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The "Mom" Phenomenon

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 258

I'd like you to meet "Mom." No, she's not really my mother. She's not even related to me at all. She's over eighty years old, widowed for many years, but as sharp as a tack. She's a preacher's kid, too.
 
Most important, outside my family she's my strongest supporter. She's "Mom."
 
Everyone in ministry, I believe, ought to have a "Mom." "Mom" is the best and most faithful supporter one can have. She always sits in the front pew and attends to every word. In Bible class she always has a friendly comment or a serious question. No matter what the topic or how controversial the issue, "Mom" is always there--listening, reflecting and responding--just like a mother. That's why, after all, she's my "Mom."
 
The Value of "Mom"'s
 
Perhaps one of the biggest secrets of support in ministry is having a "Mom." Moms are the spiritual type of women, perhaps like Timothy's grandmother, who have a time-and-trial-tested faith. They've suffered significant grief. They experienced unrecoverable losses. Through it all, these Moms often have a wisdom unparalleled in the church.
 
They are also an excellent resource for support, ideas, constructive criticism, and suggestions for difficult situations. Enjoying the prime of their senior years, they have a special insight on people, especially church people. Since they've been active in the church for much of their adult life, they have a handle on church behaviors. They know the games church people play. They also have a keen sense of understanding the way difficult people work. They also understand how difficult people can affect both ministry and minister.
 
Characteristics Of "Mom"s
 
Moms have several characteristics. Depending on the type and personality of "Mom" which God might find most suitable for you, Moms have a variety of gifts, inclinations, and preferences. But every genuine "Mom" has the following characteristics.
 
1) They tend to be largely unnoticed.
Mom's don't usually make a big scene. Many may not even know them. Enjoying the solitude of faith, "Mom"'s are largely unnoticed. Their greatest strength is not based on being noticed or drawing attention to themselves. That is an important part of what makes them so very valuable.
2) They are not part of the political machinery of the church.
Though they might be in their final years of teaching Sunday School or some other ministry in the church, they are not "in charge." They have not served on the church's governing board for years...or ever. Nor do they have an interest in it. In fact, they probably don't even know who's on the various governing boards and committees. They're just there to worship, serve and support the ministry...and those who minister.
3) They don't have extensive, active intra-church communication networks.
Though friendly with others, they are not part of the communication chain (read "rumor mill") of the church. Instead, they prefer to keep a distance from the "clutter" part of church life.

4) They are lovingly direct.

They are not afraid of sharing their opinions in a direct but caring way. Never probing or seeking a way to subvert the agenda or ministry, they are comfortable with who they are.
 
They also are comfortable with being honest about what they think--and in a compassionate and supportive way. They will tell you when they think you are wrong. They will also tell you when you are right. They will also be direct as they respond to evaluative suggestions.
5) They are undeniably spiritual.
In Galatians 6, Paul directed those "who are spiritual" to address difficult situations. Being intensely spiritual, Moms have an enormous capacity to see things from a more godly, patient, time-seasoned and experienced-reasoned perspective. Indeed, they are spiritual giants. As regards their faith, they shall not be moved. Nothing shall separate them from the love of God.

6) They are confidential.

Though any sharing of ministry struggles must be done with great care, over the years ministers can gain a great sense of trust and confidentiality in these special servants of God. They know your ups, your downs, your ins and outs, your frustrations and your joys. But, most important, they keep it to themselves.

7) They are appreciative.

As long as "Mom" is around, there's plenty of appreciation and support. Moms pray for their "sons" and "daughters" even as they pray for their own. Their love and respect for their "sons" or "daughters" is often shown by random acts of kindness and Christian love.

8) An occasional hug is their greatest reward.

It may seem like a small price to pay for such great rewards. For Moms the most valuable thing is that occasional hug. This hug affirms the friendship, the trust and all the joy that this special relationship gives.

9) They always smile back.

Whether preaching, teaching, shaking hands, or just carrying on the work of ministry, they always smile back. It's their special way of affirming ministry. Sometimes, when they're feeling really good, they may even share a joke or two. To have a source of never-ending smiles is a wonderful antidote for the "ups and downs" of ministry. But the smile is much more than just an antidote. It's the smile of faithful friendship offered, and received, to the glory of God.

10) They will listen with the heart of God.

Over the years they've talked to God so much sometimes it seems they've learned to listen like God, too! Though not God, sometimes Moms can be the next best thing, especially when the family is also overwhelmed by the cares and anxieties of parsonage life.

11) They are faithful to pastors and respectful of Christian leaders.

Often pastors become rightly suspicious when they hear individuals deride other pastors. After all, people are consistent. If they will despise one pastor, they'll despise another. That "another" might become you. Moms, on the other hand, have a rich history of positive experiences with consecutive pastors.

The reason they "idolize" you is because they have done the same for their many, many pastors over the years. Indeed, Moms have a virtually uninterrupted history of befriending, supporting and aiding pastors. Though mature seniors, these individuals have always had "mom" in them. Their wisdom and experience--and freedom from marriage and child-rearing responsibilities--enables them to be a ready help and faithful friend to those in God's service.

12) They are, above all, exemplary in their faithfulness to God.

They have a lifelong history of faithfulness to God. As health permits, their faithfulness is demonstrated by attendance at every worship service, Bible class, personal Bible reading and devotions, and a generous heart of service and sacrifice for their Lord and others.

Though not necessarily rich, they demonstrate the wealth of their faith by giving the "widow's mite." Though the amount may be relatively small, the Lord sees in their gift what they are really giving: their entire heart, soul and mind in love to their Lord.

How To Find A "Mom"
 
Mom's are born and made by God. Finding them, however, can take time. Whether one is a male or female, finding a "Mom" is like finding a friend. It can't be forced or rushed. Moms are found as a result of God's almost unnoticeable working in, with and through a congregation. Some clues to help identify prospective moms might include those who...

1) Send you a card for every occasion.

2) Give a personal gift to their pastor just because the pastor is "special."

3) Regularly do 'behind the scenes" activity at church without being noticed.

4) Do not hang around to talk with the church cliques.

5) Have no need to impress anyone in the church.

6) They have a quiet confidence in themselves.

7) Have very few, if any, enemies in the church.

8) Are very discreet about how they talk about naysayers, antagonists, and others.

9) Are not emotionally "needy," insecure, or otherwise not having a strong sense of self. Indeed, they may have a preference for solitude.

10) Are generally respected by others as having a deep sense of Christian character.

11) Are responsive to the experiences of ministry and able to share and uplift by their conversation, prayers and constant support.

12) Are always appreciative of the simple things of ministry and the simple working in God.

Start Finding Your "Mom" Today!
 
One might dare say that without a "Mom" one cannot experience the fullest extent of support God has for His servants in ministry. Their unconditional support and interest in your ministry will be an added, but virtually essential, anchor for ministry.
 
Are you feeling as if no one is interested in your ministry? Feeling as if there's no one there you can really trust for honest, long-term support? Looking for someone who's not "in it for themselves" but, instead, is truly interesting in the Lord's church? Looking for a friend for life?
 
God's answer to your dilemma may be as close as the individual sitting in the front pew. God may have a "Mom" for each of us. These special gifts are there to be found and enjoyed. Ask God today to show you your congregational "Mom" and prepare for the best and most loyal supportive member and confidant you can find.
 
After you've found the "Mom" God has given you, may God enable you to pray the ""Mom" Prayer" daily.

Help us, O Lord, to concentrate on them, and not the naysayers.

Thomas F. Fischer

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:24 PM