When I shared part of my testimony in church last month, I mentioned the need we all have for spiritual parents (That You May Believe, Pastor Howard Olver, April 7, 2013).
I encouraged everyone that wants to grow in their faith to find someone that will commit to meet with them, pray for them, and ask them life’s tough questions, in love.
For some it will be their biological parent or parents, grandparents, an aunt or an uncle, but for many it will be someone that isn’t related to them, and that’s o.k. I’ve been blessed by the active spiritual legacy of my own family, my parents, my brother, my grandparents, but also many other spiritual “parents,” older, more mature believers that took an interest in my development as a person and as a follower of Jesus.
Sometimes, these days, they’re called mentors or coaches. In Scripture, we can see lots of examples of this pattern at work too: Moses and Joshua, Samuel and David, Naomi and Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary, Paul and Timothy to name a few.
But, consider Timothy’s example. He had a great spiritual heritage from his grandmother and his mother, and a great mentor in the apostle, Paul, who wrote:
“Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.
I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother, Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:3-6, NLT)
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, let’s celebrate with more than giving flowers to and making dinner for mom (but do those things, too!).
Let’s follow the example of so many great women of faith, like Timothy’s mom and grandma, and invest in the lives of young people that we know, ones that are in our congregation and our community.
Get to know them, meet with them, encourage them, and perhaps most importantly, pray for them. Being a spiritual parent is a big responsibility, like being any other kind of parent, and there will be times of heartache and maybe heartbreak, but it’s rewarding, too, and full of joy, just like parenting is.