Mirror—British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott wrote of a critical role mothers play in their infants’ lives: acting as a mirror to reflect babies’ own selves and moods back at them. As children grow up, good mothers continue to reflect for their children, telling kids who they are and how the world sees them. Spiritual mothers can do the same, pointing out potential they may not see in themselves, helping them identify their spiritual gifts, and identifying habits they need to change.
Share wisdom—Mothers teach their children, both intentionally and unintentionally, formally and informally. Spiritual mothers have both knowledge and wisdom to give, and they can help younger believers see things from a completely different perspective.
Impart vision—Mothers help their children see what’s possible and envision their own success in the future. Spiritual mothers help people develop vision too, particularly for how God can use them and what it might mean for them to take steps of faith.
Teach them how to walk—Speaking of taking steps, mothers help their children learn to walk—and cheer them on as they run. Spiritual mothers walk alongside as younger people take tentative steps of faith, struggle to maintain balance, and try again after falling. And they celebrate when their “spiritual children” sprint ahead.
Model how to talk—Mothers model speech for their children, who learn to speak the language that surrounds them. That gift of language becomes the chief tool children use to make sense of their experiences, learn, remember, and connect with the world around them. Spiritual mothers offer this kind of modeling too, helping to shape the words—and the thought processes—of the people they nurture.
Say yes—One of the great joys of motherhood is saying yes to children, having the ability or the means to give them what they need or want. Spiritual mothers not only can enjoy the privilege of giving people something they need; they can confirm people’s thoughts, convictions, and interpretations of Scripture. They can affirm the desires God has placed within them.
Say no—Saying yes may be fun, but every good mother also knows how to say no. Spiritual mothers, too, lovingly say no for the good of those they influence. Sometimes “no” is a correction or a challenge; sometimes it’s a much-needed confrontation. And sometimes it’s simply an assertion of boundaries.