Have mercy on your pastor this Mother’s Day

When the COVID pandemic first began, I saw a lot of blog posts and articles pleading with people to be compassionate towards their pastor because he had likely never shepherded people through such an occasion before. It would take time to discern the best course of action in response to ever-changing information, and he had people on opposite sides of every fence involved.

Pastors face a similar dilemma on Mother’s Day, no matter whether this is their first pastoral Mother’s Day or their 50th. They will likely have people in all these circumstances in their congregations:

  • women who desperately want to have children, but God has not granted them yet
  • women who love their children but are tired and discouraged
  • women who are in despair over their parenting failures and need guidance
  • women who have no desire to be mothers
  • women who are single by choice or by circumstance
  • women whose children are wayward and breaking their hearts
  • women whose children have died
  • people whose mothers were not honorable
  • people who are estranged from their mothers
  • people whose mothers have died
  • people who don’t even know they need a Savior

Anna Jarvis probably had no idea she was creating such a minefield when she sought a simple way to honor her mother.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook already indicating that Mother’s Day shouldn’t be observed in church because it’s not a national holiday. Prophets and preachers in the Bible spoke about current events, and honoring parents is a biblical teaching. So it’s not wrong to observe the day. But whether that observation should be just a passing acknowledgment, or the whole service should be built around it, is up to each pastor’s leading of his particular congregation.

Whether pastors let the holiday go by unobserved and carry on with whatever book or series they are preaching through, or they choose to honor mothers in some way, someone is going to be offended.

Can I urge us as Christian women to be mature in response to whatever path the pastor chooses to take? To remember that love “does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:5). To understand that there are different needs among the congregation? No one sermon will meet them all except as it points us back to the only Savior who can help and heal and provide grace.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (II Timothy 3:16-17). Whatever God lays on the pastor’s heart to preach this Sunday, if it is based on the Word of God, it will be profitable for us.

Let’s pray for our pastors to preach the message God wants him to preach that day. Let’s pray for grace for our particular triggers, seek to get from the message what God has for us, and seek to encourage others rather than focusing on self.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

22 thoughts on “Have mercy on your pastor this Mother’s Day

  1. OH!
    Our pastors are only human and are shepherding ewes of every kind
    Let’s trust for a gracious stoicism to carry our Mother’s Day burdens with courage.

  2. Thank you for this post, Barbara. I am in the section of pastors who does not plan services or sermons around cultural holidays, but with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the Patriotic Days too, I do my best to acknowledge the day with a prayer that covers those different reactions that you mention, but it is never the whole service. I appreciate the sensitive nature with which you approached this topic. Blessings, Michele

    • Mother’s Day services have seemed to be toned down from what they were when I was a teenager, which is probably good. Society is not always sympathetic to mothers, so it’s good to acknowledge and support them while not putting them on a pedestal or making others who aren’t mothers feel bad.

      • I certainly agree. I know many people personally for whom mother’s day is a painful experience. I don’t think it should go away, but sensitivity is called for. Thanks again, Michele

  3. I feel for pastors these days anyway, with people getting offended at every little thing. This is a great example of that. I don’t envy them, and honestly whatever they want to say (or not say) on Mother’s Day is fine with me 🙂 Next week at the church where I play organ the pastor won’t be there. The elder today said that next week they’d like all the men to share a memory of their mother. Then he quickly mentioned, “a positive one!” Ha ha … ???

    • Funny that he had to amend his request! Our former church did that on the Sunday evening service for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day one year, though open to everyone to share. It was neat to hear the memories. And I think that’s where the emphasis needs to be–honoring our mothers, even if, like mine, they are no longer living–not so much seeking honor as a mother.

  4. Amen!! We should love and honor our mothers every day, or Mother’s Day rings false; and while a day set aside to recognize mothers shouldn’t hurt or offend others, that is often an unintended consequence. Let us each be sensitive and loving, and pray for our pastors and leaders while we pray for the mothers in our lives.

  5. Mother’s Day is excruciating to so many women for so many reasons. I know that some simply remove themselves from church for that day because it’s too heartwrenching to see all the accolades, flowers, applause, prayers, and celebration.

    I hear them …

    • I do, too, Linda. It’s hard to balance sometimes. Society has often tended to downplay motherhood in favor of other pursuits, so those ladies can use support and encouragement. But it’s intensely painful when one wants to be a mom and can’t. Thankfully most churches seem to be toning it down these days as compared to what they did when I was a teenager.

  6. I’ve been the mom who experienced infertility, the mom who miscarried, the mom who struggles, the mom with some living deep for Jesus and some indecisive. Yet, I’ve been the child of a walk-away dad (think Father’s Day) – and what I learned from that is that I learn when I hear stories about the love of a Father. I learn more what kind of Father God is – what kind of parent I want to be. When we celebrate the goodness of these roles – we teach people how to love people better, whether you’re a physical mom/dad or a spiritual mom/dad. I hope ministers give a message that lifts up, that shows the motherless and fatherless what it is to have a loving mom and dad, that encouragers moms and dads to not give up on their kiddos.

  7. Ah, Barbara … Mother’s Day. I love the personal celebration we have at home, but I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to experience Mother’s Day at church in the midst of infertility. Not fun, for sure. At the same time, I appreciate your advice to pray for our pastors specifically regarding Mother’s Day … that they will share what God wants them to share and those who hear them will receive what they need from it. Happy Mother’s Day to you, my friend.

  8. “Let’s pray for our pastors to preach the message God wants him to preach that day. Let’s pray for grace for our particular triggers …” Yes, let’s be praying for balance and grace. Such wisdom in this, Barbara!

  9. Amen! Our Pastors can’t possibly get Mother’s Day right for everyone and I appreciate the reminder that we’re called to love rather than resentment.

  10. I don’t think I realized there were ten different “places” a woman’s heart could be and some women might have a combination of these “heart places,” so I appreciate you pointing them out to us. Definitely something to pray about for this coming Sunday.

  11. These are wise words to consider, I actually had not thought of this before. 1 Corinthians 13:5 is a timely verse for issues in our culture today. Thank you for giving me something to think about and remember!

  12. Pingback: May Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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