Mother’s Day 2015 - Moms as Mentors
2 Timothy 1: 5
It’s not easy being a mom, is it? A mother was talking to an old varsity friend and said, “I remember before I was married that I had 3 theories about raising children. Now I have 3 children and no theories.” 100 years ago, US President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. He established the day as a time for “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
It’s certainly true that no nation is ever greater than its mothers, for they are the makers of the next generation. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Actually, the hand that rocks the cradle is usually attached to a mother who isn’t getting enough sleep! So today we want to honour moms. We applaud not only your efforts, but who you are.
Having said that, some of you probably didn’t want to come to church today because your mother is no longer here and you really miss her. Others of you have a rough relationship with your mom and you struggle with all the syrupy sentiments in the Mother’s Day cards. Some of you may have a mother who is very sick and you wonder how much longer she’s going to be with you. Maybe you’re a single dad and you hurt for your kids as you watch them struggle. A number of you have experienced the devastating loss of a child’s death. There are probably some mothers that wish they didn’t have kids and I know there are women who would give anything just to have a child. Others of you are grieving the direction your prodigal child is taking. A number of you are flying solo as you work hard to nurture your child’s faith.
Let me say that if you aren’t married or don’t have children you are not inferior. Womanhood is not only about marriage and children. Your worth as a woman goes far beyond your marital status or whether or not you have kids.
Before we jump into our text today I also want to give a “shout-out” to those of you who are raising young children. Some of you are battling bedtimes and wondering when all the whining is going to stop. You’re juggling schedules and running on emotional “empty.” In describing the virtuous woman, Proverbs 31: 15 says that, “she gets up while it is still dark…” and v. 18…her lamp does not go out at night.” Would you take a deep breath right now and listen to these comforting words from the Lord in Isaiah 40: 11? “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” May you know the sweet gentleness of the Shepherd as you love the little lambs in your house.
As we celebrate moms today I can’t stop thinking about the sorrow that moms and dads are experiencing in countries like Nigeria as they worry about the safety of their children who have been kidnapped or have otherwise disappeared.
One of a mother’s greatest needs is the need for significance. Moms want to know that they matter, that they are making a difference.
Here’s a summary of the sermon: A mom can be a spiritual mentor to her children with or without the help of a dad.
Let me introduce you to a young woman named Eunice. [I’ve used what we know about her in Scripture and have taken some liberty where Scripture is silent.] She was raised in a religious home and was greatly impacted by her mother Lois. She loved the stories from the Bible when she was young and enjoyed going to church where she could learn about God. As she approached her teenage years, she became attracted to a dude who was not into religion at all. Against the best wishes of her godly mother, the teaching of her faith and the tug of her conscience, she married the man.
After a couple years, Eunice and her husband had a baby boy they named Timothy. In the meantime, Eunice’s dad died so they asked her mother Lois to come and live with them. Little Timmy was a delight to everyone. Both his mother and grandmother spent hours with him, teaching him the Bible, praying with him and for him, and training him in the things of God, creating a spiritual environment where tiny Tim could flourish.
We don’t really know when Grandma Lois became a follower of Christ but it could have been at Pentecost where we read that 3000 were saved from all over the area. Whenever it happened, she passed her faith on to her daughter Eunice. Acts 16 tells us that she was raised in the Jewish faith and had recently become a Christian. These new believers in turn focused on teaching Timothy who Jesus was. We know from reading the book of Acts that Paul himself took a personal interest in Tim the teenager and, in tandem with his mother and grandmother, led him to saving faith.
Later, Paul and Timothy partner together in ministry as the gospel continues to spread throughout the area. Many years later he writes 2 letters to young Timothy. These letters contain some teaching about how he should conduct himself as a church leader. Paul also does some reminiscing about his relationships. With that as background, let’s turn to 2 Timothy 1: 5 to see how a mother (and a grandmother) can be spiritual mentors to children with or without the help of a dad. We don’t know much about Timothy’s dad other than he was a Greek and not a believer. We’re not told if he deserted the family or if he died or if he was around but just absent spiritually. Incidentally, I’m not suggesting that dads don’t matter. In fact, they matter a lot. On Father’s Day the message will be, “Dads as Disciplers.”
Read - “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
4 observations -
A. Sincere Christ-followers stand out. Paul is in prison and knows his time is short. Many of his friends have deserted him but he remembers Timothy’s sincere faith. That reminds me of 3 John 1: 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
B. Focus on your family first. Granny pointed her daughter to grace and then mom modeled the faith and mentored her own son. The principle is that we must focus on our own family first because our closest neighbours to love are our own family members. After being healed by Jesus, a formerly demon-possessed man begged to go with Him. Mark 5: 19: “Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”
C. Faith is both taught and caught. Notice the 3 uses of the words “lives in.” Genuine faith “lives in” Timothy. This faith first “lived in” his granny and in his mom. Then Paul mentions – “I am persuaded now lives in you also.” Granny Lois and mother Eunice taught Tim and He caught their faith by seeing their sincerity. People listen to our words but they watch the way we live to see if we’re sincere. Do you see the progression here? Faith was passed from grandmother to daughter to grandson. “Life affords no greater responsibility and no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.”
D. There are no perfect moms. “God is awesome. He doesn’t need you to be awesome. He wants you to be obedient.” There are no perfect moms but we serve a Faithful God, don’t we?
Friends, the character of our children tomorrow depends on what we put in their hearts today. If they’re going to live it out we must first pass it on. Moms, your first and most important mission is ministry to your children. Jewish proverb - “One mother achieves more than a hundred teachers.”
Moms, you are on mission. Take the long-view that stretches beyond nappies and homework. Your role is extremely difficult and messy, but what you do matters because motherhood is a mission field.
3 ways to mentor - with or without the help of a dad -
1. Pass along salvation. Even though Lois and Eunice were believers, Timothy needed to come to a point in which he put his faith in Christ. When mothers model genuine faith, an environment is set up whereby children will hopefully be motivated to want that same kind of faith.
Some of you have done the best you could in this regard and your child has gone “prodigal” – I hurt for you. I certainly don’t mean to imply that you’ve done something wrong or that there’s some failsafe formula to follow that guarantees faith in your kids.
A little girl asks her mom a very important question: “Mommy, what is a Christian?” The mother thought for a moment and replied: “A Christian is a person who loves and obeys God, loves their friends, neighbours, and even their enemies. They are kind and gentle and pray a lot. They look forward to going to heaven and think that knowing God is better than anything on this earth. That is a Christian.” The little girl thought for a few moments and asked, “Mommy, have I ever seen a Christian?”
Timothy saw 2 Christians every day! These 2 mothers were fully devoted and completely committed. Timothy knew it. No one knows better than a child whether a parent’s faith is genuine. Do your children and grandchildren see you as a godly guide?
2. Pass along Scripture. Granny and mom not only passed along salvation they also handed off the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3: 15: “And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Mothers, what kind of Bible is your child reading when he or she observes your life? Are you looking for ways to instill a respect for the Word of God into the lives of your children?
3. Pass along serving. Acts 16: 1 – 3. I see some character qualities in Timothy that were no doubt passed down from his mother and his grandmother: He was a strong believer. He is referred to as a “disciple.” A disciple is one who is serious about Christ, not just one who is going through the motions. He was a follower, not just a “fan” of Jesus. He had a good reputation. People knew him as a man of integrity and as a man of the Word. He was rock solid.
He was available. Timothy was mentored and he was ready to minister. He knew it meant leaving home and he knew it meant facing hardship. Paul thought very highly of Timothy and couldn’t wait to unleash him for ministry.
Then Timothy passed it on - 2 Timothy 2: 2: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” The impact of his mom and his granny was actually exponential, wasn’t it? As they poured into him, he poured into others, who in turn mentored others. Mentoring moms and dads, make sure your children know how to minister.
Grandparents Make a Grand Impact
God has designed this relationship to be special. A granny talked about her grandchildren to a man sitting next to her on a plane for 2 solid hours. She showed pictures and described each one in great detail to the man. As the plane was preparing to land, she said, “Oh, I’ve done all the talking, and I’m so sorry. I know you probably have some things you want to say. Please, tell me…what do you think of my grandchildren?”
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is second in influence only to the relationship between parents and children.
1. Grandchildren help us rejoice. Psalm 128: 6: “And may you live to see your children’s children.” One granny said, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d just bypass children and have grandchildren.”
2. Grandchildren are a reward. Proverbs 17: 6: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged…” Someone put it this way: “Your children may have kept you poor, but their children will make you rich.”
3. Grandparents can reinvigorate their grandchildren. One of the best kings God’s people ever had was Hezekiah. Hezekiah’s dad was Ahaz, one of the worst kings. But, he had a grandfather named Jotham who filled in the gap. Thankfully, Hezekiah took after his grandpa and not his dad. The glory of grandparents is that they can fill in the gap. That’s exactly what many of you are doing for your own grandchildren. Even if one generation goes astray, the next generation can be brought back through the godly influence of grandparents. Bless you for standing in the gap for your grandchildren!
If you are a mom or a granny (or dad or grandpa), you are on a mission. The values you leave your children and grandchildren are more important than the valuables you may leave them. A child said to his mom – ‘Mommy, in Sunday School my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see Him, so I’m walking in yours.’