Yesterday, I proposed that pastoral training begins in the womb. Today, I’d like to suggest that one of the best seminary classes a pastor or trainee pastor could attend is to spend time with a nursing mother.

“Oh, no! Here’s another extreme and unbiblical idea from Murray.”

No, actually, I got it from the Apostle Paul.

Paul says to the Thessalonians that he was “gentle among [them], just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7).


So, visit the nursery, men; bring a notepad, open your eyes, and listen to how a nursing mother taught Paul how to pastor:

“First of all, Paul, this is how to gently nurse your congregation (v. 7). Watch me as I wake my children, how I clean them, clothe them, feed them, protect them, hug them, welcome them, etc. All very loving and gentle, isn’t it!”

“And, Paul, make sure your congregation knows that you long to be with them and enjoy being with them (v. 8). Cherish them like I cherish my baby. I’m sure you know that ‘to cherish’ means ‘to warm and be warmed.’ You can’t do that without being with them, and being close to them.”

“And remember that although I take care of my children’s physical needs, I put their spiritual needs first and look for every opportunity to share the Gospel with them (v. 8).”

“Paul, I love my children so much that I’m actually willing to sacrifice more than my time, talents, and health for them. I’m willing to sacrifice my life for them (v. 8). Do your congregations get a sense of that from you? I’m sure they do.”

“And as for working hours, I labor night and day (v. 9). Remember your own mother’s example, Paul, and let that memory mentor you through the long and often thankless hours of pastoral labor.”

“You’ll learn a lot about about mothering from pastoring. But you’ll also learn more about pastoring from watching mothering than from any Seminary Class.”

“In fact if you ever start a Seminary, Paul, maybe you should build a nursery at its center.”

  • Jonathan Pearson

    Thank you for the wonderful thoughts. You have taken some beautiful (watching my wife with our children) and made it even more special.

  • LD

    A wonderful message, but I would add an admonition as well: nursing women should be encouraged to be with their husbands and families during the worship services. It seems like women who nurse can be vilified and alienated for wanting to nurse in church (or directed to “nursing rooms” to be segregated.) Breastfeeding is the single best thing for a baby, but simply because of this a woman shouldn’t feel denigrated to sit in the back room of a church.

    • Melody

      I couldn’t agree more! I freely nursed in public with no shame until we changed churches and had to nurse my son in a stairwell because I could “cause men to stumble” if I nursed anywhere they might be (even the nursery).
      My husband thought it was a ridiculous policy and thought there could be nothing better for a young men to witness – that breasts have a practical, God-given function that is non-sexual – and that that enlightenment would help them overcome lust.

  • Tiffany

    Nursing is an issue very close to my heart. My family left a church that had wonderful preaching because there were murmurings about infants in the worhsip service and because I was asked to leave the nursery because I was nursing.

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