After waiting years to become a mother, I remember introducing my son to family and friends and desperately waiting for them to say, “You’re such a good mom!” Mentally, I knew that what makes a good mom is not the approval of others, but seeking affirmation was my way of proving to myself that I was doing well. I didn’t know for sure how to be a good mom or what were the qualities of a good mother. I almost wished it was as simple as a job assessment, where a boss sat down with a checklist to tell me the areas in which I was succeeding and where I needed improvement.
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How to Be a Good Mom?
“How can I gladly lay down my comfortable schedule in order to serve someone? How can I gladly lay down my body to carry someone else inside it for nine months? How can I gladly lay down my fears and insecurities, pick up a Bible, and disciple some women? How can I gladly lay down my coffee to do anything? The answer to those how questions are found on the cross. We follow Christ, who laid down his life in order to nurture our lives. – Page 127, Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman
Know that Motherhood is a Calling
As a Christian, my highest calling is to bring glory to God with every aspect of my life. The Biblical role of a mother then extends from that calling. According to Gloria Furman, the Biblical meaning of mother is greater than the picture of a woman birthing or adopting a child and raising that child to be a “good person.” Applying the Gospel and our calling to give God glory, she says,
“When you read the word “nurture”, I want you to remember everything that it involves: discipling, serving, caregiving, mothering, teaching, showing hospitality, and more. Mothering (or nurturing) is a calling not just for women who have biological or adopted children. Mothering is a calling for all women. Every Christian woman is called to the spiritual motherhood of making disciples of all nations. Our nurturing is, by nature, missional.” (Page 24, Missional Motherhood)
If we want to know how to be a good mom, we must first learn the Biblical role of a mother – viewing ourselves as missional women called for a great purpose.
Doubts: Will I Be a Good Mom?
While adopting our son, I was consumed with anxiety. I wondered if I would lose my identity. I questioned my ability to make the right parenting choices or even to make decisions not out of selfish motives but truly for the best interest of my son. Not resolving these doubts before becoming a mom is what led to my desperate seeking of others approval. I started my motherhood journey with insecurities, wondering “will I be a good mom?”, and ended up as an uncertain and nervous new mom. Thankfully, I have since found a way to set aside my lack of confidence.
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Characteristics of a Good Mother in the Bible
Once we know our purpose or role, we can then find characteristics of a good mom in the Bible by searching for Scriptures that teach us how to be missional nurturers. So, what is a good mother according to the Bible?
A Good Mom Knows Her Bible and Teaches it to Her Children
You shall, therefore, lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:18-21 ESV
One of the qualities of a good mother is treasuring the Bible. She lays up Scripture in her heart, because she knows that they are the very words of God and He uses them to accomplish His powerful plans (Isaiah 55:10-11). Because she has been changed by the Gospel, she then teaches these words to her children all day long. When sitting, walking, before bed, and when waking up, the joy she has found in the Bible overflows to her children.
We see a beautiful example of this in the life of Timothy. The apostle Paul encourages Timothy to continue in his faith by reminding him of the salvation power contained in the Bible. Paul says that Timothy learned these truths even as a young child (2 Timothy 3:14-17), and credits Timothy’s mother and grandmother for sharing their sincere faith with him (2 Timothy 1:5). If we want to know how to be a good mom, may we look to Biblical examples like these!
A Good Mom Prays for Her Children
As missional-minded women, we must daily pray that our children not only learn the truths of the Gospel but that God brings them to a saving faith! One of my favorite quotes is from Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon is commonly known as the “Prince of Preachers,” but, as a young child, God used his mother’s prayers in mighty ways. In his autobiography, Spurgeon says,
“Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly, I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent; others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, ‘Oh, that my son might live before Thee!’” (Charles H. Spurgeon, The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Vol 1, 1834-1854)
If we want to know how to be a good mom, may we pray the same fervent prayers of the many godly women who have come before us.
See also The Power of a Pleading Mother (Christian Men and Their Godly Moms) for more on Spurgeon’s mother’s role in his life.
A Good Mom Loves Her Children
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 ESV
A missional nurturer seeks to love her children in all things. Yet, the Biblical definition of love is a daunting one. Raising children is not an easy task, and the idea of never being irritable toward our children seems impossible. Worry not mama, not only do we have Christ’s perfect example of true love to follow (Hebrews 12:1-2), as we learn more about God through His word and pray daily for our children, we can also pray for God to transform us. The fruit of the Spirit working in our lives is love (Galatians 5:22). This is not to say that we won’t ever mess up, but it is a reassurance that we are promised help. We can never be good mothers outside of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so may we turn to Him today!
How to Be a Good Mom? Rest in Christ
If we want to know what makes a great mom, we must acknowledge our doubts, learn our calling, and seek Biblical examples of missional motherhood. Ultimately though, we will never find a succinct good “mother” definition, the simple job assessment checklist that I craved at the beginning of my motherhood journey. The characteristics of a good mother in the Bible and in the lives of godly women do all have one thing in common though. The nurturing, missional-minded mother trusts Christ with her parenting fully gives her children over to Him.
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson put it this way,
“Although we long to be faithful parents, we also rest in the truth that our faithfulness is not what will save our children…Our children will be saved only through the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit, who works at the direction of our faithful heavenly Father. He’s the faithful, powerful, soul-transforming One. Yes, he may use us as a means to accomplish his purpose, but salvation is entirely of the Lord (Jonah 2:9).” (Give Them Grace, pg 22)
Want to be a faithful parent, a good mom? Rest in Christ today. There is no need to be overwhelmed as a mom. Give it over to God and trust His strength to carry you through it.