The Parable of the Three Moms

There once lived three women, whom the Maker chose to bless with motherhood. He entrusted the first mother with five children, the second mother with two children, and the third mother with one child. The women understood that these children did not belong to them or their husbands. They were entrusted to them, as parents, for a time. The mothers also knew that one day the Maker would call them to account for their parenting investment.  

The Mother of Five

The first mother poured herself into parenting her five children. While they were young, she faithfully took advantage of the (approximately) seventy-two teachable moments afforded her each day, encouraging her children to love God and walk in His ways.

Together, the woman and her husband trained their children to invest in God’s kingdom. As a family they served on missions trips, showed hospitality to neighbors and friends, and helped with outreach programs through their church. The children gained the perspective that the best in life comes to those who serve God and walk in His ways.

When it was time, each of the five children stepped into adulthood, ready to represent God and spread His kingdom. They followed wherever God led them—which was often quite far from home. But their mother smiled through her tears and urged her children to spend life, not preserve it. She had no greater joy than to hear of her children walking in truth, and leading others to do the same.     

The Mother of Two

The second mother was also quite industrious. She taught her twin boys to love God’s Word and hide it in their hearts. She trained them to live like Jesus did—to be humble and serve others whether on the bus, the sports’ field, or the backyard. When their father demanded more of the boys than she would have, she held her tongue and trusted God. And when the boys were falsely accused or mocked by their peers, she quietly taught them to turn the other cheek and return a blessing for a curse. She helped her boys lift their eyes to the unseen God, who sees and rewards those who seek Him.

The two boys soon became men and went into business together. They were known by all to be fair, hardworking men of integrity. These two brothers lived side by side in pleasant unity, raising families of their own to follow God and quietly spreading grace and truth to both their children and community.

The Mother of One

The third mother was very protective. The Maker had only given her one son, and she was reluctant to expose him to any risk for fear of losing him. She padded his life with private lessons, tutors, and advantages. No expense was spared. She was quick to indulge him and slow to correct him (and even slower to let her husband correct him). The boy was groomed to believe that he could be anything and deserved everything.

Once after the mother had reluctantly allowed her boy to go to camp, he came home with bright eyes and grand ideas about changing the world—possibly even as a foreign missionary, like the man who spoke at camp. But the mother quickly reminded her son of their plan for him to stay close, stay safe, and live comfortably. The boy became a man and took over his father’s business. He was known by all to be selfish, entitled, demanding, and very unhappy.

Called to Give Account

Eventually the first two mothers were rewarded with praise and honor. The Maker noted the way they had invested themselves in training their children to serve Him. He also noted the way that His kingdom had spread and multiplied because of the lives touched by the children of these two mothers. To each of them, He said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

But the third mother was not rewarded or honored by the Maker. When called to give account for her parenting, she said, “You’re the type to take credit for what you didn’t do and claim what isn’t yours. I was afraid of you. I didn’t trust you. I felt that it was up to me to keep my son safe and give him a good life.”

The Maker was angry. Had this woman forgotten that He was the One who breathed life into her son? Had she forgotten that He was the Maker? He said, “You wicked woman!” and slipped her precious son—who was never hers to keep—from her grasp.

About the Story

Did you recognize parts of this story? It’s meant to echo the Parable of the Talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14–30. Jesus’ story was about a man who gave “talents” to his servants. A talent (according to the ESV Study Bible) was a monetary unit, equivalent to twenty years’ wages for a common laborer.

As I read this story recently, it struck me that that the common labor of raising a child is accomplished in about the same time frame—twenty years. And just like the servants who were entrusted with a talent, as mothers we are entrusted with children. They don’t belong to us; they belong to their Maker. And like the servants in the story, we will give an account.

That’s pretty sobering. Somewhere between potty training and driver’s training, it’s easy to lose sight of just how significant this teaching from Jesus is. So for moms like me, who want to spend their parenting investment well, here are a few takeaways.

Lessons for Moms

  • We will give account to God for our parenting, not the other way around.
    When the third woman told the Maker, “You’re the type to take credit for what you didn’t do and claim what isn’t yours,” it sounded like an accusation. Yet we make the same subtle accusation of God when we try to parent independent of Him, or when we become offended because He is laying claim to our children’s lives. The truth is God claims our children as His own, and we are accountable to Him for our parenting investment.  
  • Fearful parenting is bad parenting.
    The third mother feared the Maker, but not in the right way. In Jesus’ parable, the servant who buried the talent rather than investing it was not rewarded. This same principle applies to parenting. God is not pleased when we are so fearfully protective that we hold our children back from serving Him and expanding His kingdom. Good parenting involves training our kids to take risks for God and spend themselves for the sake of expanding His kingdom.  
  • Misjudging God’s character has disastrous effects on our parenting.
    The third mother didn’t trust the Maker and was afraid of what might happen if she entrusted her son back to Him. Like this mother, our bad parenting is rooted in misjudging God. We think He doesn’t care about our children as much as we do. We think He doesn’t notice them or can’t protect them. Yet in contrast, godly parents know that their children belong to a God who is far more good, powerful, and trustworthy than they could ever be.

Which mother in the story are you? Are you investing well in the children God has entrusted to you? Or are you parenting out of fear and mistrust of God? What is one risk God wants you to take in this season of parenting?

About the Author

Shannon Popkin

Shannon Popkin

Shannon Popkin is happy to be sharing life with her husband, Ken, and together they have the joy of watching their three young-adult kids become the amazing people God created them to be. From the platform, page, and podcast mic, … read more …

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