So what does it take to be a spiritual mother? In some ways, we can say that to be a spiritual mother, you need the same qualifications as a physical mother. So what are they?
To be a physical mother, she must be a member of the family. Normally there are a husband, wife and possibly other children as well. In this day and age, there are plenty of exceptions to that “rule” but in one form or other, by blood or by law, a mother is a member of the family.
There is no experience required (as a parent) but as you grow…and your child grows, you gain experience that you can pass on.
The realization that the job is so much larger than your resources, comes quickly. Your need of Someone and a community outside yourself for the ability, the desire and often the help to do it. Yes, the grace that enables you will also come from God.
And of course, seeing them through the eyes of love and grace. Not just looking at their flaws with a magnifying glass when you are angry or they are down. But seeing them as who they are in Christ…and who God made them to be.
As far as spiritual mothering goes, I hope the parallels are pretty obvious. If you will be spiritually mothering a young woman, you need to be members of the family…of God.
You don’t need to have experience in spiritual mothering, only growing in your faith and obeying Christ. Being well grounded in Scripture is a definite strength! If the person you are working with…and it may “only” be a close friendship, not necessarily a Bible study or prayer time…asks a question you can’t answer, some great responses are as follows:
“What do you think?”
“What do you find as you study God’s Word?”
“What does your husband think about this decision?” (if she is married.) (Not always perfect indication of what to do, but her response is a good indicator of what is happening in her heart.)
“What parts of the answer do you think you know?”
“Maybe together we can find the answers this week & discuss next week.”
Just as you raise your children to be less dependent on you as a parent and more independent and leaning on Christ as they get older, the sign of success as a spiritual mother is that this person will be less dependent on you for “advice” and more dependent on Christ and His Word.
In fact, you will do her a great favor to not allow her to become dependent on you for your advice. Your job is to encourage her to turn to Christ in prayer and Bible reading for counsel, decisions and spiritual growth. You want to help her develop discernment, confidence in the God she worships to make her way clear and trust in the Godly wisdom of other women and men in the Church when she needs it.
More and more, you will want this to become a friendship that is more and more mutual as you both look to Christ for growth in your own lives and relationships.
If you are going to enter this relationship, you must be able to see this woman through the eyes of faith…and grace. Rarely will she be someone who is a beautiful diamond…more likely she will be a diamond in the rough…at best!
There is something about women that makes them flourish in an environment of unconditional love. I don’t think it is just certain temperaments. When a woman has grown up in an environment of criticism and sarcasm, where it seems she can’t live up to the expectations of at least one parent that she wants to please, it causes her to either lash out at people or quietly crawl into a shell of protection to get away from the people that have hurt her so much. (I’m not condoning this, I’m just saying, this is what happens if she does what comes naturally to her.)
She may not be a quiet person, but her way of “hiding” may just be to be polite, do the expected thing and not make waves. The longer you know her, the more you feel she has never really revealed much about herself. This is not about you, this says volumes about her.
It may even say that in some form, she has suffered abuse in her past. (Not necessarily sexual, but honestly, the statistics are incredibly sad! One in four women they think! have been either abused or directly affected by sexual abuse. That is a very sad statistic.) It affects a woman’s attitude toward sex, toward any relationships, toward intimacy. Our ability to spiritually mother our young women well and wisely can affect their view of others, their marriages and families of the future! It is no small thing! No wonder Titus commands it as a lifestyle. It is world-changing!
Have you experienced a Spiritual Mothering-type relationship?
Were you the mother or the daughter? Tell us about it.