Spiritual Parenting – A Journey of Discipleship

hillside Devotionals

I recently heard discipleship described as “nurturing Jesus learners”. Reflect with me for a minute…do you have someone in your life that you are spiritually nurturing? How about being spiritually nurtured? No matter how young or old we are, we can be both a discipler and a disciple in different relationships.  

“Have you experienced the kind of spiritual parenting Timothy had with Paul?”

While attending a Leadership Class through Hillside and reading through 2 Timothy 1, this question was posed – “Have you experienced the kind of spiritual parenting Timothy had with Paul?”. It was at that moment I realized I was missing out on one of the most important aspects of my walk with Christ. You see, my parents, while good people, didn’t quite believe in the Gospel so they had no way to disciple me properly when I was growing up. We went to church but it was not about a relationship with Jesus. Upon being saved almost 10 years ago, I’ve had many amazing people in my life but none who I would consider being a spiritual “parent”…that is, until late last year. 

I was invited to join a discipleship group last fall with 3 other ladies I had known for almost a year. A little hesitant, maybe even nervous with fears of being outed for being a “Newborn Christian”, I joined the amazing ladies and will be forever grateful that I did. This is where I found myself in a relationship with a woman who is my “Paul”. She consistently prays for me, walks through scripture and answers questions or brings clarity for difficult passages, gives so much encouragement, and reminds me why I should persevere. She is also someone who I can share my struggles with while getting reassurance and wise counsel from. 

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, I’m reminded of how God uses both physical and spiritual mothers. He uses them as His first disciplers in nourishing His children. The dictionary defines “nourish” as to “care for and encourage growth and development”. Just as God nourishes His people (Matthew 4:4, John 4:13-14, John 6:35), mothers of every kind – whether physical mothers or spiritual ones – nourish those in their care for the purpose of helping them grow. 

God also uses mothers to reveal His sacrificial Gospel. They are daily pictures of what it means to die-to-self. Mothers offer grace and mercy toward the neediest. They tirelessly give of themselves to those who are most demanding. They sacrifice their own personal self-interest for the greater good of someone else. They sustain and protect the most vulnerable. They teach, correct, model, and exhort the dullest of hearing and hard of heart. They repeat themselves over and over again, calling out to those who are forgetful and many times ungrateful. Although moms are imperfect pictures of the Gospel, their sacrificial love is probably the closest thing we have on earth to the unconditional love God has for His children.

He has placed mothers in our lives as living exhibits of His glory. Whether physical or spiritual, mothers participate with God in the process of bringing forth new life. With each physical and spiritual birth, God is glorified and celebrated as the Giver of Life. Paul in Galatians 4:19 mentions this mothering aspect of discipleship when he says, “My little children, who I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” Through a mother’s love and care, we see the faithful love of God which tenderly forms and feeds the people of God. The mother’s calling of creating, laboring, forming, and feeding her children imprints the glory of God on a child’s heart and soul. A spiritual mother’s counsel, prayers, and nourishment imprints the glory of God on the heart and soul of one who may have never felt God’s love and care earlier in life. 

Through the relationship with my “Paul”, the Lord has revealed His goodness, faithfulness, and love for me. I’m grateful for her parenting as I continue to nurture my young Jesus learners. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you physical and spiritual mothers!

Amanda Skinner