Motherhood – A Vocation from God

Written by Cara Shonamon
Musings of a Ministering Mother

Susanna Wesley, known to many as “The Mother of Methodism,” and “of Wesleyanism,” I would add, saw motherhood as “a vocation from God.”[1]

This is inspiring coming from a woman who gave birth to 19 children, 9 of whom died in infancy. Her husband was jailed twice for financial mismanagement of his church. I can only imagine how embarrassing that would be for her. In the midst of all the sorrow, embarrassment, frustration, and grief, she still saw motherhood as her call from God.

Susanna took the education of her children seriously, homeschooling her kids, both boys and girls, which was revolutionary for the time. She dedicated 6 hours a day to schooling all of her children. On top of this, she dedicated 1 hour a week to each offspring. Truly amazing.

She could have simply stopped there, but when her husband was in jail and another preacher was sent to the church, she was not satisfied that he was accurately preaching the Gospel, so, she started Sunday school in her own kitchen. When others caught wind of this the group grew, so they relocated to a barn. More than 200 people regularly came to hear Susanna Wesley read sermons.

Motherhood has taken a hit in recent days in our culture. To some, it is portrayed as an inconvenience or burden. In fact, I came across a video the other day, meant as a joke, but it grieved my heart. The mom in the video was acting as if she was at a doctor’s checkup as a nurse asked routine questions:

  • “Do you smoke?”
  • “No.”
  • “Do you drink?”
  • “As needed.”
  • Noticing the nurse was confused by the response, the mother added, “I’m a mom, so I drink as needed!”

Sadly, I fear the attitude expressed here is not unusual for mothers in today’s western world.

A trend on social media is for moms to take photos of their babies in high chairs with messages containing expletives spelled out in alphabet cereal. One illustration read, “She was being a little s*** today.” Wow! Crazy stuff.

If I give everything to the people of my church and have nothing left for my children, I have missed the mark.

Society seems to suggest kids are a burden to mothers; that having children ruins our bodies, or giving of our time to them damages our careers. In short, children are often portrayed as sources of frustration, limitation, and stress. Father, forgive us for letting such attitudes influence us as mothers—even in the church.

Women are uniquely and wonderfully created by God to give birth. Sit back and let that sink in. Women get to be a part of the creation process with God! It’s a gift and an honor. If fact, God exalted all mothers by sending His own son to earth to be born and nurtured by Mary.

With this in mind, I want to speak directly to mothers. You have been given the special gift of children. As such, your call is to be faithful, to reflect the love of God in the lives of your kids.

Sometimes I find myself tempted to view my kids as distractions from what I need to get done as a pastor. But the example of Susanna Wesley reminds me the discipleship of my children is far more important than any service I can extend to a congregation. If I give everything to the people of my church and have nothing left for my kids, I have missed the mark.

The season of life where our kids are young is short. Yes, being a mom at this stage is tiring, stressful, and frustrating, but it is also filled with joy, wonder, love, and laughter. I feel beyond blessed that I have been entrusted by God to help shape the lives of three precious children.

I remain challenged and inspired by Susanna Wesley’s dedication to the academic and spiritual enrichment of her family, and pray I will, like her, pursue my motherly responsibilities as a “vocation from God.”

I close with this prayer by Susanna Wesley:

“Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Your presence. So may my every word and action have a moral content. May all the happenings of my life prove useful and beneficial to me. May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity of exercising some virtue and daily learning and growing toward Your likeness. Amen.”[2]

Rev. Cara Shonamon is co-lead pastor of Shawnee, Kansas, Church of the Nazarene.

[1] Lectio 365 App, July 23, 2022 entry.
[2] Pete Greig, How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People (pp. 30-31). (London: Hodder & Stoughton 2019), p. 31.