“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.” (Romans 16:13, ESV)
About 30 years ago, I served as the chairman of the board of elders in a small church in Savannah Georgia. When the pastor resigned, the ministry of the church fell into my lap during the transition, which lasted about a year. In some ways it was an exciting time for me. It meant preaching three services a week, directing the board of elders and overseeing the pastoral search process.
However, there were some discouraging times also. I felt for a while like all we were doing was hanging on. While the fellowship was growing together, we were seeing no first-time guests. One day as I was sitting up on the platform waiting to begin, I began praying, “Lord, please send us a guest today, I need some encouragement.” As I finished the prayer, in walked an elderly couple. Peggy and Preston.
In the coming weeks, they continued to attend and invited their daughter and her family who started attending regularly. Yet there was much more that this couple did. They continued to be of great encouragement to me in this new role. In particular, Peggy became sort of a spiritual mother.
I remember one Sunday morning I preached a sermon. I do not remember what it was about. Ok, it was about 30 years ago. But I do remember that morning when we got home, my wife, Chris, said to me, “I didn’t get it,” referring to the sermon. That kind of hit hard and I attempted to explain why that sermon brought some awesome truth to light. She repeated, “I still don’t get it.” I do love honesty.
Well, that evening, back at the church building and prior to the evening service, I was standing with Chris, and Peggy came up to me and told me what a wonderful and blessed sermon I had given that morning. I am not certain if she read something in my downtrodden countenance, but she encouraged me greatly. It was something I needed before getting up to preach again.
Peggy and Preston continued to encourage me in regards to ministry. Peggy was a real spiritual mother to us. Paul here mentions a woman, the mother of Rufus who he said was a mother to him as well. Now this was not his natural mother, but in some way acted like a mother to him. She in some undisclosed way cared for Paul in his journey of service to the Lord.
There are many ways that one can be a spiritual mother to another. It could be through encouragement and friendship as Peggy demonstrated to us. It might be through meeting material needs or providing financial support. Perhaps it might include providing lodging for a time. Yet, one thing that I believe will characterize a spiritual mother is the demonstration of that special motherly love for her child. I believe Paul experienced this from Rufus’ mother and Chris and I experienced this from Peggy.
If you have had the blessing of such a person in your life, give thanks. Perhaps you see a servant of the Lord pouring his heart out for the glory of God. Consider having the heart of a spiritual parent for him or her. That person will never forget you.