Mothering Is for Everyone
Mothers have a unique opportunity to shape the lives of their children by providing a firm foundation on which to build a godly life, but we are not meant to go it alone. We need the body of Christ to help us: mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, both married and single.
I spent several days with a friend a few weeks ago. As we sat at her table, we watched the vacant lot next to her house being prepared upon which to build a house. Before I arrived, the land was measured and cleared of debris, the size and location of the slab marked, and a builder's level used to see how much the ground sloped. During the four days I was there, the only thing I witnessed was sand and gravel being spread around and packed down. Every day for eight hours a day, the builders carefully carried out the same routine: dump sand, pack it down, fill in with gravel where needed—layer after layer after layer. After each layer, a person checked the foundation with the builder's level. It seemed like overkill to me, but my friend who owns a custom home building business understood the many meticulous steps that need to be completed before the concrete is poured and the foundation is complete, because the foundation is the most critical part of the house. If the foundation is not laid correctly or the builders take short cuts, the house will be unstable and suffer in the future from the shifting ground underneath it. One thing became very clear to me: building a house is neither fast nor a one-person job.
Building a Spiritual Foundation Isn’t a One-Person Job
This building process reminded me that it takes many people to help build the spiritual foundation for our children as well. Mothers have a unique opportunity to shape the lives of their children by providing a firm foundation on which to build a godly life, but we are not meant to go it alone. We need the body of Christ to help us: mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, both married and single. Whether or not you are a biological mother, you are still needed to contribute to the firm foundation for a child.
A young family in our church body "adopted" me, and because of this I have the privilege of knowing their children, of praying for them, hugging them, encouraging them, and giving them little gifts every now and then to let them know I care about them and that I am interested in their spiritual development. I pray that God will show me other ways in which I can contribute to the laying of their spiritual foundation.
Do you know a child who could really use your spiritual love and influence? Maybe you are the Providence Kids teacher or the youth leader or an acquaintance of the parents, and you can simply say a friendly hello or an encouraging word to a child when you see him/her outside of the classroom. Maybe you can "adopt" a child and commit to pray for him/her and be his/her friend.
Building a Spiritual Foundation Isn’t Fast
Building a firm foundation for our children needs to be intentional and consistent. It is not a quick process where we will see instant results, and we can’t take shortcuts. We will spend years preparing the soil of the heart, teaching kingdom principles day by day, layer upon layer, over and over and over again. This reminds me of an admonition from Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In order to complete the foundation, the slab needs to be strengthened with steel bar before the concrete is poured and flattened, then a float and trowel is used for a smooth finish to the foundation. As our children grow older we will need to take different steps to complete their spiritual foundation and prepare them for adulthood. As we have prepared the soil of their hearts, we all need to be available to strengthen and encourage the child as he/she faces various learning situations that come up in life.
Building a Spiritual Foundation Is Worship
Building this foundation is an act of spiritual worship which is marked by love. I was challenged by Gloria Furman's statement in her book Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of God Changes Everything:
Walking in love as Christ walked in love is a pace marked by ongoing, sacrificial giving unto the Lord. Such a walk is a fragrant offering to him. (When you are bogged down with all the day-by-day responsibilities of a mother, remember your service to your children is a fragrant offering to the Lord.) He inspires it, empowers it, and gets the credit. Step by selfless step, our love to one another (and our children) pleases God and exalts his name among the nations (137-8).
Remember, as the Deuteronomy passage says, for us to help build this firm foundation for these children we must not neglect our relationship to Christ; we cannot do this in our own strength.
One of the reasons we build a strong, firm foundation for our children is that others may try build after us. The Apostle Paul viewed himself as a foundation builder in 1 Corinthians, and he was careful to make sure the foundation was strong and solid, knowing others would come into the Corinthians’ lives: "Because of God's special favor to me, I have laid the foundation, like an expert builder. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have—Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). We want our children to be able to discern whether or not the building on their foundation will survive or crumble. Also, Jesus said, "I will show you what it's like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built" (Luke 7:47-48).
Just think: all of us have the special privilege of participating in laying a strong foundation for the children of our church. It will be the most demanding yet rewarding thing you do! Let's pray that our children will continue to build their lives on the foundation of their holy faith (Jude 1:20).
1. Furman, Gloria. Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017.