Woo-hoo, Day 5! Haven’t you just loved this series? I tell you what, I have some pretty wise, talented friends.
They have definitely been hard acts to follow, but it’s finally my turn to share my post in the Mom Life Series!
Ted Tripp, Kevin Leman, James Dobson, Sally Clarkson … These are all people I’ve read and respected for their Godly wisdom on parenting. Motherhood is a tremendous responsibility, and I seek all the advice I can get, especially from those who have gone (and succeeded) before me.
But even the so-called “experts” aren’t perfect. They are human, they are fallible, and they don’t always espouse my beliefs or convictions on certain issues. That’s the thing about blindly following human speakers or authors — they aren’t God. And their word isn’t supposed to be mistaken for His.
But there is someone who is God, and His example can be followed completely and confidently.
That someone is Jesus, and while his humanity makes him perfectly relatable, His deity makes Him perfectly reliable. Of anyone who has ever walked or will ever walk the earth, He is our ideal example in every area of life. And though He was never a mother, there are lessons from his earthly ministry that can be applied to motherhood.
The following five lessons are the greatest I could ever learn from any parenting expert.
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5 MOTHERHOOD LESSONS FROM JESUS’ MINISTRY
He kept His purpose in front of Him
One of the traits I admire most about Jesus in terms of His work on earth is his focus. He knew what He was here to do, and He wasn’t going to let anything or anyone distract Him.
In fact, when Peter insisted that Jesus would not be killed (a reasonable reaction from a loving friend), Jesus replied with this strong reply: “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23)
Wow! That is a serious comeback to someone trying to deter you from your God-given course!
But we should all be so dedicated and firm when it comes to upholding our purpose, especially the purpose of motherhood. Much of society paints a negative picture of motherhood — it’s a burden, it’s a pain, it’s a hindrance, it’s drudgery. At the very least, they promote messages of self-interest and pleasure: “Do what’s good for you!” “You shouldn’t have to do that!” “That’s not fair!” “What do you want? Go get it, no matter the cost!”
Both attitudes, whether openly hostile or subversively contrary to God’s design for motherhood, undermine the purpose of it. And when we let these voices in, we begin to veer off course. Sometimes it’s a sharp left turn, but more often it’s a subtle redirection. But either way, we lose sight of the reason we became mothers in the first place.
We need to be more like Jesus — keeping our eternal purpose in front of us at all times. We need to meditate on it regularly, make every decision in light of it, steep our actions in it.
And when someone or something tries to come against it, even when the argument sounds reasonable or loving, we need to have the courage and boldness to say, “Get away from me, Satan. You are a dangerous trap to me. You are speaking from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
… But He didn’t let his purpose eclipse the people
However, though He dedicated himself 100% to His purpose, He never forgot the most important thing — the people. He never let His mission overshadow His ministry. Jesus had the biggest job of any person who has ever lived and only three years to carry it out, and yet He always stopped to meet the needs that were right in front of Him.
Think about how incredible that is. He had this monumental task in front of Him, and He was busy trying to accomplish it. He needed to spread the message to as many people as possible in those three short years (and He didn’t have the fast forms of travel we have now).
So He needed to make every day, every hour, every minute count. And yet, whenever someone needed Him, He stopped, listened, and addressed their concerns. Not once did He say, “Not now, don’t you see I’m busy? I have too much to do.”
If Jesus — the Son of God, the Savior of the world — could stop what He was doing to care for the people right in front of Him, why do we have such a hard time doing it as moms? How many times have I said, either with words or actions, “Not now, don’t you see I have a job to do?” But not even the most important tasks should eclipse the people God put in my life to tend.
He took time to pray regularly
Jesus also took time out of His very busy schedule to pray regularly. He never said to God, “Father, don’t you know how busy I am? I couldn’t possibly fit in time to pray — how will everything get done? The world isn’t going to save itself!”
Of course not! He knew that prayer wasn’t a luxury or a waste of time; it was His lifeline, the source of His strength. It was a vital component of His day He could not afford to cut.
Do we give prayer the same priority in our lives? Or do we treat it as expendable — nice if we have the time, but the first thing to go if we don’t. Many of us have probably said, at one point in time or another, “I don’t have time to pray! I’m too busy being a mom!”
But if Jesus wasn’t too busy to pray, how are we? He certainly had a lot on His plate, but He knew He needed to make the time for prayer. His mission wasn’t too great to pray; it was too great not to pray.
He knew the importance of alone time
Similarly, Jesus regularly took time to extract himself from the crowds to get away by himself. As I’ve already stated, He was a busy guy, with many places to go, people to reach, and miracles to perform. And yet, He created opportunities for himself to be alone. That took intention, and sometimes a little creativity, because the crowds would always try to follow Him. (Oh, can we ever relate to that as moms!)
The Bible doesn’t explicitly say this, but I believe He was intentional about alone time because He knew it was necessary for His purpose (see #1).
Human reason might argue that in order to reach the greatest number of people, He should have been speaking to the biggest crowds He could, every second he could. But He didn’t. He knew that refueling, recharging, and reconnecting with His Father was vital, and it would lead to even greater effectiveness in His ministry.
As moms, we need to take Jesus’ lead when it comes to breaks and alone time. We think that in order to do the most good, we need to fill every space with productivity, but that simply is not true. That’s a recipe for burnout, fatigue, and unhealthy relationships. Instead, we need to follow Jesus’ example and be intentional about removing ourselves from the crowds (some of which may be in your own homes!) to refuel. Because if Jesus needed it, then we certainly do, too.
He spoke the truth with love and compassion … but He wasn’t afraid to confront issues
Finally, we can take plenty of lessons from Jesus in how he loved, guided, confronted, and even rebuked the people He came to help. And the balance of how to do all of them together can be a very tricky thing.
People like to talk about Jesus’ love, compassion, and mercy. And yes, we certainly could use a lot more of that — in our parenting and in the world at large. He didn’t belittle and He didn’t lash out. He spoke the truth in love. He guided with care and compassion. He freely extended mercy and grace to the forgotten and scorned. He approached sin in a very different way than the judgmental and haughty Pharisees.
But He did address it. And that important fact gets conveniently ignored in some of today’s “love and grace” rhetoric. He loved people without discrimination or limits, no matter their past or their present. But He also loved them enough to correct them. He wasn’t afraid to confront their issues. He told the adulteress in John 8 that He didn’t condemn her … but then He said, “Go and sin no more.”
We can (and should) emulate the same approach in our mothering. We can take a cue from Jesus in the way He loved unconditionally, addressed the need before the sin, and corrected with gentle compassion.
But we shouldn’t let “love” excuse us from saying hard things — from speaking the truth, rebuking sin, and correcting behavior contrary to God’s will. Because true love leads people closer to God, not away from Him, and we have no greater example of this balance for our parenting than Jesus in His earthly ministry.
I am a huge fan of parenting books (though I think I’ll be taking Kristina’s challenge to put them away for a while!). And if you’ve followed The Merry Momma for any length of time, you know I read a lot of them!
But there has only been one teacher in all of history who has been perfect and whose example I have no qualms about following.
That teacher is Jesus, and though He was never a mother, these five lessons are some of the best lessons for motherhood I could ever learn.
There it was – the final post in the Mom Life Series! I hope you enjoyed it!
If you missed any of the others, here is the complete list:
Thanks for joining us! We hope you were inspired and encouraged by our words.
- Two Must-Read Books for Purposeful Parenting
- 4 Ways Being a Parent is Like Being a Coach
- Parenting Isn’t Math: What I Trust When Formulas Don’t Work
- Real Moms…Real Jesus: A Real Mom’s Review