A Mother’s Selflessness

One of the greatest traits of good mothers is their selflessness. This is even demonstrated in the animal kingdom. What can we learn from the examples of our mothers?

Anyone who has spent much time around wild animals knows that a mother with young can be very dangerous. Growing up on the farm taught me that an otherwise docile cow can instinctively turn into 900 pounds of rage to protect her calf from danger.

Every experienced wilderness hiker knows you never, ever get between a mother bear and her cubs! Likewise, a game warden in Wyoming once told me that the animal he fears most is a female moose—especially if she has a calf nearby.

Shelter from the fire

A few years ago, a wildfire raged through a rural area with several farmsteads. Firefighters were called in to help bring the blaze under control and salvage what they could of the houses and farm outbuildings.

After the fire was extinguished, several firefighters spread out to walk back through, identifying any areas that might need more attention. In the process, one firefighter came across an unusual-looking lump near the ashen remains of what must have been a small chicken coop. As he got closer, he noticed it was the charred body of an adult hen. Since most of the chickens in this area were free-range, they were left with wings unclipped, meaning they were able to fly. Why didn’t this one flee as the fire approached?

When he poked her with the toe of his boot, four tiny chicks scurried out from underneath. At that point it became clear—while this mother had the ability to save herself, her chicks did not. Instead of flying away, she hunkered down to shield them with her own body, instinctively protecting as many of her brood as would stay under her wings.

A mother’s selflessness

This story also illustrates a trait of character that comes naturally to most human mothers as well—stepping in without hesitation to selflessly serve and sacrifice for their children and family. No matter what it takes, a mother will often willingly give all she has to provide for her children the best she can. It is right and proper that we recognize and honor the sacrifice of mothers!

No matter what it takes, a mother will often willingly give all she has to provide for her children the best she can.This trait of selfless love is one God the Father and Jesus Christ both demonstrate toward us. The story above illustrates the statement Jesus made in Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Not long after He said this, He demonstrated His selfless love by willingly laying down His life for all mankind. We should all grow in expressing selfless love in our lives.

This, of course, is not a trait that only mothers should have. God desires that all of His children have the selfless attitude of being willing to sacrifice for one another: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

How can we lay down our lives?

One of the most precious commodities we have is time. We can watch a mother lay down her life by taking her time to love, nurture and care for her children and family. She does so by teaching a little one how to do a task, even when that process takes twice as long as it would if she just did it herself. She does so when she patiently kisses away the tears that come simply from the process of growing and learning. Or she passes up doing or having something she really desires in order to do or give something special to her family. Other times it is the sacrifice of sleep—getting up with a fussy baby or nursing a sick child at 3 a.m. But she does so willingly and with love.

All of us—mothers, fathers, grandparents, children or siblings—would do well to think about the attributes of selfless love and consider how often they are a part of our own lives.

Mother’s Day in the United States is set aside as a day to honor mothers. As we do, let’s remember the tireless work and selfless sacrifice of all the mothers in our lives. And let’s not just remember, but learn from them!

Happy Mother’s Day!

For more insight about mothers, read our past blog post “A World Without Mothers.”

About the Author

Tom Clark

Tom Clark

Tom Clark married his lovely wife, Mary, in 1985. They have three grown children and four grandchildren. Tom was ordained a minister in 1989 and has served congregations in Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota. He currently pastors the Bentonville, Van Buren and Mena, Arkansas, congregations of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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