Lillian, my mother, was born on October 31. She won't be celebrating her birthday because she passed away almost two years ago at the age of 54. The picture above was from our daughter Lia's 1st birthday party. It was the last day that I saw my mom alive; she died 8 days later. As the day of her birth draws near I want to honor and remember her with some reflections.
I was not brought up in a Christian home but there are many things that I learned from my mom about Christian ministry. Here are some of those lessons from my mom that have shaped or are shaping me as a person and as a pastor.
*Mom Prioritized People: No matter what task my mother was engaged in, she would stop whatever she was doing to answer the phone, respond to a knock at the door, and spend time with me, my sister, my father and anyone else who wanted to be with her. She was always available. Unfortunately, I can be pretty task-driven at times and see people as obstacles in my path to efficiency. Mom's life reminds me that tasks are merely to serve people not to ignore or hide from people.
*Mom Was Missional: If my mom decided something needed to be done, she would stop at nothing to get it done. Other words for missional might include persistent, determined, and, to be honest, stubbornly committed. Mom could not be deterred from her mission, whatever she decided it was. So many Christian leaders get a vision that we are excited about and start moving in that missional direction. But then, adversity comes and keeps coming. The temptation is to cowardly gravitate to the safest place, which is usually status quo. My mom challenges me to pursue the mission God gives me at all costs with unswerving commitment.
*Mom Preached Persuasively: I'm not sure how you feel about women preachers, but my mom was one! She didn't preach in a church and, frankly, she didn't overtly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ but she did preach. Mom knew the art of repetition as she would, for example, often nag at my dad until he did the household chore she was persuading him to do. Like Jesus, she also used shocking and sobering words that would get peoples' attention, though I probably shouldn't repeat them here. But, more than that, mom had a way of communicating that she cared for you. She would ask questions and genuinely want to know the answers. When I preach to others I hope that my mom's ethos of love for people, as well as her persuasive skills, would come through me
*Mom Was In Awe of Christ: My mom came to Christ later in life and, like many of us, often struggled in her faith. Her biggest struggle was believing that Christ could graciously and lovingly accept a sinner like her. She often felt this was too good to be true. Mom found God's extravagant grace overwhelmingly uncomparable to anything else she had known. In other words, God's grace was foreign to anything this life did or could offer. How I wish that I and everyone else in the Church would be as shocked by God's "amazing grace" as my mom was. Somehow, we have this tendency to become too big for our britches and forget that "wonderful matchless grace of Jesus sweeter still than all my sin and shame" as the old hymn says. As I grow older in life and ministry, I hope to maintain my mom's sense of wonder and shock at the grace of Christ toward her.
This one's for you , mom.