Mother’s Day is the most nerve-wracking day of the year for many pastors. If they do a sermon on mothering or the importance of being a mom they will be criticized for not keeping the focus on Jesus and bowing to the pressure of the “Hallmark holidays”. This criticism will come from young men who are reading the Puritans and have completed one semester of seminary online.
If they do a sermon from the next passage in the book of the bible they are currently studying, they will be criticized for not honouring mothers. This criticism will come from older people who remember when the church did tend to make a bigger fuss about all the holidays – Mother’s Day, Fathers’ Day, Remembrance Day, Valentines’ Day, Thanksgiving etc.
If they have the children give out flowers to the ladies, they will be criticized for not understanding that “WOMAN” does not equal “MOTHER”. They will be lambasted for a lack of sensitivity to the challenges of singleness and the awful pain of infertility and miscarriage.
Here is my advice to pastors out there wondering what to do this coming Sunday: honour moms as best you can and eat whatever criticism may come
If they don’t give out flowers, they will be criticized for not recognizing the enormous sacrifice made by mothers and the critical, even world shaping influence that they wield.
I’ve experienced everything cited above over the 29 years I’ve been in ministry.
I’ve preached the mom sermon and I’ve preached the next sermon in the series. I’ve done the flowers and I’ve not done the flowers. I’ve celebrated and prayed for moms and I’ve made a special point of recognizing singles and I can confirm – it is impossible to please everyone on this day. The stakes are too high, the emotions run too deep and the critics, as always, are too many.
This is what I mean by “the pastors’ Kobayashi Maru”. Mother’s Day, for the pastor, is the ultimate no win situation, but no win situations exist in life and how we face them reveals a great deal about who we are inside.
So here is my advice to pastors out there wondering what to do this coming Sunday: honour moms as best you can and eat whatever criticism may come. Write it off as the cost of doing business. You are going to be criticized no matter what you do, so you might as well do what is right and the Bible says:
“Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10 ESV).
Will this make singles feel left out?
Maybe. But there is probably something really healthy about celebrating others and not having everything in a worship service tailored specifically to your life situation.
Will celebrating mothers bring back painful memories for the bereaved and grieving?
But life is filled with pain and loss and sorrow – and YET – the Bible tells us to show honour where it is due. There is no unmixed joy in this world, but there must still be joy. There is no unmixed honour in this world and yet there must be honour.
Moms are wonderful and honouring motherhood is increasingly counter cultural, and on that basis alone, the argument for upping the ante on Mother’s Day gets stronger every year. God made us male and female. He said, “be fruitful and multiply”. For crying out loud, the Apostle Paul said women will be saved through child-bearing (1 Timothy 2:15). So honouring people who have embraced this perspective against unrelenting pressure from the culture ought to be a priority.
We should be handing out mini-vans, not candy bars.
Mothering is an act of faith. It is a declaration of allegiance. It is a statement of hope. It is a form of disciple making. It is mission.
Celebrate the snot out of it.
And eat whatever criticism may come.
Apologize to the offended single person or the grieving person if you have to. Promise to do better next year, even if you don’t have a clue what that means.
But do whatever is within your power to do to honour mothers.
Then go home, turn off all notifications for 48 hours, make lunch for your wife, help your kids express their gratitude, clean up, have a nap and steel yourself for the exact same battle in 365 days time.
Praying for you now,
Pastor Paul Carter
If you are interested in more Bible teaching from Pastor Paul you can access the entire library of Into The Word episodes through the Audio tab on the Into the Word website. You can also download the Into The Word app on iTunes or Google Play.