The greatest thing some of you will ever do for the Kingdom of God is not something you do, but someone you raise.– Andy Stanley
History has sung the praises of great men and women of God who have broken down the gates of hell in their generation, advanced the Kingdom and changed the world. Men like St. Augustine, John Wesley, and Billy Graham. The backstory that rarely gets told is the profound impact that many of their parents had on bringing them to faith and forming their faith.
Augustine is one of the greatest church leaders in history. His writings and work majorly influenced Reformers like Calvin and Luther, and is still impacting us today. But he never would have come to Christ if not for his mom, Monica. Augustine was a prodigal and rejected Christ from an early age. He lived a wild life of luxury and promiscuity. Monica prayed fervently for him for years, and so persisted in asking for prayer that one Bishop told her out of annoyance, “Leave me and go in peace. It cannot be that the son of these tears should be lost.”
Her prayers won out, heaven answered, and Augustine came to Christ. Later in life, in his most famous work, “Confessions,” Augustine admitted to the Lord that his mother’s prayers saved him:
You sent down your help from above and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son.
Another Christian mother whose witness and love for her children helped alter the course of church history was Susanna Wesley. She had 19 children, but only 10 of them survived to adulthood. With her husband away much of the time for work, she virtually raised and educated them herself. As David Roach writes of her:
On a rotating basis, each child had a night for individual conversation and prayer with Susanna. She wrote commentaries on the Apostles Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer as curriculum for her children. One of her sons, John, led thousands to Christ and organized what became known after his death as the Methodist Church. Another son, Charles, wrote more than 6,000 hymns, including “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and “Rejoice, the Lord Is King. Susanna has been called the “Mother of Methodism” though she never preached and published very few writings.
Christian George, assistant professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, once said this about Susanna’s influence:
Susanna patterns for us a mother who worked tirelessly to provide for her children. She shows us the power and influence that a mother can have over the development of a child’s theology, spirituality and worldview. She proved to be a woman of great resilience in the face of a domestic life riddled with difficulty, illness and loss. Some of Christian history’s greatest preachers, theologians and missionaries owe the first fruits of their ministries not to their exegetical insights, homiletic abilities or spiritual zeal, but instead to the faithful prayers of their godly mothers. In the lives of countless Christians throughout the ages, God has often granted second births as a result of those who gave them their first.
SO WHAT ABOUT YOU?
History sings the praises of those who have preached to thousands or written books that challenge our faith. But Heaven will also sing the praises of the parents who paved the way.
My entire relationship with Christ, I’ve desired to be a Christian who does great things for the cause of Christ. One of those on the front lines. One who does great things that will go down in history, like an Augustine or Wesley or Spurgeon. But since having children, God has convicted me deeply that whatever I may get to do with and for him in my generation, He desires to do far greater things in and through my kids. I believe God’s desire is that my ceiling is their ground floor in the Kingdom!
Therefore, I’ve come to believe that, as Andy Stanley once so profoundly said, the greatest thing I will ever do for the Kingdom is not something I will do, but someone I raise.
May we raise them well and raise them up to help people experience the difference Jesus makes and make a difference in his name!
Lord, let us love our children as passionately and faithfully as you love us! And may we raise them up in Your ways and Word to prepare them for Your great purpose in their generation! Amen.