What does it mean to be a spiritual mother or daughter?
Holly: In many ways a spiritual mother is like a natural mother. When my children were little and got hurt, they needed their mom. When they were competing in sports or receiving an award at school, they wanted me there cheering for them. To this day, when I am going through something difficult, or when I have reached a goal, I want to talk to my mom. Being a spiritual mom is similar. It’s about being available to offer encouragement in good seasons, give support during the hard ones, and offer wisdom along the way.
Meghan: A spiritual mother is invested in her spiritual daughter and constantly is looking for ways to help her flourish. She believes in the unique calling and destiny of her spiritual daughter and creates opportunities for her to soar. A spiritual mother asks the hard questions and digs into the intricate details of her daughter’s life such as her marriage, family, and personal relationship with Jesus. She is not afraid to correct or challenge behaviors or thoughts that are out of line. She champions the dreams of her spiritual daughter and calls forth purpose!
A spiritual daughter looks to a mother for insight on decisions, both big and small. She demonstrates honor in all environments and guards her heart from familiarity. She is honest with her spiritual mother, always looking to learn and grow. A spiritual daughter will resemble her mother like a natural daughter does. The relationship will demonstrate “like mother, like daughter” because the spiritual daughter is influenced by her spiritual mom.
How do you become a spiritual mother or gain a spiritual mother?
Meghan: So many women I know are looking for a spiritual mother. The challenge is that this must be a divine connection; you can’t force the relationship. If you are looking for a spiritual mom, first make sure you are being one to someone else.
Second, identify a woman who is doing the things you would love to be doing. Start learning from her at a distance. Read her books, connect with her on social media, and listen to her podcasts. If you contact her and she doesn’t respond, there may not be a divine connection. If this is the case, don’t get discouraged. Keep learning, praying, and looking. Don’t take for granted the women already in your world. Your spiritual mom does not have to be someone with a big name or big reputation.
Once you make a connection, do whatever it takes to be involved in her everyday life. Honor her, serve her, and be a support to the dreams that are in her heart. As you are serving and spending time with her, you will begin to learn lessons in the unspoken moments you observe.
Don’t be needy. God is your source; a spiritual mother is not. Don’t be prideful but be willing to share what you are struggling with and listen to advice. Don’t grow familiar. She has brought you into her world, so honor her and her life like it is a precious gift.
Holly: A spiritual mother is someone willing to open her life and heart to a younger woman. Almost 30 years ago I had one of those “aha moments” when I read Titus chapter 2, which essentially says, “Older woman, your job is the younger woman.”
Regardless of how young you are, someone is always younger. It is that younger woman for whom I am to be an example, make time, and offer wisdom and encouragement. Being a spiritual mother is not that complicated! It means living a life that someone else wants to follow. It means being honest about successes and challenges.
Do you have a spiritual mother in your life?
Meghan: I have an amazing biological mom who initially championed me, pointed me towards Jesus, and supported every dream in my heart. I have had several spiritual moms during the course of my ministry: Connie Lelacheur, my youth pastor; Cheree Wright, one of my pastors; and Holly Wagner, who currently is probably the biggest influence in my life. I have pursued a relationship with every one of these women, and the connections were divine.
When Holly and I met years ago I knew I needed her voice in my life. I was determined to do whatever I could to serve her and learn from her, and over time we have developed a friendship for which I will be forever grateful!
Holly: Most of the spiritual moms in my life have mothered me from afar by their lives, their words, and their books.
Do you think it’s more difficult for women to find spiritual mothers in their life?
Meghan: I do think it’s challenging for women to develop relationships with spiritual mothers. I think many women are waiting for someone to see and reach out to them, but this responsibility is on the daughters. It takes courage to pursue a relationship with someone because you risk rejection.
I challenge you to trust Jesus with your heart and not allow fear to hold you back from pursuing a relationship with a spiritual mom. Because I have learned this lesson, I now challenge myself to take the initiative as a mother and pursue daughters. There are young women who need to know someone believes in them. I can be that person and so can you!
How would you encourage a young pastor looking for a spiritual mother? What would you tell her to do?
Holly: Consider whose life inspires you and if you are willing to learn from her. Find someone who is living a life you admire and put yourself in her world. Proximity makes it easier, but regardless, it will take time and effort on your part.
Has she written any books? Read them. Does she teach? Listen to her sermons. Does she travel? Offer to be her companion. If possible, spend time with her family and her. Ask questions. Don’t put on a mask. Be honest about where you are in your marriage and your relationship with Jesus, and share challenges you experience with your team.
Meghan: If I could encourage a young pastor looking for a spiritual mother, I would challenge her to be brave and pursue the relationship. Most of us as leaders love investing in people who are willing to ask.
Here are a few ideas to help you find and connect with a spiritual mother. First, identify a few women who inspire you. Look for a pastor in your area or ARC with whom you identify and in whom you see something you like. Contact her and ask to buy her coffee, or call her if she is in another state. Honor her time as best you can. Send a thank you card or take her out to lunch.
Then, prepare some questions before you meet for the first time. At the end of this initial conversation, ask her if she is interested in additional conversations and if she says yes, take her up on it. Call her for advice, stay connected, and discover how you can be more involved in her world. For example, attend her conference, offer to help her at work, or do something for her kids.
Don’t leverage her relationship for your personal gain but do what you can do to support her and allow God to take care of you in the process.
What else do you want to tell female pastors about the role of spiritual mentors for the next generation?
Meghan: The best thing any of us can do is be the woman we seek as a mentor. We all want someone to see us, care enough to know us, champion our dreams, and tell us that we can succeed. Don’t wallow in pity, wondering why no one has noticed you yet. Instead, be the one to pick up the phone or send the email, and let God do the rest. Be brave! And while you are looking for that mom in your life, go be the best mom you can to the young woman who is running her race a little behind you.
Holly: Being someone’s boss does not necessarily equal being her spiritual mother. It can, but a spiritual mentor provides a deeper level of commitment to the development and well-being of the younger woman. A spiritual mother is available in all seasons, honest with challenge, and generous with encouragement.
I am a spiritual mom to a few younger women. One is my natural daughter, but others are daughters either I have chosen or who have put themselves in my world to be mentored. In this season of my life, I am increasing my involvement in the lives of younger female pastors. I think the health of the future church depends on people like me who are willing to invest in, develop, and cheer on a younger generation carrying the baton of faith into a new era.
Philip and Holly Wagner are the founding and senior pastors of Oasis Church in Los Angeles, CA, and members of the ARC Lead Team. They started in 1984 with a vision to see the people of Los Angeles encounter the love and grace of God. Their dream has always been to lead a church that was like an oasis in a dry place—full of grace, love, faith, hope, and generosity. Holly is passionate about seeing women become all that God has designed them to be, which inspired her to start GodChicks and She Rises Conference, an annual gathering of thousands of women held in Los Angeles. To learn more, visit oasisla.com.
Carey and Meghan Robinson are the pastors of Movement Church in Laguna Niguel, CA (ARC church plant number 273). They are passionate about awakening people to their God-given destiny and building the local Church. Meghan’s greatest passion is helping women identify the God dream inside of them and awaken to their greater purpose! To learn more, visit theocmovement.com.