Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďON MOTHERHOOD AND MINISTRYĒ

First Thessalonians 2.7-9, 12

 

Happy Motherís Day to each of you moms here today. Let me happily remind you moms that, according to Godís Word, your children are identified as ďthe fruit of the womb.Ē[1] Psalm 127.3 reads, ďLo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.Ē

Though many people have been sorely propagandized to believe otherwise, your kids really are rewards that God has given to you. What an astonishing challenge, what a breathtaking task, it is to be responsible for the health of a child, for the nurturing of a child, for the formation of a childís personality, for training a child to be a functional individual, and to be useful to God to be the first guide in your youngsterís life to point him to Christ. Galatians 3.24 reveals this to us about Godís Law: ďWherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.Ē However, long before a young child can be taught Godís Law, he is taught his motherís law. Proverbs 1.8 challenges every young lad to ďforsake not the law of thy mother.Ē And the goal of the motherís law, as conceived by God? The same as the Law of Moses, to serve as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

Sad to say, not everyone is born to a great mom. Not every mom is equal to the challenge set before her by God. Some moms are neglectful, and other moms are unconcerned. More and more, we find women who have born children, but who are as devoted to their offspring after their birth as reptiles are to the eggs they lay before resuming their hunt for food. However, it is not always the fault of the mother. Oftentimes a girl feels that just because she is capable of conceiving and delivering a child she therefore possesses the skills and wisdom of being a good mother. Of course, that is not true, since mothers are more than biological baby factories and babies are more than dolls. Therefore, such girls as think they are ready to be moms are just ignorant, and have not been taught better.

One of the more frustrating aspects of being a mother is the inability of men, as well as the inability of women who are not themselves mothers, to appreciate the wearisome burden of being a mom. With no concept of what it is like to carry a baby in your womb for nine months, having no grasp of or willingness to grab hold of those things related to delivering a child, and then being challenged to participate in the gritty parts of raising a child afterwards, sometimes moms can get really irritated and discouraged by the failure of men and female non-moms to really appreciate the importance, the uniqueness, and the psychic fatigue that is so often associated with the right kind of motherhood.

Being a mom is not at all difficult for women who just donít care what kind of a mom they are, and who have no concern for the outcome of the children they do not pour their lives into. However, the mom who cares, the mom who tries, the mom who sacrifices, the mom who toils, the mom who understands more than most what she is doing, is a woman who knows, in a different way than any man or non-mom will ever fully grasp, what it is like to live your life for others.

Turn to First Thessalonians 2.7, and you will see the Apostle Paulís description of real motherhood:

 

7      But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8      So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

9      For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

 

Verses 10 and 11 speak to fatherhood, with verse 12 showing us the common goal of well-instructed fathers and mothers for their children.

 

12     That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

 

Paulís description is of a woman who is not only a mother, but also a nurse, and therefore possessing skills and training, as well as the love and dedication needed to labor both nights and days to be a successful mother. Verse 12, of course, shows the goal of every good mother, that her child would walk worthy of God. No mother wants to go through all she must endure just to see her child end up bound for Hell. Of course, as I have mentioned on many occasions before when speaking to this passage, which is my personal favorite in all the Bible on the issue of motherhood, the Apostle is actually using what his readers knew about well-trained mothers to instruct them about his own gospel ministry to them.

Look again to verse seven, where he compares his gentleness to being like a nurse with her own children. Verse eight mentions his affectionate desire and how dear they were to him, as would be the case with a mother toward her child. In verse 9, he reminds his readers that, like any dedicated mom, so was his ministry conducted day and night, with labor and also with travail, going here so far as to compare his ministry with them to going through labor.

Ladies, particularly you mothers here with us today, have you before today been aware of the parallels that exist between the gospel ministry and motherhood? Have you before today ever contemplated the reality that God so designed motherhood and the gospel ministry that the two would in many ways be comparable? Ever thought about how those who are not moms simply do not know motherhood that you have to be one to know what motherhood is really about? Pastors have the same thoughts concerning church members, that they never really understand what it is like to be a pastor.

However, though no man will ever truly grasp motherhood, and no woman will ever truly grasp the gospel ministry of a pastor, there are astonishing parallels between the two vocations, with moms probably being more capable understanding my ministry than your husbands ever will, and me probably being more able to understand motherhood than your non-mom girlfriends can (certainly more than your husbands ever will).

On this Motherís Day, 2009, relax for a few minutes while I draw some obvious parallels between motherhood and the gospel ministry:

 

First, CONSIDER WHAT I HAVE CHOSEN TO CALL ANTICIPATION

 

At some point in a girlís life she begins to get her mind around the fact that she is put together differently than boys, perhaps because the boys she knows are increasingly aware that she is obviously not as much like them as political liberals and feminists in the 1960s and 1970s were loathe to admit. Along with that realization comes something in that young womanís heart and mind that I will refer to as longing. That longing does not have to be a powerful urge or compulsion, and it can be repressed for years in some cases. However, at some point that girl, young woman, lady, begins to long for a child, or children. We typically refer to it as the ticking of her biological clock. Please understand that this longing is not unlike the longing a minister of the gospel has for spiritual offspring. As every girl wants, and eventually craves unless there is something terribly wrong with her, fruit from her own body to care for, to love, to raise, so every God-called preacher craves spiritual offspring from his gospel preaching.

Associated with the longing is also the learning. To be sure, some girls are raised in homes where they receive wonderful opportunities for learning about motherhood, the practical skills, as well as the personal philosophy and theology that necessarily goes into rearing children. Some girls, however, do not come from such homes. They sometimes discover after reaching adulthood and in some cases after they have delivered children that being a mom is much more than biology. So, the learning, which can begin early on and can also be delayed until much later, is pursued. Same thing with a preacher. Some preachers go to school and then enter the ministry. Others go into the ministry and then pursue learning with a vengeance. With moms, as well as with gospel ministers, the learning is really lifelong, and no one ever learns it all.

Accompanying longing and learning is loving. Girls begin loving their babies long before they are ever born, before they are conceived. This all mixes together with the anticipation of being a mother. Let me tell you that the same is true with a God-called minister of the gospel. Your pastor began to love you in his heart and mind before he ever saw you for the first time, before you ever thought about attending any service where he preached. It is in the anticipation, you see, that both a young woman and a preacher understand so well, because we are so gripped by what lay in store for us, those ones for whom we are filled with God-given love.

The final part of anticipation, with its longing, learning, and loving in advance, is leading. From the time you were a little girl you played with dolls and engaged in roll playing, imagining yourself providing leadership in the life of your future baby. You may not have thought about it at the time, just as young preachers do not completely think through their roll playing and imagining, but you were preparing for leadership with your dolls and the dialogs you carried on with them. Remember rebuking your doll for being bad? You were practicing being a mom someday, just like the Apostle Paul imagined what his ministry in Philippi would be like before he ever entered the city, and just as I did and have continued to do for the last twenty-three and one-half years that I have been here.

Anticipation. Itís exciting. Itís dreaming. Itís praying without consciously praying, as every mother has done, as has every preacher of the gospel.

 

Next, THERE IS THE PHASE I HAVE CHOSEN TO CALL EXPECTATION

 

Understanding that the parallels are not exact, but close enough to deserve the Apostle Paul drawing the comparison, anticipation can begin while a girl is still very young and continues into marriage until she discovers that she is pregnant, that she is expecting. The gospel minister anticipates from the time he recognizes his call to the ministry, though his anticipation never ends until he has delivered his last sermon. Expectation comes for a woman, when she realizes she is carrying a baby. Expectation comes for a gospel minister, when he senses someone of those he preaches to being dealt with by the Holy Spirit.

Notice three similarities the young woman and the preacher have during their expectation phase, when she is carrying a baby, and when the preacher senses that someone in his audience is no ordinary and inattentive listener:

First, there is the hope. When a young woman knows for sure she is going to have a baby her hope kicks in and her imagination runs completely wild. If itís a boy! If itís a girl! ďWhat if theyíre twins?Ē ďOh, Lord, I donít want to be an octomom.Ē Light or dark? Tall or short? Slender or big-boned? Athletic or geeky? That is not unlike a preacher. Whenever someone shows unusual interest in the truth, the preacher immediately begins to envision what kind of Christian that person would make, where that person will fit into the ministry, and what of the various potentionals for service he or she might have. All these thoughts run through a momís mind, and a preacherís mind, too.

Along with hope during the pregnancy, there is also fear. ďOh, Lord, I donít care if itís a boy or girl; I just want my baby to be healthy.Ē Then you get paranoid about being around sick people, or frightened that you may fall and hurt your unborn baby, or not eat the right foods. Depending on your personality, you can dwell on the millions of things that can go wrong, giving rise to all sorts of fears. Preachers do the same. Do you know how many thousands of people began to listen carefully and show an interest in their soulís safety, causing me to hope that one might be the one? Then, something caused them to fall out. That, of course, is the constant fear with the preacher, that the lost man will fall out, that the lost woman will fall out. Why so? Because as a mother loves her unborn baby, so a preacher loves those he preaches to, loves you even before meeting you.

This results in discipline. The fear, combined with hope, results in self discipline. Moms have to take their prenatal vitamins. Moms have to eat right and stop the bad health habits. Moms have to watch their moods and emotions, because it affects the baby. Moms have to take their daily walk, so they can more easily handle the pregnancy, so they can do better during labor and delivery, and so they can recover more quickly after the delivery. Preachers need self-discipline, as well. The surprising need for a preacherís discipline is related to knowing how much to say and not to say. How much truth do you present, so that you satisfy this personís inquiring mind, but at the same time do not overwhelm him with facts?

All through the pregnancy, the young motherís hopes, fears, and discipline come into play, with first this and then that dominating her thinking. So, too, does the preacherís hopes, and fears, and his concerns about the proper restraint when ministering grace to the hearer, dominate his thoughts.

 

Third, AFTER THE BIRTH, OR THE NEW BIRTH AS THE CASE MAY BE, COMES THE PREPARATION

 

The birth of the child is dramatically more certain than the new birth of the Christian, for obvious reasons. Though there are no fake people, there are fake Christians. Though there is no mistaking when a birth has occurred, there can be many questions surrounding a new birth. However, once a birth has taken place, and when there is evidence that a new birth has happened, the parallels between motherhood and the ministry resume.

First, of course, comes nursing. Moms need to breast feed their children, for more reasons than used to be thought. Motherís milk is nutritious. Motherís milk enables her baby to benefit from his motherís immune system. The whole process of nursing creates a bonding scenario that simply does not occur any other way. What many oftentimes overlook, however, is the simple fact that when a mother nurses her child she is giving of herself. It is her time, her convenience, her body, her nourishment, her immunity, the soothing sound of her voice, and the gentle and comforting beat of her heart that the baby benefits from. There are more parallels here with the gospel ministry than you might think. First Peter 2.2 urges Christians, ďAs newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.Ē Not too many verses later, we read from the other side of the transaction the responsibility of the gospel minister to, ďFeed the flock of God which is among you.Ē[2] Though certainly different when it comes to physical intimacy, the benefit to the eager and spiritually hungry Christian from the gospel ministerís life experiences, and his study, and his prayers, as well as his heartbeat for the Lordís service, most assuredly does parallel the nursing mother and her child. Does she do mothering, or is she a mother? Does he do pastoral stuff, or is he a pastor? As nursing is only one aspect of, but clearly shows, a motherís giving of herself to her child, so gospel ministry is a giving of that preacherís self to the members of his flock.

In addition to nursing, there is also correcting. Mothers are almost constantly correcting their very young children, especially when they start walking. The most frequently used word for any mother is ďNo,Ē as she sets down limits on behavior, and circumscribes boundaries of safety and wisdom for her youngster. The same is also true for a pastor with the baby Christian. To be sure, there must be encouragement from both mothers and pastors, and instruction to be sure. However, there must also be correcting from both mothers and pastors, for just as a little child as no sense of danger and threats to physical safety, so the Christian is exactly the same with respect to many spiritual dangers and threats to spiritual well-being.

Then, of course, there is the nasty task of cleaning the child. Oh, how babies can get filthy in a hurry. If it is not vomiting, or diarrhea, it will be dog poop or bugs. My mother used to tell of walking into my bedroom when I was about nine months old, where I as standing in my crib, with wasp legs sticking out of my mouth. On another occasion, my brother and I made mud pies to eat. However, Christians are no less prone to defilement, and in need of personal cleansing. The question is how is a Christian to be cleansed from personal defilement and various sins? Is it not interesting that many who claim they have been Christians for years have never been much concerned with such cleansing? However, the cleanliness of the child of God is a major concern for the minister of the gospel. Why is this so important? Psalm 24.3-4:

 

3      Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4      He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

 

Moms and pastors do what they do because they are preparing their children, their flock, for the future, which brings us to my last point.

 

Finally, THE PRESENTATION

 

That mom works and toils, stays up nights and sacrifices untold times, and for what? She has something in mind for her baby to grow up to. After all, what kind of mother would not have hopes, dreams, and aspirations for her baby to someday fulfill? To be sure, reasonable moms know their children will not always become what they envision them to be as adults, but being a mother without having personal goals for your youngster is not really mothering that child. Does not every mother, or at least should not every mother, hope and wish and want her boy to grow up to someday be a fine husband to a wonderful daughter-in-law? As well, does not every mother, or at least should not every mother, hope, wish, and want her girl to grow up to someday be a lovely wife to some great son-in-law? Oh, how it breaks the heart of every mother to learn that her daughter, or to learn that her son, has soiled herself with someone she is not married to. That is not what you stayed up nights holding your baby girl for. You did not spend all those hours going back and forth to Urgent Care with that boyís earaches just so he could sleep with some floozy he is not married to. Moms want to present their children someday to the man or woman they marry.

It is much like that for a gospel minister, believe it or not. In Second Corinthians 11.2, Paul shows his innermost ambitions and desires as a gospel minister to the Corinthian Christians: ďFor I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.Ē Do you think a preacher goes through the nonsense he endures, suffers the disappointment that is his constant companion, just so some Christian will fall out or fall away, or move away to be seen no more? No. As every normal mother wants to see her child properly married off to the right person, so every gospel minister earnestly desires to present those he ministers to to the Savior someday.

To be sure, I know that this is only accomplished by Godís grace working in your life. We see this in Jude 24: ďNow unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory. . . .Ē However, just as every mom knows that her child has his own ideas about doing things, and she finally has no control over his decisions, that boy or that girl is still her boy or her girl. She has ownership because of her role in that personís life. Try telling a mom that kid is not her son or her daughter. So it is with any gospel minister, which explains why we take betrayal and disappointment the way mothers take it with their kids. So much love, so much investment, and so much concern.

 

What do you think now, mom? Are there not some real parallels between motherhood and the ministry? A great deal of unappreciated sacrifice and hard work, a lot of personal investment into the lives of others, and a great deal of both disappointment and delight in the end. You anticipate it happening. Then there is the time of expectancy. Then you work hard during the preparation phase of that person for the future, by nursing, by correcting, and by cleansing. Then your desire is to present that person, to a spouse in the case of a mother with her child, and to the savior in the case of the gospel minister. Right in the middle of motherhood is the actual birth of your baby, just as the new birth is right in the middle of the gospel ministry. However, while the birth of your baby is among the most natural things that can happen, the new birth that transforms a sinner into a child of God is a wondrous miracle that can only be worked by God. In James 1.18, we see that when God works the miracle of the new birth to make a new Christian, He always uses His Word, the Bible: ďOf his own will begat he us with the word of truth.Ē Let me quickly show you how this works.

Central to the Word of God is a kernel of truth known as the gospel, the good news that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again from the dead for our sins. The reason Jesus suffered, bled, died as He did was to Substitute Himself for sinners, and pay their sin debt, so God could righteously and justly forgive our sins instead of punishing us for our own sins. When the gospel contained in the Word of God is preached so that men hear, they can then respond to that declaration of truth by seeing their sinfulness and desperation and turning for their salvation to the One Who conquered death on their behalf, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and trusting Him. So you see, there is no essential conflict between motherhood and ministry. Good moms want what is best for their babies, and gospel ministers want what is best for them as well. Mothers deal with the physical and emotional side for the most part, while gospel ministers address spiritual concerns for the most part.

However, the reason for the parallel that exists between motherhood and ministry is that they are supposed to be, in Godís great plan, so very complimentary. Mom, I want you to realize that it is not too late for the gospel ministry and your motherhood to compliment each other in a marvelous way, because there is a special place in the Saviorís heart for every mother, as we see so often in Godís Word.

Let me guide you to Christ. Let me introduce you to my savior. Even if your children are already raised, there is time for you to be a wonderful Christian grandmother. Make this Motherís Day the best day of your life.

Come talk to me after we have concluded this service and emptied this auditorium, and join forces with me to see your children, and perhaps your grandchildren, someday presented faultless to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.



[1] Genesis 30.2

[2] 1 Peter 5.2



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org