Proverbs 31 is typically the go-to chapter on the righteous wife and mother, but as I turn a few chapters past Proverbs to Nehemiah, I find a story with the power to redefine motherhood.
Nehemiah was a trusted official under the Persian King Artaxerxes. He was also an Israelite who grieved the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah asked the king to allow him to gather the people of Israel to rebuild the wall. The King agreed, and the building began. When the enemies of Israel pushed back against the project, look at how the Israelites defended themselves:
“I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’
“When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.” (Neh. 4:13 –15, emphasis mine)
Instead of mounting an army of men, Nehemiah urged the people to fight by families. Husbands and wives stood shoulder-to-shoulder, gathered their children around them, and prepared to fight for what mattered. Could they have been victorious any other way? I don’t think so. It was because they were fighting for their families that they were brave enough to stare down their enemies. And it was because they were fighting with their families that they were strong enough to win.
“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” (6:15-16)
Because the people of Israel fought with their families and for their families, they completed a mighty task that put God’s glory on display. Their story is a reminder of the battle we are in and the kingdom we are called to build. These moms encourage us to ask, “What if parenting isn’t just about raising good kids, but about winning a war? What if you aren’t just building a family, but you’re building a kingdom?”
The builders of the wall join all the other moms of the Bible in pushing us to think beyond the daily chores of mothering. In unison, they remind us that there is much more at stake than what we can see clearly in the daily grind of our role. Their stories remind us of the heroes of faith who are commended in Hebrews 11. The entire chapter is dedicated to applauding the people of the Bible who served God faithfully even when their circumstances were difficult and the outcome was not clearly visible. That chapter wraps with these words,
“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:39–40)
They didn’t get to see the fruits of their labor, and yet they pressed on. They left a legacy of faith even when it didn’t give an immediate payoff. Why? Check out the encouragement we find in the verses that follow:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2)
Listen up, moms . . . You are not just raising kids; you are living out your faith. You’re not just mothering, you are running a race in the sight of many witnesses. You are not put on an unclear path, you are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who endured more hardship than you ever will so that you and your children can join Him in heaven where He sits at the right hand of God.
The families in the book of Nehemiah knew they weren’t just building a wall:
“And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” (Neh. 6:16)
You’re not just building a family; you are building your part of the kingdom. Doing so has the power to strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of God and put His power and glory on full display.
These moms in Nehemiah—and all the moms of the Bible before them—weren’t measuring their success by one moment, one day, or one feeling. I think they understood, better than we do, that what they were doing had eternal significance.
Lean in, mom. Listen closely to what the mothers of the Bible are singing over you. Let their voices echo through the Hall of Faith and bounce off of the walls of Jerusalem. They’re saying the words you need to hear if you’re going to grasp God’s plan for your mothering. They are the teachers of the most important lesson you will ever learn about you and your kids.
It’s about legacy.
You’re impacting God’s kingdom.
How have you seen your efforts as a mom impact God’s Kingdom?
Note: This post is an excerpt from my latest book, Beyond Bath Time.