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Mothers Shape Future Men

If you look at the beginning of Proverbs 31, you might find a surprise. The chapter includes not simply the famous portrait of an excellent wife but also the teaching and influence of a godly mother on her son.

Randy Alcorn | Abigail Dodds | Tim Challies | Stephen Phinney


Note from Stephen: As many of our readers know, 2023 is dedicated to empowering men and women to exemplify the Biblical roles stated in the Holy Word. Recently I was introduced to Tim Challies, and his profound work regarding this topic. Here is what Tim has to say.

Women shaped the men who changed the world.

  • History tells of women whose love for the Bible shaped its earliest and most prominent teachers.

  • It tells of women who were great theologians in their own right, yet whose only students were their own children.

  • It tells, time and time again, of Christian men who owe so much to their godly mothers.

Raising children to honor and glorify the Lord is the goal of every Christian mother, but how can you do that? Who can teach you? One of the best ways to learn is to read examples of women who have succeeded at the very task you are attempting.

Come take a brief look at some of them. Book link below.

  • We will look to the church’s earliest days to find a man who owed his salvation to the careful biblical instruction he received on the lap of his mother.

  • We will zoom forward a few centuries to a woman whose constant prayers were at last rewarded when her son came to faith and went on to become one of history’s most influential theologians.

  • We will advance to recent centuries to see how the prayers, teaching, and examples of godly mothers have shaped evangelists, preachers, and stalwart defenders of the faith.

  • We will learn together of Christian men and their godly moms, mothers who were used to shape the men who changed the world.

—Tim Challies


Note from Randy: I think this article by Abigail Dodds, is wonderful. Having raised two daughters, I’m deeply grateful for our sons-in-law, and their families who raised them to be men of character and faith. And now Angela and Karina are the moms of our five grandsons, who they are raising to know and love Jesus. (Note: I say “our” instead of “my” not out of habit or nostalgia, but simply because my Nanci, though she has relocated to another place, is more alive than ever before.)

Whether you’re a mom to young boys or not, I think you’ll find what Abigail shares helpful and insightful.



Abigail Dodds

If you look at the beginning of Proverbs 31, you might find a surprise. The chapter includes not simply the famous portrait of an excellent wife but also the teaching and influence of a godly mother on her son. Proverbs 31 begins with the recitation of a king. And what is he reciting? He’s reciting “an oracle that his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1).

What are you doing, my son?

What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (Proverbs 31:2–5)

Verse 10 begins the more famous portion of Proverbs 31, but it’s worth noting that King Lemuel is continuing to recite his mother’s teaching.

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (Proverbs 31:10–11)

If our sons were asked about the most common teaching of their moms, what might their answers be? What sort of teaching characterizes our commands?

What Does Mom Say Most?

Our most common commands might be mainly safety-oriented: “Always wash your hands before you eat.” “Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.” “Don’t forget your bike helmet or seatbelt.” Those are not necessarily bad commands. But if they are the primary teaching of a mother to a son, they will not keep a son safe, but handicap him.

Perhaps your teaching is mainly practical: “Be sure to clean your room and make your bed every day.” “Finish all the food on your plate.” “Always be on time.” “Waste not, want not.” These are not bad commands; often they’re good and helpful. Yet, if those commands are left to themselves, without a foundation of weightier instruction, they will provide only earthly help without eternal benefit.

King Lemuel’s mother taught him two very important lessons: (1) how to avoid temptation so he could rule as king, and (2) how to find and value an excellent wife. In other words, his mother taught him how to be a man. And sons today still need mothers who can help teach them how to be wise, just, loving, good men, if not quite kings.

Our sons need to learn how to be heads of a household — perhaps also leaders of businesses, churches, or governments — and men who know what to look for in a wife. That means they need moms who can instruct them in how to judge between right and wrong, true and false, good and best. And between an excellent wife and an evil woman — because evil women actually exist, and our sons need to avoid them.

Mothers instruct their sons in the importance of being a son, a boy, a man. Mothers help sons know what clothes are fitting for a boy versus a girl. They help them know what manners and mannerisms are appropriate for a young man. While our sons are young, and especially during the teenage years, mothers should keep an eye out to help their s