I wanted to write a post for all of you overwhelmed mothers out there. I was blown away by the correspondence I received when I urged mothers to let mothers mother. Let’s face it: moms have a unique burden placed upon them.
Many of you are overwhelmed with your wonderful calling because it is a difficult one. You can easily lose focus. I’ve heard from many mothers how it is difficult to find any time to pray or study God’s Word which makes you feel like you are running on empty. Sure, you can go for a while, but after a while, you are worried when the fumes run out and the car just has to pull over.
If you are in need of a refresher or some ideas from a famous mother, I’ve got one to share with you:
Susanna Wesley was the mother of John and Charles Wesley. She did not just have the two sons but had a total of 19 children. John and Charles were powerful men of God who wrote many hymns and founded the Methodist and Wesleyan Denomination.
It was said of her that “…although she never preached a sermon or published a book or founded a church, (she) is known as the Mother of Methodism. Why? Because two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, as children consciously or unconsciously will, they applied the example and teachings and circumstances of their home life.”
She was born in 1669. She gave birth to nineteen children, ten survived into adulthood.
Susanna ran a strict, ordered household and homeschooled all of her children. She knew Latin, Greek, French as well as philosophy and politics. She taught her children for six hours a day (9am-12N and 2-5pm) and each of her children began their schooling the day after their fifth birthday, with each child expected to learn the alphabet on their first day.
Each week, she spent an hour with each child, to know them and their desires better and to talk with them about spiritual matters to direct each child’s path.
She also spent at least one hour a day in private prayer, often at the kitchen table with her apron pulled up over her head – a sure sign to her children not to disturb her. With all these children, she made time for God every day. She made time for what she knew was important and lasting and it showed in her children.
What is more amazing about this woman is that she did it almost entirely alone. Her husband, Samuel Wesley, spent much time away from the home. He was imprisoned twice for unpaid debts. He left the family home for five months at one point due to a fight he had with Susanna about politics. His work as a minister provided meager income and the exposition he was writing on the book of Job consumed much of the family’s finances.
On top of these hardships, their home was burnt down twice; a baby of hers was accidentally smothered by a nursemaid they had employed due to Susanna’s exhaustion. Her husband died before her as did some of her adult children.
Susanna’s children are a lasting testament to her strength in the face of adversity.
16 Rules for Raising Children
I discovered Susannah Wesley’s 16 Rules for Raising Children:
- Eating between meals not allowed.
- As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.
- They are required to take medicine without complaining.
- Subdue self-will in a child, and those working together with God to save the child’s soul.
- To teach a child to pray as soon as they can speak.
- Require all to be still during Family Worship.
- Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.
- To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.
- Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
- Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
- Comment on and reward good behavior.
- Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.
- Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
- Strictly observe all promises.
- Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
- Teach children to fear the rod.
She would pray for her children, in front of them, behind their backs, for their salvation, and for their closeness to God. She is a powerful example of prayer and faith in Christ.
During this week, find some time to be refreshed in God. Even if it means pulling the apron over your head!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.