By Trillia Newbell
The other morning I woke up while my children were still sleeping and began to pray. I started thinking about my identity. Who am I? As I settled into my prayer time, I began to rejoice at the thought that I am a mother. It is part of who I am. To my children, it is my name: Mom.
The modern mom doesn’t always like to be identified as a mother. We have names and identities of much greater significance. Even the Christian mommy would prefer to keep her mom identity in check. “I am a Christian first and foremost,” we might say, which is true and good. First and foremost, we are united to Christ. He has redeemed us and therefore our identities are wrapped up in his righteousness. But this doesn’t mean we must deny the significance of being a mother.
Rather than shed the title of mother, we must see the true significance of this name. One great example of a mother’s significance can be found in the biblical account of Timothy. Timothy was the son of a believing Jewish mother and an unbelieving Greek father (Acts 16:1–2). And we get some crucial information about his mother, Eunice.
Timothy was a young pastor and Paul’s child in the faith (1 Tim. 1:2). Paul loved Timothy for his faithfulness to the sacred texts and for his friendship (2 Tim. 3:15, 10–11). When everyone abandoned Paul during his imprisonment in Rome, Timothy remained faithful to Paul through prayers and tears (2 Tim. 1:3–5). Paul was greatly affected by the ministry and love of his apprentice. And Paul attributes Timothy’s faith and character to his mother’s and his grandmother’s faithful witness.
Paul references the legacy of these women in two places. First, we see their influence when Paul thanks God for Timothy and his faith. He reminds him that his sincere faith dwelt first in his grandmother Lois, and then his mother Eunice, and “now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5). Later, Paul encourages Timothy to stay strong in the word, not being deceived under the persecution that surely comes from those who follow Christ (2 Tim. 3:12–14). Here again Paul reminds Timothy of the word that he learned and firmly believed from a young age, “from childhood” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Moms, Timothy’s story is very significant. Eunice and Lois invested in Timothy to teach him about God. The gospel was passed on to Timothy and from Timothy to other generations. More importantly, Timothy now enjoys the benefits of being with Christ, forever.
God has called us, Moms, to train up our children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). This is Great Commission work. We don’t need to shed our titles as moms, we leverage our titles for what they mean for the glory of Christ. We can embrace our roles without grumbling and with the full assurance of God’s sovereign goodness. God promises that as we shine light into this world (and that includes into our kids) we will know that our labor was not in vain (Phil. 2:12–16).
On this side of heaven we may never know the significance of our mothering, but we know Lois’s and Eunice’s. As a result of their faithfulness to embrace their role in the life of one little boy named Timothy, generations of sinners have been saved.1
This excerpt is taken from Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope. To hear more from Trillia Newbell, watch Logos’ roundtable on women in theology featuring Trillia, Sharon Hodde Miller, and Wendy Widder.
1 Fox, Christina, Gloria Furman, Christine Hoover, Rachel Jankovic, Rachel Pieh Jones, Carolyn McCulley, and Trillia Newbell. Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope. Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2014.