Two weeks after I lost my earthly father, I gained my heavenly One. The Lord called me into his refuge after I watched my dad wither away from cancer. As a 28-year-old, newly-converted from atheism, I didn’t have a clue about the Bible, the gospel, spiritual gifts, or anything of value pertaining to the Christian life.
Our 5-year-old daughter witnessed the injection of hope into my life after receiving Christ as my Lord and Savior. For forty days, I sparkled like a firework with the thrill of salvation. My grief had been consumed by my happiness in Christ, and I was enjoying the sweet fruits of communion with the most intriguing Person in the universe.
How the gospel intersected with the finer points of motherhood didn’t become clear until years later. I was so caught up in trying to flesh out the implications of new identity in Christ that I didn’t give much thought to how the process would affect our daughter. Seven years later, she still remembers those early days. She was there to watch my baptism testimony. I brought her along to discipleship groups and service opportunities. For me, Christ didn’t offer a long list of how-to’s and to-do’s pertaining to motherhood. Rather, he offered the satisfying love I desperately needed—a gift my daughter watched me unwrap day after day.
As new Christians navigating motherhood, it’s tempting to burden ourselves with over-complicated advice. But introducing new faith into our parenting can be a much more organic endeavor than we might think. By observing the conversion and relationships of the Apostle Paul, we find a wealth of parental wisdom for the matter.
Those closest to Paul were eye-witnesses to his miraculous gospel transformation—a persecutor of the church turned leading evangelist to the Gentiles. Though technically childless, he had “sons” in the faith—younger men who labored beside him for the sake of the gospel. Titus and Timothy were two of those young men.
Paul was their spiritual father-figure, and they were his spiritual sons. Together, they lived life, proclaimed the gospel, planted churches, and loved one another with sincere affection. As a result, Titus and Timothy witnessed Paul’s successes and struggles, watching first-hand how God’s grace was sufficient for him in all circumstances. In writing to Timothy, Paul reflects on his transparency:
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me…continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Tim. 3:10-11, 14).
For Paul, living in the light of redemption meant inviting others into his personal journey with Jesus. Because he totally relied upon Christ’s righteousness for acceptance before God, he wasn’t ashamed to speak of his zealous past. Paul’s deepest desire was to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.
Paul kept Christ’s work in his life front and center—and so can we. Even our young children can benefit from observing what faith-in-action really looks like, in all of its highs and lows. Christian motherhood isn’t about personifying perfection. It's about learning to be an imitator of Christ who loved us and gave himself for us, and welcoming our children into the process. The new life we’ve received from Jesus becomes a new love we get to pour into our children. It blesses them, benefits us, and most importantly, brings glory to God.
Our faithful pursuit of taking pleasure in Jesus is the best witness we can offer our family. By taking the time to share how God is working in our lives, we attract our children to the larger story of God’s redemption. If Jesus is the Gift that keeps on giving, what better way to share the treasure than by inviting our children to come and see for themselves?
As Timothy and Titus benefited from Paul’s spiritual fathering, so too can we profit from seeking out mature Christian women who can encourage our growth in Christ. We need to remember that spiritual maturity takes discipline, patience, and steadfast perseverance—all of which is empowered by the Holy Spirit through God’s word. It also requires the “mothering” of our local Christian community. Relationships with gospel-centered female mentors help us to understand how to live as godly women in today’s culture.
In the coming years, we’ll be continually transformed into the likeness of God’s only Son, whose death and resurrection paved our way to eternal life. The simplest endeavor we can embrace as mothers saved by grace is to offer our children a taste of God’s goodness. What a tremendous honor and joy and privilege we have in sharing our Lord with our children! Let them see what it means for a human heart to be touched by heaven—in all its present flaws and all its coming glories.
Christine M. Chappell is the author of Clean Home, Messy Heart, the host of The Hope + Help Project podcast, and is a guest contributor at Desiring God. She writes frequently about mental health topics at her blog faithfulsparrow.com, has completed biblical counseling certificates with the Institute for Biblical Counseling & Discipleship, and is currently pursuing certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Connect with Christine on Facebook and Instagram.
 Phil. 3:5-6
 Acts 26:13-18
 1 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4
 2 Cor. 12:9-10
 Phil. 3:6
 Phil. 3
 Eph. 5:1-2
 Titus 2:3-5
 1 Cor. 3:1-2