6 Train children in the way they should go;
when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.
We have the Father of Methodism: John Wesley.
We have the Father of American Methodism: Francis Asbury (Yes, like Asbury Park).
But do you know who the Mother of Methodism is?
Her name was Susanna Wesley, wife of the Reverend Samuel Wesley, and the mother of 19 children – two of them being John and Charles.
Though her husband was the Church of England priest, Susanna is the one attributed with having developed the kind of faith in John and Charles to begin what would be one of the largest Christian denominations in history. She was a devoted housewife who, despite many of her children dying in infancy, was insistent on growing and maintaining the spiritual formation of each one of her children individually. She put aside time weekly with each child individually for biblical and theological education. John himself maintained this practice with her well into adulthood.
The book of Proverbs offers many quick insights like the one from today. This text is a nice, hopeful thought, but we know it isn’t always reality. Children do not always keep to the teachings of their parents, no matter how much love and work went into it. Not all of Susanna’s children were John – they were each unique beings who would take her teachings and run in different directions. What we can get from this text though, especially when we think about how hard Susanna worked not only maintaining the household but also being the Christian teacher for her children, is how important that care and nurture is, how important being a role model of what Christianity can be for the next generation.
I doubt Suanna anticipated, or even desired, for John to break off from his denominational affiliation to begin a new movement, but the seeds planted by her, even if she didn’t get to see how everything turned out, were something she had to trust that God could do great things with.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever been a part of someone else’s spiritual development? How did that affect, shape, or change or own faith? What is something you can do to plant the seeds of God’s love that can grow in others?
Prayer: Holy God, we give thanks for all the people in our lives who have been a part of our growing closer in relationship with You. May we then be that to others. Amen.