Today is Mother’s Day, a time-honored tradition that we set aside a day to honor our mothers. However, the Bible teaches us to honor our mothers and fathers at all times, not just one day a year. I pondered how to do that as I grew from a child into adulthood.
I have had personal experiences with several mothers who were part of my life. My own mother raised me, and I spent the first 18 years of my life living in the same family. I learned to respect my parents, and to obey them, but also learned what it meant to be a parent.
I also had experience with my grandmother. Though she wasn’t my mother per se, she was a mother who was my grandmother. As a child, I would anticipate weekends when my grandparents would welcome two of us kids at a time to come to the farm for the weekend. It was a treat.
Then I experienced the motherhood of my wife (yes, even mothering me, sometimes) as the mother of our three children. She has been an awesome mother as I witnessed countless times of love, compassion, dispensing of wisdom, counsel, discipline and sacrifice.
And, her job goes on — a different motherly role now that all of our kids are married, and some with children of their own. Now that role takes on a mother/grandmother role.
Finally, I have seen this role in the life of our own daughter that grew from a child, to a teenager to a young adult, then wife and mother herself of two of our grandchildren.
Even as a teenager, I saw the mother instinct in her as my wife would be out of town and our daughter would become the mother with all the responsibility and authority, at least until her mother came home. I watched her become a mother, after the example of her own mother, yet with a unique style and manner that is all her own.
In all these four examples of motherhood, I witnessed an amazing example of what it means to be like Jesus. I know not all mothers (or fathers) act like Jesus. But I look for the examples of what it means to be or to live like Jesus in the lives of other people.
I was blessed that these four examples of motherhood in my grandmother, mother, wife and daughter reveal great examples of Christlike sacrifice, love, giving, compassion, wisdom, nurturing, caring, discipline, creativity, generosity, dedication and commitment.
Being Christlike is about living a life that reflects more of who Jesus is than what is often our self-absorbed, self-centered, self-serving self. The more we reflect Jesus, the less self-focused living inflates our egos. The more Christlike we are, the more we love and are compassionate toward others, the more we desire to see the best in others and the less it is all about “me.”
Mothers can be great examples of what being Christlike looks like. In many examples of my own mother, wife and daughter, I have seen life when resources are limited and there is only so much money to go around.
Time and time again, I have seen them quietly sacrifice for the sake of providing for their children. Yet, there is joy in their heart because there is greater joy in giving and providing for their children than receiving for themselves. They want what is best for others; that fulfills the desire in their heart to give love for their family.
In that, I have learned what it means to be self-sacrificing and generous, and thinking more about others than about myself. Throughout my life, I have seen these constant examples lived out before me, of how Jesus taught us to live a life reflecting the love, character and sacrifice of Jesus.
None of these examples would ever acknowledge they are perfect, and would be quick to acknowledge they have a long way to go to be like Jesus, but that humility itself is yet another example of being Christlike. I know they aren’t perfect, but I can look at the positive qualities of their lives that reflect Jesus in their lives, and I can learn from them. And I do.
Without the godly influence of my grandmother, my mother, my wife and my daughter, I believe my life would be different, and different in a far less positive way. I would add the influences of other mother influences in my life, including my mother-in-law, my paternal grandmother I didn’t know as well and the many godly mothers I have known over the years in the different churches we have served.
It is both through specific examples, and a lifetime of consistency and faithfulness that speaks volumes to me. I honor each of them for the powerful impact they have made in my life. I know many can testify to that same example.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms. May you be filled with God’s abundant blessings and joy.
• Dan Wiese is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.