Evangelistic Mothers in Fields Ripe Unto Harvest
For mothers of children, the fields are ripe unto harvest - everyday. However, pastors sometimes make moms feel overwhelmed, guilty and even angry when they make broad appeals for more evangelistic fervor. The mothers of young children may be thinking, “Does he know what my life is like? Does he know how many diapers I change, tears I dry, runny noses I wipe, altercations I pacify and meals I serve everyday? Does he know that I can’t even close my eyes for one second during the day?” These moms wonder how they can participate in the newly launched evangelistic program... They feel guilty and overwhelmed!
How do we help mothers to process these appeals for evangelization of the lost?
Following are eight ways that mothers need to grasp in order to consider their role in fulfilling the Great Commission.
First, she must be satisfied with her God given realm of responsibility.
In the Lord’s sovereign organization of society, communicated in the Bible, He has established various roles, jurisdictions and responsibilities. In terms of her primary realm of service, it is clear from Scripture that mothers are directed by God to focus their energies homeward. She is a “Keeper at home,” (Titus 2:5). “[She] builds her house,” (Prov. 14:1). She is a home despot, who oversees what goes on in the home, (1 Tim. 5:14). This is her realm.
Therefore, a mother’s chief evangelistic field is, the home. She need not feel guilty about her focus.
Here is Jeremy Walker on exhausted mothers and their callings, writing in his book, “The Brokenhearted Evangelist”:
“Let no exhausted mother, with her hands full of home and children, bruise her soul with the conviction either that she has no way of serving Christ in this way or that she is somehow prevented by her children and her home from doing something worthwhile. Rather, that is the very sphere of her labor. Her mission field is at her feet (and quite possibly under them and in her arms and on her back and currently drawing something indelible on something irreplaceable). Indeed, for her to feel falsely guilty about what she is not doing or to transfer that guilt to her children in resentment and bitterness will only prevent the good that she is called to do as a minister to her children. Consider some of the earlier examples of Augustine, Spurgeon, and Paton, to name but three. We tend to look at those men and think that they are the evangelists, but each of them was first evangelized by his own parents.”
(“The Brokenhearted Evangelist” - Jeremy Walker p.17).
Women who give their whole hearts to this realm are often undervalued, ignored or even scorned. While her realm of service has been maligned, it is a realm that God has created and has given to her to manage. John MacArthur says it this way,
“To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority in the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one.”
(“Successful Christian Parenting” – John MacArthur 1998, p. 194.)
Second, she must understand the meaning of the Great Commission and how a mother fulfills it.
Without question her primary calling is to fulfill the Great Commission in her sphere of responsibility as keeper at home. What is the Great Commission? Jesus says, “‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matt. 28:18-20).
Third, she must explain the gospel to her children.
She explains what it means to be born again and that family ties cannot save, for we “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13). She communicates the multifaceted glories of the treasures of the Kingdom of God. She preaches the gospel to them in dozens of ways through her demeanor and speech. She upholds biblical morality. She is faithful to biblical commands for child raising. She reads the Bible to them and helps them to memorize Scripture. She is like Timothy’s grandmother who made sure that, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). She made sure that there was not a famine of the Word of God in her home (Amos 8:11).
Fourth, she must set herself to make disciples of Jesus.
A keeper at home fulfills the Great Commission by making disciples in the context of her home. She does this, primarily by teaching her children to learn from Jesus Christ. A disciple is a learner. She understands that she has responsibility to communicate the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ and to explain the promises of God in salvation because, “the promise is to you and to your children…” (Acts 2:39).
Fifth, she must teach them to honor and obey.
She explains the Word of God to them, driving it deep into their hearts so that they would not “forsake” their “mother’s teaching” (Prov. 1:8). This instruction is something that is daily fortified through repetition as she seeks to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” and teach them to “honor” father and mother (Eph. 6:1-4). She commands her children to “keep the ways of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19).
Sixth, she must practice hospitality.
God has ordained the home to be a place of hospitality as we see here. “…If she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the feet of the saints, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has followed every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10). This mother “extends her hand to the poor … and needy” (Prov. 31:20). One aspect of this is the power of the dinner table. It is one of the most powerful evangelistic platforms available. Taking meals with the lost, the poor and needy is a critical way a wife can advance the evangelistic mission of the church.
Seventh, she must seek to prepare her children for earth and heaven.
She keeps an eye on the future – on the day she will send them out into the world to work for the glory of God, so that they would, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). She recognizes her responsibility is to consider the trans-generational work with which she is involved, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7).
She prepares her children for life in two places, life here on earth and in eternity. Every home is a place where children are sent out to fill the world… they must be prepared to go. Home is the place where the preparation is.
“Mothers, then should be thoroughly acquainted with the word that is allotted to them. I speak not of the physical training of the children, nor primarily of their intellectual culture, but of their social, moral, and religious education. A mother’s object and duty is the formation of character. She has not merely to communicate knowledge, but habits. Her special department is to cultivate the heart and regulate the life. Her aim must be not only what here children are to know, but what they are to be and do. She is to look at them as the future members of society, and heads of families of their own, but above all as probationers (candidates) for eternity. This, I repeat, must be taken up as the primary idea, the formation of character for both worlds… A mother should look upon her offspring with this idea; “that child has to live in two worlds and to act a part in both. It is my duty to begin his education for both and to lay in infancy the foundation of his character and happiness for time and eternity too. What ought to be my qualifications and my diligence for such a task? ”
(Theology of the Family, P198-199)
Eighth, she must give her whole heart and the best years of her life for it.
God has designed that a woman has her children during the time of her youthful vigor – generally. That vigor is ordained to be expressed toward her children with laser beam focus and intensity. A mother’s demands upon her and her need to focus on her home is well communicated by Alistair Begg,
“Ladies, [motherhood] is a full-time job. Do not kid yourself that you can be a dental receptionist and a mother; that you can be a typist and a mom; that you can be a Vice President and a mom. One of the two things will win. Now look at your Bible and ask what you have to do.”
(“Biblical Principles for Parenting” – Alistair Begg, Truth for Life podcast)
Young mothers, particularly carry a very difficult burden. Sleepless nights, diapers, bottles, nursing, sickness, accidents, incidents, discipline, counseling, correcting, meals, cleaning, hospitality… This means they often feel inadequate, overwhelmed or hurt and maybe a little angry.
I have never met a young mother with lots of kids who did not struggle with fatigue and frustration and from time to time, in her lowest moments, wondered how she could be useful to God at all. As she prioritizes her life, she can find solace in an authority greater than her heart or her culture. This authority calls her to focus on her home. Therefore she can be content to be a “keeper at home.”
How mothers are key players in revival.
A mother’s focus is one of the keys to revival. Charles Spurgeon understood the growing pressures to modify family life in his own day and to neglect spiritual life in the home in his article, “The Kind of Revival We Need,” he explained,
We deeply want a revival of family religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children? Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves ‘holiness unto the Lord,’ so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.
(“The Kind of Revival We Need” – Charles Spurgeon)
This kind of mother is “a treasure” (Prov. 31:10).
Scott T. Brown is the director of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches and elder at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Scott graduated from California State University in Fullerton with a degree in History and received a Master of Divinity degree from Talbot School of Theology. He gives his time to expository preaching and local pastoral ministry, as well as conferences on Biblical doctrine and church and family reformation. He and his wife Deborah have four grown children. Scott helps people think through the two greatest evangelistic and discipleship institutions God has provided — the church and the family.