Behind every pastor are countless individuals who invested in them, mentored them, and showed them what it looks like to represent Jesus Christ in the world. Like our biological mothers, spiritual mothers take us by the hand and show us how to walk. They nourish our faith with simple acts of love and push us in the direction of God’s calling. Amy Simpson writes this about spiritual mothers:
Titus 2:3–5 gives a brief glimpse of the importance of this role in the church, with Paul instructing Timothy to ask older women to act in the lives of their younger counterparts. Both men and women need spiritual mothers. In the early days of the church—with few models to follow—people needed spiritual mothers and fathers to teach them how to be Christians. In modern times, this role seems just as important: Many young people live far away from their parents, and naturally occurring intergenerational community is rare.
To honor the spiritual mothers who invest in pastors everywhere and to paint a picture of this role at its best, we asked several pastors to describe the women who nurtured them in ministry. Their stories reveal the immeasurable impact of spiritual motherhood on the leadership of the church.
Senior pastor at Canaan Community Church in Chicago, Illinois
When I think about spiritual mothers in my life, only one person comes to mind: Ms. Anne Hudson. She was one of the original singers in Chicago’s first gospel chorus, founded by Thomas A. Dorsey at the Historic Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago. She was a no-nonsense kind of lady, but she always seemed to have a soft spot in her heart for me. I remember one Sunday when I came to church with some beat up Payless loafers, and she looked down at my feet and said, “Baby, you got to give the Lord better than that.” She took me straight to Macy’s to buy me a pair of designer dress shoes. I was so proud of those shoes. I must have worn them every Sunday.
She nurtured me in so many ways, telling me to walk with my head up and encouraging me to sing when I was ashamed of my voice. She would say, “If God blessed you with a voice, you better use it or you’ll lose it.” She also knew when to push me. After I became a pastor, she called me over to her apartment. With a stern face she said, “Son, God has called you to be a preacher. There will be many distractions that will try to take you off course. But if God called you to preach, you better preach! Music is good, but God called you to preach.” She constantly reminded me that my call to preach was of utmost priority. I am so thankful for spiritual mothers who know that the recipe for success is just the right amount of nurture and pushing. Rest on, Ms. Hudson. I am eternally grateful.
Pastor of preaching and theology at Redemption Church in Seattle, Washington and author ofThe Reckless Love of God
I want to honor and thank a woman who has touched countless lives over the years. Her name is Sharon Sellers. Actually, it’s “Dr. Sellers,” but she taught me long ago that it’s not those little letters after your name that makes you special but who you really are. She and her husband, my Papa Walt, showed up at Four Corners Church back when we met in a bar. She and P. W. instantly took in my wife, Jana, and me as their own. Sharon has a brilliant mind and is one of the most creative people I’ve ever known. Her kitchen is a wonderland. Her laugh is contagious and shakes the house when something strikes her as particularly funny. She’s the only person I know who laughs as loud as I do. She has deeply enriched my life, my marriage, and my ministry in countless ways.
One example of her influence was when she helped me on my first book, The Reckless Love of God. After serving as a literature professor for more than 30 years, she was more than ready to tackle my writing. She printed out and edited every single page by hand with a green pen (to keep my manuscript from looking like a red-ink-stained crime scene) and regularly met with me for coffee to help me better understand sentence structure, grammar, and how to piece ideas together. This was invaluable.
Sharon is a Texas fireball who “jerked a knot in me”—that’s Southern slang for “confronted me”—on more than one occasion. I’m a better husband, daddy, pastor, and friend for it. She knows how to say true things bathed in grace that stick with me year after year.
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Source: Christianity Today