6 Ways You Can Be a Spiritual Mama

While still in my thirties, I realized I was an ‘older woman.’

I had stumbled upon the mandate in Titus 2 about older women living in a way that honors God, “They should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women…” It was easy to dismiss this as something for my mother’s generation, until the Spirit spoke into my heart. No matter your age, there are always younger women. And it occurred to me that as a college dean’s wife I had a whole campus full of younger women just outside my door.

So I immediately started a weekly Bible study in my home for college women – yes, even though my hands were full as a part-time radio broadcaster and full-time mama of four young children. As for our gatherings, I know they weren’t perfect and I will probably never know this side of heaven the fruit of our time together. But my obedience to this prompting was the impetus to always keep my eyes open for those I could encourage along life’s journey.

On each Mother’s Day I’m reminded of both my stumbling and soaring as I sought to mother my four quite different children through the many vicissitudes of life. I am utterly grateful that each survived and is now thriving as their own person with a myriad of interests and responsibilities.

But I also realize that my life’s influence goes beyond mothering my own children. I can be a spiritual mama to many throughout my lifetime.

While all women do not necessarily become mothers, I believe all women have the potential to serve as spiritual mothers.

Sometimes such relationships of older women with younger women last for years or a lifetime. More frequently such influencing times last for a season, even for a weekend intensive, such as a conference or retreat.

Inter-generational sharing is important to both the older and younger woman for many reasons. Those of us who have lived more of life and experienced both suffering and God’s faithfulness have many stories and lessons to share with someone a few steps behind. Even though our circumstances may differ, there are universal truths to be learned. From younger women we can discover new ideas, technology, thinking and trends – making us more sensitive to how to help in their many challenging changes. Our hearts and minds open to experiences we might not have otherwise pursued without their influence.

Does the idea of spiritual mothering sound a bit daunting? Perhaps it will help if you think of it as using skills you’ve already learned whilst parenting, teaching or managing a staff.

Here are 6 key actions I have identified as important to those seeking to serve as spiritual mamas:

1.     LISTEN. Get to know someone by truly hearing their heart and not just what they are saying. Be present and truly interested in them as an individual. People are hungry for someone to focus on them in real time, face-to-face. This speaks volumes to their worth.

2.    LOOK. Ask God to help you truly see this person as one created in His image. Discover their unique gifting, passions and skills. Recognize and affirm both the strengths and potential pitfalls in being who they are.

3.     LIFT. Everyone needs a cheerleader. Perhaps you are the one to lift them up and praise the small victories. Encourage through affirmation, good advice, prayer support and being available. Be their safe haven.

4.     LEARN. Just as you have spent a lifetime (no matter how long that is so far) learning about all aspects of the character of God – trustworthy, faithful, unchanging, sovereign, compassionate, strong, and ever-present – you can now help them learn these foundational truths through sharing your stories.

5.     LOVE. Isn’t this the key – deciding that you will be a vessel of God’s unconditional love and acceptance to another person desperately needing assurance that they matter? Love is full of grace to cover our failures. But it is also full of truth to help steer our paths. You can offer both aspects of love to another person with whom you are in authentic relationship.

6.     LAUNCH. Perhaps the hardest stage is when the time comes to let go and lessen the intensity of your interaction. Just remember that all you have been pouring into this person’s life has built to this point. Commit to pray for them and entrust them in God’s capable hands. Leave the fruit with Him.

Where are all the spiritual mamas out there?  Look in the mirror. You are an older woman to someone. God will show you the way, and as a Spiritual Mama myself, I will be cheering you on…

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouragement at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

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  1. Maureen Miller on May 13, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    As always, love your Spirit-led insight! And I love you!

  2. Linda Johnson on May 13, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Good job. Thank you

  3. Sheree Harrington on May 13, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Lucinda,
    I preached on Mother’s Day and the concept of spiritual motherhood was part of my message. Thanks for reminding women who may not have been biological mothers or who are not yet married that they are as I put it “Mothers of the church “ of Jesus Christ. In the black church, this is an important concept as the older women are often referred to as Mother so and so. It is a title of honor and respect.

    • Kirsten Panachyda on May 13, 2020 at 1:42 pm

      Thank you for the encouragement. “Daunting” is a good word to describe how I sometimes see the service of mothering and mentoring. Keeping my eyes on Jesus instead of my faults, failings, and inadequacies is the key. Just love people, and be faithful. Thanks for your words and example!

  4. bam on May 13, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    You were born to be a spiritual mama, and you are brilliant at being so. Your brilliance comes through in radiant love that awakens the heart….
    Thank you. One of your many many daughters….

  5. Pauline Morgan on May 13, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Lucinda,
    Color me surprised (as I am every year) with the numerous texts, emails and card to wish me a Happy Mothers Day.
    I used to hate Mothers Day because I felt “less than” and that any ministry I might have would never be effective because I didn’t have children or a husband. And I was feeling led to minister to women most of who are married with children. But over 30 years later I look back and realize I’ll never know what impact I have had on spiritual lives. But I know God has used my friendship and influence and helped three women invest in their marriages (and they are now in satisfying marriages); several women deal with kids abusing drugs & alcohol and staying beside them through that mess and helping others learn to rely on the Lord in order to step out in ministry. And some of these women faithfully contact me on Mothers Day every year telling me I am a good spiritual mom, grandma, auntie and godmother,. What more would I want this side of heaven!

  6. Maggie Rowe on May 13, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    I just copied and sent the link to this post to the 40 or so women in my adult SS class. Mike and I taught the class (via Zoom) this past Sunday, and the topic was “Many Ways to Be a Mom”. Thanks for this great post that explains it better than we could! Your words will reach many you don’t know this week.

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