Mentoring Moms

2 Timothy 1:5

May 10, 2014 | Brian Bill

It’s not easy being a mom, is it?   A mother was talking to an old college friend and said, “I remember before I was married that I had three theories about raising children.  Now I have three children and no theories.” One hundred years ago, by an act of Congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second 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.  One popular poem, written almost 150 years ago, says that, “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!  And so, today we want to honor 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 Hallmark 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 here that wish they didn’t have kids and I know there are women here who would give anything just to have a child.  Others of you are grieving the direction your prodigal child is taking.  And a number of you are flying solo as you work hard to nurture your child’s faith.

Let me also say 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.

I understand that it’s an Edgewood tradition to honor the oldest mother in each service.   Do we have any moms here over 70 years old?  80?  90?

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 verse 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 arm, 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 Nigeria as they worry about the safety of over 200 girls who have been kidnapped.  If you’d like to send these mothers an email you can do so by sending a note to:  Let’s stop and pray right now.

Moms Matter

We’ve been learning how to live on mission in this series.  Two weeks ago we focused on making sure we’re living under the lordship of Jesus Christ so that people will ask about the hope that’s within us.  When we give an answer we’re to do so with gentleness and respect.  Last week we discovered how to break down barriers and build bridges so that we can have gospel conversations.  

As a follow-up to last week, we have green cards on the resource table that contain six questions you can ask to bridge into a gospel conversation.  On the reverse side we included some specific ways to utilize your Sunday nights this summer to do some bridge building with your neighbors.

MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, surveyed more than 1,000 mothers some time ago to find out what their nine biggest needs are.  Coming in at #1 is the need for significance.  Moms want to know that they matter, that they are making a difference. 

In her book The Missional Mom, author Helen Lee addresses the question, “Why aren’t today’s women…discovering more joy and fulfillment in their journeys as mothers?”  Her central thesis is that moms need to become more Missional: “Moms need to explore the idea of calling and understand both the specific part God has given them and also how the melody of motherhood fits into the grand symphony of God’s work.”

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 put together some of her background from 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 services 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 3,000 were saved from all over the area (Acts 2:41).  Whenever it happened, she passed her faith on to her daughter Eunice.  Acts 16:1 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 two 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.  We’ll end this series on Father’s Day with a message called, “Disciplemaking Dads.”  

Let’s read our passage: “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  I wrote down four observations.

  • Sincere Christ-followers stand out.  Paul is in prison and knows his time is short.  Many of his friends have deserted him (see 1:15, 4:16) 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.”
  • Focus on your family first.  Grandma 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 neighbors to love are our own family members.  After being healed by Jesus a formerly demon-possessed man begged to go with Him.  Listen to 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.”
  • Faith is both taught and caught.  Notice the three uses of the word “in.”  Genuine faith is “in” Timothy.  This faith dwelt first “in” his grandma and in his mom.  And then Paul mentions that it is in Timothy again – “I am persuaded is in you also.”  Grandma 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.  C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General once said: “Life affords no greater responsibility and no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.”  
  • There are no perfect moms.  I like what Matt Chandler said at the conference Beth and I attended last month, “God is awesome.  He doesn’t need you to be awesome.  He wants you to be obedient.”  There are no perfect moms but as the trio reminded us, we serve a Faithful God, don’t we?
Friends, the character of our children tomorrow depends on what we put in their hearts today.

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.  One Jewish proverb says, “One mother achieves more than a hundred teachers.”  

Moms, you are on mission.  Take the long-view that stretches beyond diapers and car pools.  Your role is extremely difficult and messy, but what you do matters because motherhood is a mission field.

Here are three ways that moms can spiritually mentor their children, 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.  Note: 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.

The word, “genuine” means their faith was not phony and was “unhypocritical,”  or literally, “without play acting.”  The King James uses “unfeigned faith.”  Their faith was the real deal, without any pretense or false façade.  They had faith in Christ and they were faithful to Christ.  

The word “dwelt” means to make at home.  Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest translates it this way: “to house in you continually.”   This reminds me of what Jesus said in John 14:23: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”   

A mentoring mom according to one theologian aims to “give to a child a home of faith and to faith a home in the child.”  Faith had come and taken up residence in his grandmother’s heart and in his mother’s heart – and was now alive in his own life.  We could say it this way: Christ must be at home in your heart before He can be at home in your home.

That reminds me of a cartoon in which 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, neighbors, 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 pondered this answer for a few moments and asked, “Mommy, have I ever seen a Christian?”

Timothy saw two Christians every day!  I read a quote from Paul Washer this week that made me think of these two moms: “The Gospel does not call us to receive Christ as an addition to our life, but as our life.” These two mothers were completely sold out to Christ.  There was no phoniness about their faith.  They were fully devoted and completely committed.  And 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?

If you’re just going through the motions spiritually your kids will eventually see it, and tragically, may do the same thing when they are older. 

Moms, if you want to instill authentic faith in your children then take your own faith seriously.  If you’re just going through the motions spiritually your kids will eventually see it, and tragically, may do the same thing when they are older.  That leads to a question: Is your faith actual or an act?  As you demonstrate your faith consistently by gathering, growing, giving and going, you will send a strong message to your children.

I heard recently about a pastor who had a long conversation with someone about becoming a member of his church.  When he was done the young man said he was ready to join.  The pastor was pretty pleased with himself so he asked, “What did I say that convinced you to join the church?”  The man answered, “It was nothing I ever heard you say.  It was the way my mother lived.”  By the way, six people are joining Edgewood in the second service on Sunday.

A mother can touch a whole generation just by loving her own child well.  Actually, she can affect the next 100 years.  I like how one mom captured her purpose: “Our work as moms is to glorify God who sent His Son to do His mighty work on the cross in our place to pay the price for our sins.  Humbly receiving God’s grace and inviting our children to share our joyful gratitude for what Jesus has done…is our happy mission in this fallen world…it is only by the grace of God that moms can nurture the souls of our littlest neighbors.”

Timothy’s family environment was fertile to his faith development.  Both his mother and his grandmother held their faith deeply and shared it freely.  It wasn’t the facts they knew but their faith that grew.  How fertile is the environment in your family for the reproduction and the nurturing of authentic faith in the lives of your children and grandchildren?  A mom can be a spiritual mentor to her children with or without the help of a dad.  

2. Pass along Scripture. 

Grandma and mom not only passed along salvation they also handed off the Scriptures.  Turn to 2 Timothy 3:15: “And 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.” The word “childhood” refers to a newborn baby or a toddler.  Lois and Eunice teamed up to provide high-powered Bible Study Fellowship classes for young Timothy – even before he could crawl!  Are you aware that the Edgewood nursery has a curriculum where older infants are taught a Bible story and a song each week?  Alisha Miller, who heads up the nursery, told me that the kids get really get excited about this.

Mothers, it is never too early to start teaching the Bible to your children – and, it’s never too late to start if you haven’t already.  Thankfully, you do not have to do this all by yourself.  We have a well thought-out, Bible-based Sunday School and Children’s church program for your children, Super Saturdays this summer, an AWANA ministry that is based on Scripture memorization, and a student ministry that teaches the Word of God in a way that teenagers can understand and embrace.  By the way, the students will be leading the evening service next Sunday night as we celebrate our graduating seniors.  These ministries are all designed to assist you in helping your children learn and live out the Word of God. 

Four scholars were arguing over Bible translations.  One said he preferred the King James because of its beauty and eloquent old English.  Another said he liked the New American Standard for its literalism and how it moves the reader from passage to passage with confident feelings of accuracy from the original text.  The third scholar was sold on the New Living Translation for its use of contemporary phrases and idioms that capture the meaning of difficult ideas.  After being quiet for a moment, the fourth scholar admitted: “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.” When the other scholars started laughing, he said, “My mom translated each page of the Bible into life.  It is the most convincing translation I have ever read.”

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?  Remember, a mom can be a spiritual mentor to her children with or without the help of a dad.  

3. Pass along serving. 

Let’s turn to Acts 16:1-3: “Then he [Paul] came to Derbe and Lystra.  And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.  Paul wanted to have him go on with him…” 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.”  Luke, the author of Acts, could have referred to him as a believer or a Christian, but he chose to call him a disciple.   A disciple is a learner and a follower.  A disciple is one who is serious about Christ, not just one who is going through the motions.   He was a full-fledged follower, not just a “fan” of Jesus.
  • He had a good reputation.  The believers in the area “spoke well of him.” People knew him as a man of integrity and as a man of the Word.  He was rock solid.  
  • He was available.  Paul wanted to “have him go on with him.”  As you read the Book of Acts, you’ll see that because Timothy was mentored, he was ready to minister.  He knew it meant leaving home and he knew it meant facing hardship.  
  • He passed it along.  Look at 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  The impact of his mom and his grandma was actually exponential, wasn’t it?  As they poured into him, he poured into others, who in turn mentored others.

Paul enlisted Timothy to be his special assistant to replace John Mark and refers to him as his “beloved son” in 1 Corinthians 4:17 and in 1 Timothy 1:2, he calls him his “own son in the faith.”  In Philippians 2:20, Paul can’t think of anyone like Timothy when he writes: “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”  Paul thought very highly of Timothy and couldn’t wait to unleash him for ministry.  

Mentoring moms, make sure your children know how to minister.   Our kids are to learn the Bible and grow in their faith so that they learn how to live on mission.  The mother of our children has reminded me that our primary job as parents is to disciple our girls so that they grow up to be young women of God who will serve Him wholeheartedly for the rest of their lives.  I’m thankful for Beth’s strategic and intentional mentoring and am amazed by her consistent love and care for our daughters.  Happy Mother’s Day, honey.

Grandparents Make a Grand Impact

Before wrapping up I want to emphasize the importance again of grandmas (and grandpas).  Remember it was in a grandma that the faith “dwelt first.”  If you’re a grandparent, you have the opportunity to make a grand impact.

I love hearing the nicknames that grandkids give their grandmas.  Whether it’s G-ma or Grams, Ne-ma or Granny, God has designed this relationship to be special. 

I heard about a grandma who talked about her grandchildren to a man sitting next to her on a plane for two solid hours.  She showed pictures of her eight grandkids 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?”

I read a study recently that revealed the bond between grandparents and grandchildren is second in emotional power and influence only to the relationship between parents and children.  Did you know that most of the famous people in the Bible were grandparents?  

  • Grandchildren help us rejoice.  Psalm 128:6: “And may you live to see your children’s children.”  One grandma commented, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d just bypass children and have grandchildren.”   I think I’ve heard my mom say that about me!
  • 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.”
  • Grandparents can reinvigorate their grandkids.  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 (see 2 Kings 16).  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 grandkids.  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 grandkids!


If you are a mom or a grand-mom, you are on a mission.  The values you leave your children and grandchildren are more important than the valuables you may leave them.  Your mission is to be a spiritual mentor to your children [and grandchildren] with or without the help of a dad.  

Davida Dalton, has written about an incident that happened between her and her young child: “It was a busy day in our home.  But then, with 10 children and another one on the way, every day was a bit hectic.  On this particular day, however, I was having trouble doing even routine chores—all because of one little boy.  Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter where I went.  Whenever I stopped to do something and turned around, I would trip over him.  Several times I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied.  ‘Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?’ I asked again.  

But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, ‘Oh, that’s all right, Mommy.  I’d rather be in here with you.’  Then he continued to bounce happily along behind me.  After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose patience and insisted that he go outside to play with the other children.  He still wouldn’t go.  When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with his sweet green eyes and said, ‘Well, 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.’”

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?