“Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6: 2-3
Throughout Black American history, the mother has played a critical leadership role in most black homes. There are many reasons for that and I don’t have time or space to get into those reasons now. Suffice it to say, our dear black mothers have had to take on that strong leadership role. It was thrust upon them. Thank God somebody did take that role, otherwise Black America would be in worse shape than what it is in now.
Let me throw in, however, that it is a new day now, and it is time for black men to rise up, to take responsibility, and to take their God-given role as the head of their households. It is time, also, for our women to let them.
Be that as it may, what kind of relationship ought you to have with your mother? What are your responsibilities and obligations to her? No matter your family situation, here are some things God commands you to do and that you ought to do out of love:
1. Respect your mother. It does not matter your family situation; it does not matter what your mother has done or what she has not done; it does not matter whether she was a good mother or the mother from hell—your responsibility is to respect her.You have to lay aside any negative emotions, forgive failures of the past, and show her respect. There is absolutely no excuse for a man to disrespect his mother.
One of the greatest lessons that you can learn in life is the principle of authority. When you fully understand the principle of authority, you will know that it doesn’t matter what type of person the one in authority is; if they are in a God-given position of authority over you—in this case your parents—you had better respect them. I do not care if your mother is the biggest drunkard or whore in town, you had better respect her because she is still your mother, and if she is from the old school, she’ll remind you of that fact. Here are some quick ways that you can show respect to your mother:
A. I am from the old school. I believe ‘Yes, Ma’am’ and ‘No, Ma’am’ are in order when addressing her.
B. Don’t talk back! No matter how old you get, son, don’t you ever talk back to your mother! You may be right in what you are saying, but don’t talk back. When Momma is talking to you—trying to tell you something, don’t talk back because black mothers still have the legal right to “knock your teeth out of your mouth.” And please don’t rare back as if you are going to hit her because you are sure in for a “butt-whipping” then. I know of grown football players who can still get their “butt” whipped by their mother. Don’t mess with Momma.
C. Never call your mother by her first name. For old school mothers that’s a sure backhand across your mouth without one word being said by her. Then she will give you the eyes—the look that says, ‘I dare you to say that again.’ Or, ‘You had better think twice before you say anything else stupid.’
D. If you think your mother’s lifestyle is out of order, just keep your mouth shut, leave her alone, and pray for her. It is not your place to correct your mother. If your mother is wrong about something in her life, she already knows what it is. She doesn’t need a child, whose diapers she has changed, to tell her she is wrong. Don’t get all upset. Leave her alone and trust God to fix whatever is wrong in her life. Besides, once a person is past forty years of age, only God can help them anyway.
2. Listen to your mother. Notice these verses from the Word of God:
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” – Proverbs 1:8
“My son, keep thy father’s commandments, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” – Proverbs 6:20
Listen to your mother. There are many valuable things that she can tell you as to how to deal with the problems of life.
After graduating from high school, I immediately left home and I have not lived under my parents’ roof since then. That was over thirty years ago. I remember one of the last things my mother said to me via a note she wrote in my senior high school scrap book. It read: “Son, roll with the punches.” So, when the punches of life started coming, I started rolling. You see, that is the law of my mother, and just remembering her words to me have helped me through many storms over the past thirty years or so.
Listen to your mother, son.
Now, after you are grown, and have left home, still respectfully listen to your mother, but make your own decisions with God’s help because you are the one who will have to live with the consequences of those decisions. Your mother may not like that idea too much, but after a while, by and by, she will understand.
3. Love your mother. Love your mother unconditionally. This means to love her in spite of her faults. Love her in spite of past misunderstandings. Love her in spite of the fact that she cursed you out in front of the entire family last Thanksgiving and said your girlfriend was not a beauty queen. Forget all of that and love her anyway.
Here are some ways that you can show that love:
a. Be a good son. Do good things with your life.
b. Don’t be a financial drain on your mother—always asking her for money. Rather, when God blesses you, you give her some money. Most black mothers don’t mind telling you that the cards and flowers are fine, but the money is better.
c. Tell her you love her. That will mean more to her than anything.
In closing this letter, let me kindly say, respect and love your mother. Listen to your mother as I have just delineated, but remember that God comes before your mother. That may be obvious, but from my role as a minister, I have learned that that needs to be said. Notice what Jesus had to say about this matter:
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37
Sad to say, many black men have almost denied God’s Word to the point where their mother’s word means more to them than God’s Word, and that is not the way it should be. At some point, friend, in a man’s life, a mother has to release her son, and a son will have to let go of his mother.That is just the way God designed for things to be. I share these simple truths because so many young black men have allowed their relationship with their mother to hinder their relationships with their wives and children; they have allowed their relationship with their mother to hurt their finances; they have allowed their relationship with their mother to affect them when they are making major decisions in life. This ought not so to be. To help us have the proper healthy relationship with our mothers, we must come to Jesus.
Jesus is the best example of how a man should relate to his mother after he is grown. Notice with me three principles that should guide us, as grown men, in relating to our mothers:
1. While Jesus was living under his parents’ authority and roof, he submitted to their authority even though He was God. This goes back to the principle of authority. Notice this verse from the Word of God:
“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” – Luke 2:49-51
2. When Jesus became grown and his mission in life was taking shape, his relationship with his mother took a marked turn. Jesus, being a man, took a more leadership position over his mother and his mother took on a more supportive and encouraging role. Now it appears as though Jesus had to lovingly say and do some things to help His dear mother see this change in their relationship; for Mary, like all mothers, struggled with seeing her “baby” slipping away from her motherly grip. Notice with me two startling statements that Jesus had to strategically make to help His dear mother understand that there was a major change taking place in their relationship, and please notice, as a side point, that these two statements were made publicly:
“While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” – Matthew 12:46-50
“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servant, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” – John 2:1-5
Now some may think that Jesus was being disrespectful. He was not. His abruptness was by divine design, to lovingly help His dear mother realize that a change was taking place in their relationship. He was no longer the little, cuddly baby in the manger. He was a grown man with an extraordinary mission to not only save mankind, but to save her as well.
Jesus was basically saying, “Mama, I thank you for raising Me, but I am grown and in charge now, and it is now My turn to not only take care of you and lead you, but to lead the world to a higher level. Mama, you did your part, now it is time for Me to do My part. Mama, I love you. Mama, I respect you. Mama, I honour you, but Mama, I don’t need to be trained any more. You have already trained Me. I don’t need to be taught any more, for you have already taught Me. What I need from you, Mama, is for you to stand to the side, and love Me and cheer Me on. I need for you to back Me; to tell me you love Me, even though you may not understand what’s going on. Mama, I can’t run this ball that God has given Me with you in front of Me. However, if I know you are in the grandstand pulling for Me and loving Me and supporting Me, then I can save—not only you, but the entire world.”
Now, brother, your dear mother is not going to care for this change too much because it is hard for a mother to carry a baby for nine months and watch him grow from an infant into a man and then see him become so independent; but the change in the relationship must take place. The proverbial “apron strings” must be cut and the only way to cut anything is abruptly.
If a mother has raised her son right, and the son handles the “apron cutting” ceremony right, then it is really a beautiful thing to behold in life when the big, ol’, husky son who was once a seven pound baby becomes the leader, protector, provider, and, if you will, saviour of the mother. It is one of those beautiful pictures in life that God gives us.
3. The last thing that Jesus did was to take care of his mother. Even though a son ought to always respect and love his mother no matter what his age, the relationship must change. The relationship changes in such a way that it is almost like a reversal in the mother/son role. That is okay. as long as we respect and love our mothers. Notice this touching verse from St. John:
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” – John 19: 26-27
Young black man, while Jesus was suffering on the cross, while He was about to die, while He was in the most excruciating pain, He made the extra effort to make sure that His mother would be taken care of after He was gone.
It is your responsibility and obligation to make sure your mother is cared for after her productive years are over.
Show respect and love to your mother, and don’t be afraid to cut the “apron strings” when it is time to do so. God expects you to do all of that.
Loving My Mother,
The greatest lessons I ever learned were on my mother’s knees. – Abraham Lincoln
The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children. – Elain Heffner
History shows almost all the greatest workers for God had godly mothers. – Selected
This chapter is an excerpt from my book, Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men: More Advice & Encouragement for a Difficult Journey. Click here to find out more or to purchase the book online.