What I Learned from My Mother about Ministry

My mother died in June, and so my thoughts have been caught up with family and grief and memories. I’ve been writing mostly about money for the last year or two, but I want to take a break from that and write about what I learned from my mother that has helped me in my ministry.

My mother was secretary for several pastors, including for her own father, and an active church member and leader all of her life. Here are ten things she taught me to do:

1. To do what I say I’m going to do. My mother was absolutely reliable.
2. To be organized. I remember from childhood every Sunday morning Mom gathering what she needed for her responsibilities.
3. To anticipate what’s coming. She wasn’t a worrier, but she liked to plan ahead.
4. To welcome people to church. My mother was a bit anxious as a hostess in her home, but was wonderful at reaching out to newcomers at their church.
5. To be accurate. My uncle told a story at my mother’s memorial service about my mother, aunt and grandmother all sitting, picking up the church bulletin and a pencil and circling the typos and grammatical errors!
6. To have a disciplined devotional life. When we cleaned out my parents’ condo I found stacks of notebooks that she had used to record her spiritual thoughts during her daily Bible reading and prayer.
7. To listen. One of my cousins told me recently he always felt like he had her full attention when he was talking with her.
8. To love the Bible. My mother read the Bible through many times in her life. She could recite Scripture almost to the end of her life. She wasn’t a scholar, but she had an encyclopedic knowledge of Bible content.
9. To love church music. She remembered the words to hymns after much of her memory was gone. And she also understood that church music needed to evolve for new generations.
10. To support the church financially. She and my father gave a double tithe for many years.

I’m grateful for her life and for all I received from her.

Edwin Friedman asked, “What gifts did your parents give you?” How might you answer that question?

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