RELATING AS A NURSING MOTHER
We proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. I Thess. 2:7
How many men do you know that talk like this? Probably few. Their metaphors usually have more to do with sports than nursing mothers so this is rare language for a man, especially a single man.
A nursing mother is never far away from her child. She is the baby’s life-source and she knows it. She makes herself available every time the baby is hungry. That helpless life is her priority. Once she decided to breastfeed, she knew she made a commitment to be in close proximity to her child for the duration of his infancy.
It is touching to think of a spiritual father who cares for his spiritual children like this. When they are discouraged, he draws them close and says, “Let me comfort you with the words of Jesus.” When they are weary, he infuses them with spiritual energy. “Let me tell you how to pace yourselves so you don’t burn out.” When they go astray in their doctrine, he gathers them with tears in his eyes and says, “Be careful. I’m afraid for you, lest you believe this error about our Christ.”
Instruction was never meant to be dry and lifeless. It is to be taught within the context of an endearing relationship. How many sermons are delivered like a doctrinal treatise rather than a father’s gentle advice? If we’ve sat under such teaching, we probably agree that it didn’t do much to sustain us in hard times. May all who teach the Gospel, whether itinerant minister, Sunday School teacher, pastor, or parent to their young children, be challenged to nurture relationships. This should be our first priority. Only love and connection create a foundation for planting, watering, and growing the Gospel.
How do I do that when standing in front of total strangers on my next women’s event in Atlanta? Those who will come to experience Daughters of Promise need to hear my heart. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve prayed for you. Oh, I want you to get the message because it will make such a difference in your life. I’m available to you this weekend because you’re important to me.” Such sincere heart-statements will cause resistance to the message of Jesus to dissipate.
It’s easier for women to be ‘nursing mothers’ in ministry. Do a work in our men, Lord. Make them like Paul; committed to be relational. Challenge them to come out of hiding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.