When Paul wants to talk about how ministry cares for people, he compares ministry to the work of a mother. In 1 Thess 2:6-8 Paul wrote,
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
Since all genuine ministry is rooted in the nature of God, it might be instructive to think of how God is like a mother. This may come hard to some as we tend to think of God as Father, and thus male. However, most of us—in our more introspective moments—know that gender probably isn’t a defining characteristic of God.
For example, Genesis 1:27 reads
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Somehow out of God’s image, comes both male and female; it takes both together to capture something of God’s total nature.
Consequently, along the way, God can use feminine images to help us understand God’s nature. For example, when Moses once complained to God, he whined,
Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? (Numbers 11:12 NIV)
Of course, the truth was that God was the one who “birthed” Israel and God carried infant Israel.
Likewise, Jesus will assume a motherly role in relationship to the city of Jerusalem, when he weeps for the city:
…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37 NIV)
Therefore, this Mother’s Day, we can look to our moms as examples of what Christian ministry should be but even more our mothers are windows into who God is.
5 thoughts on “The Motherly Side of Ministry”
Stan, I’ve been contemplating this myself this week as Roy is leading our worship time on Mother’s Day. I’m going to send this to him, and we may use some of your thoughts! Thanks!
Monica, Please use whatever is useful. I hope all is well for you and yours in the Great White North–finally thawing out, I hope. And Happy Mother’s Day!
Have you read The Shack? This article reminded me of that novel.
Megan, Yes, I have read The Shack. I can see why this piece reminds you of the book.
Megan, I just noticed your comment. Too much to keep up with, you know. Anyway, I have read the Shack and thought it was a very creative way to get people out of their boxes when it comes to thinking about what God is like.