How to Lead Like a Mother and Mother Like a Leader

Show of hands: who’s really lost it yet with their fellow quarantinees? I’ve had some moments before this, but yesterday, wham, everything bubbled up. I was going toe-to-toe over something completely stupid with one kid, everything in me wanting to win the argument, while also yelling across the house at the other to please-just-turn-down-the-TV. Meanwhile, hubby decide to intervene which led to a very nice discussion called “Who’s side are you on anyway?”

Once it was all over, I felt like a doofus for awhile. I made my apologies. I got some extra rest last night. I’ll take a little me-time today even if I have to lock myself in the bathroom and concoct a homemade facial. But here’s what I’m not about to do: I’m not about to give up my job as Mother-in-Chief and neither should you, even when you don’t feel exactly up to the task.

What we’ve learned as mothers and from mothers (both natural and spiritual) is exactly what’s going to see us through this pandemic. To that end, I’ve pulled together verses about five moms in the Bible that I hope spur you to see the influence you have on those around you. I’m praying for you in this time. We’ve got this!

A mom who rallied the troops: “Life in the villages ceased; it ended in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel.” Judges 5:7

Like Deborah, you are leading and loving others at a time when normal community has ceased and fear runs rampant. Now is a good time to take stock of all God has taught you about His faithfulness, strength, and promises. That time your family faced a job loss? What did God show you then that can rally the troops now? That time He carried you through a bleak diagnosis? What did you learn about His character that you can declare in the face of fear? Here’s another thing about Deborah: she got her marching orders straight from God, operating in the power of the Holy Spirit as she led His people. Now is not the season to skip daily time with the Lord. Your people—whether in your own family or in other circles of influence—depend on the good judgement and wisdom He’s ready to give you each day.

A mom who mothered spiritual children: “Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.” Romans 16:13

People need spiritual moms right now. They’re ready to listen to calm, strong, reassuring women, perhaps like never before. Think about every time Dr. Deborah(!) Birx stands behind the podium to tell us what we need to know about the pandemic. Standing there in her colorful scarf and neatly pinned hair, she helps us to be smarter and braver. As a Christ-following woman, you can be the spiritual version of that for someone else. The Apostle Paul, serving on the front lines of Christianity, takes time to thank a spiritual mother and in so doing, points to the value of using what we’ve learned about compassion, care, and common sense to minister to those around us. Is there a single young adult who would love some reassurance from you? Is there an overwhelmed young mom who needs encouragement (and maybe a virtual story-time session for her kids so she can have a moment to herself)?

A mom (and a grandma) who won at homeschooling: “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.” 2 Timothy 1:5

Here’s Paul again celebrating the work of mothers, this time a mom and grandmother duo who passed on their faith to the young pastor Timothy. For those of you who are suddenly confronted with a houseful of kids who have no school to attend, I want to say this: No matter what lessons your kids do or don’t learn over the next several weeks, they have a chance to learn what it takes to walk faithfully with God. You have an opportunity to influence them that you may never have again, and my prayer is that we will ask God to “open a door for our message that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3).

A mom who influenced a kingdom: “The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.” Proverbs 31:1

Where do you have influence? Think about it. Pray about it. Whether it’s the hearts of your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, or your social media community, you have the opportunity to step out in leadership. That’s what King Lemuel’s mom did. She had the ear of the king and leveraged her place of influence to teach him to rule a nation. She taught him to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). And oh yes, she also taught him to value women as more than conquests or political pawns. Imagine the impact such a mother had! You’ve got a chance to exercise leadership and influence, too, whether it’s modeling compassionate behavior at the supermarket or fighting with the fierceness of a mother bear to preserve the jobs of your employees. Mothers are more than the “hands that rock the cradle” and always have been.

A mom who never forgot: Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15 

Finally, we’ve got a model for how to lead like a mother and mother like a leader from the Great Parent of us all. I love the tenderness of God’s words here as he likens himself to a nursing mother who loves her child with every fiber of her body. For those who’ve breastfed, you may remember the physical sensation when two to three hours have passed since the last feeding. Your body literally reminds you of your baby by sending the next supply of milk—and sometimes starts it flowing before you reach for your child. Regardless of whether you nursed or not, every mother I know continues to have an instinctive desire to reach out for their kids and provide for them even when they are grown. God says that he remembers us even more quickly and responsively than that. That means that first, we can trust Him to love us through these troubling times, and second, we can take that love and serve it up to a soul-starved community. We have the chance to show the world the strong yet tender nature of God, who never, ever forgets to lead with love. May we step into the opportunities He has for us and change our world because of it.

Photo credit James Wheeler at Unsplash.

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