New Moms: How to Lead Others in Scripture Engagement
Drawing from your life experience
People warned me that the years spent parenting my young children would be the most barren and inwardly focused of my life in terms of my spiritual health and service to others. Since having my first baby in December 2016, my spiritual life has indeed been different, but not barren. My quiet times are abbreviated to be sure, but also experienced against a backdrop of joy and infused with new perspectives on love and holiness. Could they be improved and increased? Always.
The inwardly focused bit, however, has been quite accurate, and understandably so. I’ve not been formally engaged in leading or serving others during this time, at least outside my home.
These new realities have led me to explore the question: How can new mothers continue to live out Scripture, and lead others to do so, too?
1. Engaging My Children
Reading Scripture has usually ushered me into a time of prayer, but nowadays it’s not always possible for me to study a verse or passage, meditate on it, and pray. In all seriousness, I often read to my baby daughter from the Jesus Storybook Bible then plunge back into our routine, or lack thereof. At first, I didn’t count this activity as “legitimate” engagement, but the children’s Bible sometimes speaks more clearly to me than any “grown-up” translation. More importantly, I am modeling biblical engagement and regular quiet time to my young daughter, which is priority one in my book.
2. Engaging Friends and Family
Although I haven’t been on a church staff in many years, I still feel the pull to minister to others. This is complicated by the fact that many days I don’t leave my house. Still, a simple, effective means of helping others engage with Scripture is just praying God’s Word with and for them. John Piper offers great tips for doing so.
This is how I pray with my husband and how friends and I pray when we’re able to meet in person. But even when I’m praying alone—sometimes as I’m nursing or folding laundry—praying Scripture over friends and family focuses my prayers and certainly effects change. Scripture is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). The promises of God’s Word aren’t bound by proximity to the subject of our prayers.
3. Engaging Parishioners
What about when you return to your ministry leadership role after having a baby? Much like the shift from singleness to being married, becoming a mother does limit the time a woman can devote to others outside her household, but the lessons of motherhood can help shape our other leadership roles. In my short time as a mother, I’m already starting to grow more compassionate and understanding toward other mothers, children, and humanity in general—including the occasional difficult client or parishioner.
In my past leadership roles, both secular and in the church, compassion was maybe what I lacked most. I was single, childless, and could accomplish anything with enough coffee—why couldn’t everybody else? There’s nothing like the sleep-deprived confusion of new parenthood to strip you of an over-confident attitude (Hebrews 5:2). I expect most new parents, and especially female leaders who choose to go back to work, return to their posts with a soft spot for others’ shortcomings and constraints. Hopefully, you will be greeted with similar understanding by your own leaders, as being a parent—in any capacity—is nothing if not challenging.
4. Engaging Myself
Other challenges include the aforementioned sleep deprivation, and often a general sense of being overwhelmed. This is when it’s important to put into practice the things you tell others—to walk through your days with Scripture passages that remind you that God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), that God will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and that God is waiting to share your burdens and give you rest (Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 40:31). Leaning on the Word yourself will transform your attitude and your example, and is therefore one of the best ways to lead others into scriptural engagement.
The gifts outweigh the challenges. Motherhood is a glimpse at the enormity of God’s love for us (Ephesians 3:18; John 3:16). For me, it is also providing a fresh and sobering understanding of the importance of sharing and reflecting the gospel. I want my children to know, serve, and love God, and I am newly aware of the consequences of my actions and words (Proverbs 22:6), including the example I set of loving and investing in others.
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