Over the years, I’ve been collecting principles or maxims from the biographies of pastors, missionaries, and other Christian leaders. Some students have also contributed to my collection via various assignments and internships. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve gathered about the role of parents in preparing men for ministry, with the bold sentences being the major takeaways.
Every man is to a great extent the product of his inheritance. The most formative influence on each of us has been our parentage and our home. Hence good biographies never begin with their subject but with his parents and probably his grandparents as well. (Dudley-Smith, John Stott)
C. H. Spurgeon
Wherever she (C.H. Spurgeon’s mother) has resided, she has been known and esteemed for her sincere piety, Christian humility, and various works of usefulness in connection with the cause of the Redeemer. The prayerful solicitude and earnest care with which she trained up her children have been abundantly rewarded. Speaking one day to her son Charles of her solicitude for the best interests of all her children, she said, “Ah, Charlie, I have often prayed that you might be saved, but never that you should become a Baptist.” To this Charles replied, “The Lord has answered your prayer with his usual bounty, and given you more than you asked.” (Shindler, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 19-20)
The significant accomplishments of John A. Broadus can in many ways be traced to the marvelous model and paternal love and wisdom provided by his father. The presence of social, political, and religious leaders in the Broadus home greatly influenced John. Major Broadus had offered much support to Thomas Jefferson in the development of the University of Virginia, with which his famous son was to be so long and intimately associated. Broadus’s mother was a woman of godly character and a competence that admirably prepared her to be the wife of her notable husband and the mother of her remarkable children. (Dockery, John A. Broadus, 14)
It is the earliest reminiscence of the boy (Thomas Boston) that he was taken into prison with the father to relieve his loneliness. The experience left a deep mark on the child’s memory, and he often rejoiced, in his mature years, that he had thus been honored to have fellowship with his father in his sufferings. (Thomson, Thomas Boston, 22)
How much my father’s prayers at this time impressed me I can never explain, nor could any stranger understand. When, on his knees and all of us kneeling around him in Family Worship, he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the Heathen World to the service of Jesus, and for every personal and domestic need, we all felt as if in the presence of the living Saviour, and learned to know and love Him as our Divine Friend. As we rose from our knees, I used to look at the light on my father’s face, and wish I were like him in spirit, hoping that, in answer to his prayers, I might be privileged and prepared to carry the blessed Gospel to some portion of the Heathen World. (Paton, Missionary to New Hebrides, 21)
“Her [Bavinck's mother Gesina] uncompromising ways when it came to Scripture became a characteristic that her son, Herman, learned very well from his mother. In short, Gesina was a spiritual asset to the entire Bavinck family.” (Gleason, Herman Bavinck, 17)
Arthur Machen’s tastes and interests, rooted in the classical tradition of the Old South, were decisive in defining his son’s interests. He read the works of Horace, Thucydides, and Caesar with pleasure and found personal inspiration in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and the Greek New Testament… [This] nourished the hallmark of the legal mind, precise and logically consistent reasoning – a trait on which Arthur’s sons would later rely whether opposing Prohibition in Maryland politics or theological liberalism in the Presbyterian Church. (Hart, J. Gresham Machen, 12)
*Inclusion of a biography/leader does not mean endorsement of every aspect of their character, conduct, or teaching.
Why not think about how God has used your parents or grandparents to prepare you for your calling in life and thank God and them for it.