So, how can you who are blessed to be mothers maximize your influence? How can you help your children grow in their faith? I asked Dr. Brad Schwall that question this week. Brad is the director of our HomeWorks ministry, an enormously effective outreach program to children and their families across Dallas and beyond. A published author and frequent guest on local television, Brad is also a godly father and committed minister of the gospel. I asked him for the practical steps he gives those who attend his workshops. Here is his advice, with my paraphrased comments and biblical references.
First, be calm. Know that there will be daily challenges in parenting. Don’t be surprised when problems come and crises arise. Choose to respond to your children rather than reacting. Keep your heart close to the Lord, so that he can give you his peace and wisdom. Go to him first, and find the calm you need.
Claim this promise: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Claim this remarkable assurance: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
Then you can heed this warning: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20).
Meet the Father before you meet your children. Start the day with him. Surrender your family to his Spirit, and your day to his power.
Second, be consistent. Since children learn from what they see, show them your consistent faith. And children learn from repetition, so that every interaction with them is instructive. So consistently teach the values you want your children to develop. Be consistent about your expectations for your children’s behavior. Be consistent in your responses to their choices. Seek the wisdom of God, then walk in that wisdom whatever comes.
God’s word promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Pray for God’s wisdom and will, then be consistent in fulfilling it.
Deuteronomy 6 instructs us: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Show your children a consistent faith, no matter your circumstances.
Third, be committed. Focus your efforts on your children’s faith, putting their souls ahead of their social success. Invest in their spiritual lives before you invest in their grades, athletics, popularity, appearance, or status. Prioritize your time around this commitment, avoiding outside obligations which prevent you from nurturing your children in the faith. Put eternity before today.
Claim Jesus’ promise: “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). As C. S. Lewis says, put heaven before earth, and you’ll get earth thrown in.
Above all, be Christ-like. Model the faith you are training your children to follow. Be the same at home that you are at church, the same when you talk to people as when you talk about them. Seek places to serve, identifying and using your spiritual gifts for God’s glory. Give his grace to your children and family. Love unconditionally. And worship the Father every day and every weekend.
Paul wrote his son in the faith, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Follow your Christ, and the chances are excellent that your children will also.
So mothers must model the faith they want their children to follow. How can we encourage them in their hard, relentless, demanding job? How can we help our mothers with the tremendous pressure they feel every day? Here are Dr. Schwall’s very practical suggestions for making every day Mother’s Day:
Understand how much she does. Do things to help her; pick up after yourself; do your chores, and hers as well.
Understand that she gets tired. Give her time to rest; allow her to be alone. Be proactive in finding her time to get away, to rest, to relax.
Understand that she deserves appreciation. Show your gratitude; applaud her verbally (and maybe even literally); tell her you notice all she does. Give her flowers “just because”; show affection; throw a party for her (and don’t let her clean up).
Understand that she wants your best. So listen when she speaks; have a good attitude; follow her directions; speak and act respectfully. Understand that she is on your side, and that she’s your best friend in the world. And you’ll make every day into Mother’s Day, which is the way it should be.
The most important work you and I can ever do is the molding of other lives. You’ve never met a mortal. Your children and friends and associates will be alive long after this planet is gone. If you’re a mother, renew your commitment to the spiritual influence you are called to give your children. If you’re not, make this your day to do the same for those you influence. And as a mother’s child, use this day to thank God and your mother for their eternal influence on your soul.