is often an area of lifetime growth.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to be submissive, respectful, and loving wives.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”Ephesians 5:31 ESV
Although I am still young in my marriage and have much to grow up in, there is one thing on marriage that dare I say, I might have a grasp on. Notice in the above passage that the two become one flesh. One flesh. One.
When I hold my babies in my arms, there is a powerful bond. But the Bible does not ever say we are one with our children. Our children were made from both husband and wife, the bond is strong, but oneness is reserved for marriage. Showing our children that our husbands come before them is one of the greatest reflections of godly living, we can give.
We Need Godly Mothers
Being a godly mother in an ungodly world is not easy because this world is not perfect. We are waiting for our perfect Savior to redeem this broken and ungodly world. This world is not our home, but while we are in it, learning godliness in motherhood can impact the world.
What are ways that you have found to be a godly mother? What are ways you have found to combat this ungodly world in your mothering?