Today, Mary Mohler answers questions on being a mom.
Can you tell us about your children? What are their names and how old are they? What is your favorite part about being a mother?
Katie is eighteen years old and is a freshman at Union University. Christopher is fifteen years old and is a freshman in high school. I have always had a strong maternal instinct. The years that we spent waiting for children intensified that instinct even more. I love being a mother! My children are such a blessing to me. Al and I thank God every day for the privilege of being their parents. Their time in our home has gone by so quickly. I have so many treasured memories of every stage. I faithfully kept a journal when they were preschoolers and love to reread some of the amazing things that they used to say and do. One fabulous aspect of motherhood is how my children genuinely love me and need me on a daily basis. It has been a joy to watch them grow up and develop their own personalities. We are trying to get used to having Katie away at college but it’s just not the same without her at home every day.
The pivotal moments when each one of them made a profession of faith in Christ and were baptized were beyond compare. I pray that the Lord will continue to guide their every move as they seek after Him daily. I echo the words of John in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. “
Recently, you wrote a wonderful article in the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood entitled “Motherhood Matters” where you have some very encouraging and practical thoughts to share with mothers. You start out by saying, “I truly cannot remember a time when I didn’t dream of becoming a mother.” Does this mean that you always embraced complementarian values as taught in Scripture? Has there ever been a time when you questioned the importance of your role as a wife and mother and if so, how did God’s Word address your questions?
I was raised by parents who modeled Christian marriage and parenthood. My mom stayed home with us even though she could have earned a substantial wage working outside the home. I appreciated that then, as much as I understood it, and I appreciate it even more now.
My support of complementarian values has really been a natural result of my Christian walk. Scripture clearly and plainly supports my understanding of the importance of my role as a woman. I have never doubted that God loves and values me every bit as much as he does men. I am happy that He has created me with the desire to be a wife who fully supports the leadership of my husband and thrives in my role as a stay at home mom. If I had a divided heart on these matters, I would be miserable. I am thankful that the more I read about the feminist agenda, the more adamant I am about biblical femininity. That cannot be said for all women but I give God the glory for protecting me from believing lies.
What do you think is one of the greatest needs among mothers today and how would you encourage them?
As I said in the “Motherhood Matters” article that you kindly referenced above, I think moms need to stop apologizing for doing a full time job full time! I am not going to state that all moms must be stay at home moms but for those who are, they must stop feeling inferior for their decision. I am tired of the mentality that is becoming more and more prevalent that says women who stay at home raising their children are wasting themselves even as they serve to drag down the economy. That’s a lie. Women who are home raising their children should do so with gusto and no regrets. No one can love your children like you can. God made you to be their mother and no one else. Learn everything you can about how to be the best mom you can be by God’s grace. Hold your head high when you state that you are a mom—not “just a mom” but a mom full time. Love your job because the days are fleeting. Those precious little ones will be grown up sooner than you think. Motherhood is a high calling now just as it has always been. Those who think otherwise are deceiving themselves.
You are also well-known in the evangelical community for your teaching on modesty. Why do you think this is such an important topic? How did you help your daughter develop biblical convictions about modesty?
I have been most surprised by how God has allowed my voice to be heard on the subject of modesty. My zeal for this area of Christian womanhood can be traced to a gradual uneasiness about what I was seeing in society that led to a full fledged frustration by what eventually crept into Christian circles and later prevailed with a vengeance. I could only wonder with great disbelief as I saw Christian parents who share strong convictions about the things of the Lord simply abdicate any authority when it came to what their daughters were allowed to wear. What was an understandably common issue in a secular society with no accountability to God and a driving desire to make a splash runs completely contrary to a Christian worldview. Why then is immodesty so prevalent among believers, I had to ask? It was heartening to realize that as I began to write and speak about the problem that many women stepped up and agreed that this is a huge problem. It was discouraging, however, to have others question why one would “bother” to deal with modesty when there are so many other pressing issues in the twenty-first century.
My conclusion led me to believe that accidental immodesty is rampant among believers. We don’t set out to look like the world but for any number of reasons ranging from a love of fashion to simply being clueless, we allow ourselves to stoop to the careless level of the world and thus cause our brothers to stumble by flaunting them with visual stimulation in church or wherever we happen to be!
I am pleased to say that since Katie has heard this topic discussed at home since she was a very young girl, it has never been an issue of contention for us. I used to feign disgust and force myself from breaking into a grin when as a preteen she would hold up a blatantly immodest garment at a store and declare, “Mom, look at this! I can’t believe that girls would wear this out of the dressing room.” I wanted to smile at my delight in not being forced to teach her the hard way what she had wisely concluded on her own. Katie is now on her own as a college freshman. She is a beautiful young woman on the inside as well as the outside. Friends have teased Al for a decade that he needed to have a big stick ready for whomever came calling to date her. I can honestly say that we do not worry about her seizing her newly found freedom away from home to abandon modesty. Katie has strong convictions about presenting herself in such a way that she will honor her Lord. She sets an example for those who openly choose to do otherwise and has not succumbed to the very real peer pressure that exists to cross the line. I cannot express how thankful Al and I are that our daughter pleases us in this way even as she seeks to present herself in a very feminine manner. She is truly a girly girl who has always liked skirts, dresses and heels and there’s not a thing wrong with that.
Today we are pleased to continue our interview with Mary Mohler:
What are some of the challenges you face as the wife of a man with many responsibilities? How would you counsel other women in a similar situation—whether pastors’ wives or those married to men with demanding jobs?
The challenges are certainly there but one must always keep them in perspective. There are always trade-offs! The challenge that I would like to address in particular is how to balance home life in the midst of a demanding schedule.
Remind your kids that, yes, Dad is away from home a great deal but he is doing the Lord’s work. From an early age, they need to understand, for example, that Daddy will be home soon but he is telling people about Jesus at someone else’s church today as we are sharing him with them. There should be a big celebration when he comes home. It’s true that the ministry is a 24/7 job in so many ways. Tragedies sometimes happen to members of the seminary community even when we are supposed to finally be on vacation. Yet we must be diligent to turn our attention to those who are grieving and ensure that our children feel compassion as well so that no bitterness springs up.
I have always guarded our family calendar like a bulldog! I am a planner so I like to get the big picture in writing and anticipate coming events with joy. It has always been important for our kids to know that Dad may be gone all week this week, but next week, we have a, b, and c to look forward to, such as favorite meal night. I schedule a favorite meal night for each of us during the course of the year. It’s a simple way to build anticipation for family time around the table. We also plan special evenings each summer when I spend time alone with one of the kids on the same night that Al spends time alone with the other one. We are all much more likely to enjoy the time we spend together as a family when we realize that it has been a long semester full of many events and trips but now it’s worth it all because we can just have fun.
I also recommend limiting children’s extracurricular activities. We try to have dinner together every night that it is possible. I fear that too many families just pass in the night and are involved in so many sports, lessons and even church activities that they simply don’t connect in a meaningful way daily. Children thrive on a schedule. Especially in the midst of their dad’s high profile position, it has been vital for my children to know that we strive to maintain a sense of normalcy as a family. We stress how thankful to God we are for establishing our family and how thankful we are for each other. We are eager to spend time together every day—and have lots of fun in the process.
There are other challenges too, of course, that your readers would voice. There is the issue to friendships within the church or ministry; the common struggle of loneliness felt by many and for some, the desire to shun the spotlight even though your husband is in it all of the time. These concerns must be dealt with and not buried to prevent what we have sadly seen in too many cases. How many ministries have been damaged or even destroyed because the ministry wife was so unhappy, discontent or bitter that her husband was forced to resign? Please don’t let that happen to you. Satan would love nothing better than to use issues like these to drive a wedge through your marriage and then your ministry. Be on alert for warning signs. Stay connected to the Lord through prayer and the consistent study of His Word. Seek godly counsel through a mentor. Praise God for the results.
What are your responsibilities as Director of Seminary Wives Institute and what do you enjoy most about your interaction with these wives of potential pastors?
I love my work with SWI. I handle the administrative duties related to scheduling, budgets, curriculum and all of the paperwork that goes along with running a certificate program for about 250 students. I also teach and grade about five different courses each academic year. I must be careful that I do not let it become a full time job because my passion for it is so strong. If you would have told me that I would establish and direct such a program, I would have not believed it at all as I had no clear direction from the Lord about this when we first came back to Southern. However, as God brought change to our campus, the need was clearly evident for preparation for the women who would serve alongside their husbands in ministry. Seminary Wives Institute was warmly welcomed and recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. I could write volumes about how it has changed me as it has changed all who participate. I must always point out that I have the most wonderful team of faculty wives who teach with me on a volunteer basis because they too love student wives. This program would fold without the godly and selfless input of our stellar faculty. Our students are so grateful for the opportunity they have to study with us and with seminary faculty as well for such a nominal fee. God has taken this program beyond what I ever dared to dream it could be. It has become a recruiting draw for us as well. I love to see the lights come on as our students learn the truth of God’s word applied to their calling as ministry wives.
Once again, we welcome Mary Mohler for part one of a four part interview.
Starting from the very beginning: where did you grow up and how would you describe your family and childhood years?
I grew up in suburban Detroit, Michigan in an idyllic area called Bloomfield Hills. I was born to godly parents who had waited a long time to be given the gift of children. They loved my brother and me profoundly and raised us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They gave us a rich and rewarding childhood. My father was a deacon at Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church and we were basically there every time the doors were open. It was there that we made many wonderful friendships and were taught so many truths about the Lord that stay with me to this day. My mom stayed at home with us, for which I am so grateful, while my dad worked as an architect and engineer. We started vacationing in South Florida during my early teenage years. My dad had a chance to take early retirement so we relocated to Pompano Beach, Florida when I was in middle school. I was privileged to graduate from Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, the school affiliated with Dr. D. James Kennedy and Coral Ridge Ministries. From there, I made the long seven hundred mile journey away from my loving home to attend Samford University in Birmingham, AL.
We would love to hear your conversion story—when and how did God reveal Jesus Christ to you?
What a blessing it was to be born into a family that held the precious truths of God’s word as the bedrock of life. I have never known a time in my life when I did not have the Lord’s hand upon me. I was prayed for before I was ever born and taught the wonders of God’s love before I could even express myself. After a week long Vacation Bible School meeting at our church in June of 1968, I felt compelled to respond to the invitation given by our pastor. I did not tell my parents that I was going to do this for fear of them telling me that I was not ready. In an unusually bold move for a very shy and compliant child, I clearly remember bolting down the aisle on the first note of the invitation because I was a sinner in need of a Savior and in my heart; I knew that He was calling me to Himself. I still get chills when I reflect on how good God is to have saved me as a child—before I had a chance to taste of worldly ways. I didn’t have to be a theologian to understand what was happening either. The gospel is so clear and plain! Our pastor welcomed me gladly and as I was being counseled by a Sunday School teacher, I suddenly noticed that about ten other children had come forward after I had done so. For a church with under 200 members, this was a revival. I later appeared before the board of deacons in what was the most harrowing moment of my life up until that point. My beaming father was seated in the circle among the deacons. I simply told them my story and was later baptized along with my brother.
Many testimonies contain black and white stories with twists, turns and great drama as in the case of the runaway teenage drug addict who is down and out in the gutter when God calls her out and turns her life around. Those of us who seem to have no drama to share might be tempted to feel that our stories are boring and uneventful. On the contrary! My story is about a young girl who was a shy, prudish little girl by the world’s standards and not considered to be guilty of anything major. The truth is that I was a sinner just as lost and unable to save myself as the worst criminal. How thankful I am that Jesus Christ saved me before I ever had to be taken through harrowing times and that my life has been blessing upon blessing ever since.
Mary, can you tell us how long you and Al have been married? How did you two meet?
We just celebrated our 24th anniversary this summer and are looking forward to our Silver Anniversary next year. Our families were members of First Baptist Church of Pompano Beach during our high school years but it was a large church and we didn’t know each other at all. My brother went to Samford University one year before I did and ended up meeting Al there as they recognized each other from church. They became roommates during my freshman year. Almost immediately, I started dating my brother’s roommate! Al graduated and headed north to Southern Seminary to start his master’s degree but I had three years of college left to complete. We had a long distance relationship up and down Interstate 65 for three years. We married just weeks after I graduated from Samford and he graduated from Southern. We began married life as he entered the PhD program while holding a rural church pastorate.
We know Al Mohler as the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, radio host, and author. Was Al always interested in Christian ministry or is his vocation somewhat of a surprise to both of you?
I guess I should start by saying what I have said elsewhere—-it’s interesting to be married to the most intelligent person that I have ever met. This is why CJ Mahaney and I have such a bond about discussing sports with Al. It is one topic on a very short list of things of which I can talk circles around him. He has no interest in sports whatsoever since he “can’t affect the outcome.” His insatiable intellectual curiosity on most everything else was apparently evident at an early age. He basically skipped the first two years of college by way of advanced placement and started his collegiate career as a political science major at a local state university. I think he was interested in politics, law and probably at least several other majors. The Lord called him into ministry during that year and everything changed. He transferred to Samford and that’s where I came on the scene. So, to answer the question, I have known since my first conversation with him that God was calling him into the ministry. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still have a strong interest in so many different areas, of course. However, sports are a lost cause so CJ and I have given up on that.
Did your background prepare you for your role as the wife of a seminary president? If so, how?
Since I majored in biology, minored in chemistry and considered a career in health sciences, the obvious answer is no! However, God used my years as a college student to teach me many things. I gained confidence in academics as I successfully competed with very bright pre-med majors. As the Lord made it clear that Al and I were to be together, I remained focused on my goal of a strong finish to my university career even as I was resolute in concentrating on the next step that God had for me in marriage. Al and I were always united on the plan that should the Lord bless us with children, as we intently prayed He would, I would be home with them full time. If that meant we had to make sacrifices, it would happen because we both believe that no one can care for our children like I can. All that to say, a major part of my role as a seminary president’s wife is to make sure that our home life is such that Al can do his job without dealing with chaos at home. I believe that Al is able to do the job that he does so well in part because I am at home and always have been. That’s true for any wife but with the added responsibilities that we face, it’s crucial. As for the “life in a fishbowl” aspects and the many events that we host in our home, we deal with those as they come and are happy to have had so many opportunities to meet such wonderful Christians. It is much easier to deal with now that our children are older but they will have many wonderful memories of the early events as well.
For our third girl-to-girl talk interview, we are delighted to welcome Mary Mohler. Mary is the wife of Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the mother of their two children. She is also serves as the Director of Seminary Wives Institute at Southern Seminary. Mary, as you know, we here at girltalk are big fans of your husband’s ministry, and we are also big fans of you!—and so it is a real privilege for us to have this opportunity to introduce you to our readers.
You probably know me as: Al’s wife.
I’ve been married for: 24 years
My children are: Katie, 18, a freshman at Union University; Christopher, 15, a freshman in high school
I was born in: Detroit, Michigan.
The best “spiritual” book I’ve ever read (besides the Bible) is: It’s really hard to choose a superlative here but one of the best would be Fearlessly Feminine by Jani Ortlund.
Right now I am reading: several excellent books about anxiety for a presentation I am preparing on that topic: Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur; Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick; Damsels in Distress by Martha Peace; Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow.
The movie I’ve watched more times than any other: What About Bob?
The music you’re most likely to find me listening to: choral anthems or upbeat Christian music
My favorite food: bread, especially yeast rolls
In the morning I drink: skim milk but switch to Diet Coke at midday
If I have free time, you’ll most likely find me: checking favorite websites or shopping
My favorite place in the world: any quiet place with my family
A Bible verse I return to often: Habakkuk 3:18-19—“yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”
Woman I most want to be like: The Proverbs 31 Woman because she was a godly woman who achieved balance.
Nancy, we’ve come to the final day of our interview and I want to ask you about another major aspect of the work to which God has called you: writing. You’ve written numerous books—too many to list here. What do you most enjoy about writing? What do you least enjoy? Are you currently working on another book and how can we pray for you?
The Lord always uses the writing process to search my own heart and to sanctify me in deeper ways. However, to be honest, the only thing I really enjoy about the process of writing books is turning the final manuscript over to the publisher! For me, writing is an arduous, painstaking discipline that constantly requires me to say “no” to my flesh.
Dannah Gresh and I are co-authoring a book this year called Lies Young Women Believe. Our burden is to reach the hearts of 13-19-year-old girls with the truth that will set them free.
I am also in the initial stages of a new book on “gratitude,” which I hope to follow with a book on “contentment”—both of which are crucial qualities for Christian women to cultivate and are in rare supply today.
Recently I have sensed the Lord birthing in me another new book that I have been thinking about for nearly ten years—a call to Christian women to believe God for a counter-Revolution—a movement of biblical womanhood that will take back the ground that has been given over to feminist thinking over the past 50 years.
Are there any other major projects on your calendar for the coming year?
We have just finalized the decision to host a National Women’s Conference on October 9-11, 2008, in Chicago. FamilyLife Today and Moody Bible Institute will be partnering with Revive Our Hearts on this project. The purpose of the conference is to promote the mission and message of biblical womanhood. We are asking the Lord for 4-6000 women to join us for this special event. This is a huge faith venture for our small team. Please pray with us for the anointing of the Spirit on this undertaking and for God’s provision and enabling on every front. And pray about joining us for what I believe could be an historic occasion!
We are excited to hear about this conference and your upcoming books, Nancy, and we will be praying or you. On a different note, we’d love to know what you are studying in your personal times with the Lord. What is one aspect of God’s character you’ve learned about this past year?
For more than a year, I’ve been studying (and am now teaching) the life of Joshua. I was drawn into the study because my pastor preached a message from the last chapter of Joshua, which made me wonder how in the world he made it to 110 years of age, and was still a vibrant, faithful servant and lover of the Lord. (At that time, I was walking through some deep waters and wasn’t sure I was going to make it to 50!) I wanted to see how he stayed faithful all the way to the finish line, which is my goal.
It has been a wonderful study. When I got to Kadesh-Barnea with Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 13-14), the Lord opened my eyes to see the unbelief and rebellion that were at the heart of many of the struggles I had been having for months.
Finally, what in your opinion, is the most urgent need among Evangelical Christian women today?
To know Christ—really know Him; to trust Him enough to obey Him; to love and enjoy Him—“Christ in you, the hope of glory”; to “own” the Gospel in its incredible, life-giving, transforming fullness and implications; to be willing to lay down our lives for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.
Amen to that, Nancy. Thank you for your example of passion for Christ and the gospel. And thank you for allowing us to get to know you a little better over the past four days. We pray God will continue to bless your ministry and efforts to encourage women to greater love for our Savior!
Girltalk readers: more information on how to pray for Nancy and her ministry is available in an interview on the Revive Our Hearts website.
Today I want to turn to a topic that is close to both our hearts—biblical womanhood.
Nancy, you have strong convictions about the importance of biblical womanhood. Was this always the case? Why do you think this is such an urgent topic today?
Theologically, I always had strong convictions, because I believe the Scripture is so plain on this subject. However, on a personal and emotional level, that was not always easy for me to embrace. As a young woman, I so wanted to be used by the Lord to proclaim His Word, and felt deep down that if I had been a man, perhaps I could have done that more freely.
The Lord graciously began to help me understand more of His calling and purpose for women and the ways I could distinctively reflect His glory as a woman.
As a single woman, what do you think is most important for single women to understand about biblical womanhood?
Regardless of our marital status, we were made to glorify God and to reflect Him to our world.
God has made women to be bearers and nurturers of life—we can do that whether or not He chooses to give us husbands and physical children.
If a woman has a contented, grateful heart, she will experience joy, regardless of her circumstances (or marital status). If she does not have a contented, grateful heart, there is no circumstance (or marital status) that can make her happy.
How do you personally cultivate feminine qualities commanded in Scripture in your unique role of public speaker and leader of a ministry?
I am intentional about being in accountable relationships and submitting myself to others in the Body of Christ. I look for opportunities and appropriate ways to come under the spiritual covering and protection of godly men—sitting under the preaching of the Word and being responsive to the spiritual leadership of the pastors and elders in my local church; seeking counsel, direction, and input from the director of our parent ministry and from the Advisory Board that oversees Revive Our Hearts.
I am blessed to have mature believers—women, couples, and men—who care for my soul and are committed to speak into my life, to help me see blind spots, and to call me to repentance as needed.
Though I can’t do it as much or as often as I would like, I love opportunities to practice hospitality in my home and look for ways to have a more personal, nurturing role in the lives of women, children, and families that the Lord brings into my life.
Yesterday we learned about your growing up years and how God drew you to Himself and gave you a passion for ministry at an early age. Today you serve in many different arenas—writing, speaking, etc. Can you give us an overview of how you currently spend most of your time? What aspect of ministry do you enjoy most or get most excited about?
My time is divided between preparing and recording for daily radio, writing books and other resources, doing some speaking, and providing leadership for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.
I love the variety of ways He has allowed me to serve Him and others. I consider it a great privilege to spend much of my time studying the Word, getting my own soul nourished, and then feeding others with the rich meat of His Word.
What is a “typical” day like for Nancy DeMoss?
Except for when I’m on the road speaking, etc., I spend the majority of my time sitting at my laptop, studying, developing new message material, writing, or working on email (which is a blessing, but can also be the single greatest distraction in my relationship with the Lord!).
Because I am single and work out of my home, I can generally work “two shifts” – in order to do that, I usually take a short nap in the afternoon!
I know that you work extremely hard. What are some of your favorite ways to rest and relax?
I love to read; I have a walking partner who pulls me away from my laptop; the Lord has placed some wonderful women and couples in my life who are a source of encouragement and grace; I love doing things with families—my friends’ children, some of whom I’ve known all their lives, are now having their own children—which makes me feel like a “Grandma”—I love it! A couple years ago, I started observing “computer-free Sundays”—that has been a wonderful and replenishing gift from the Lord—I only wish I had started years earlier!
How has your relatively new role as host of Revive our Hearts radio changed your life? What do you enjoy most about radio? What do you least enjoy?
The requirements of coming up with 260 programs every year, in addition to meeting publishing deadlines, developing new resources, and leading a growing ministry have forced me to be more disciplined.
I have a constant, conscious sense of my need for the Lord—that I can’t make it apart from Him (that’s a good thing!). I have seen more of my weaknesses and experienced more of His strength . . . more of my sinfulness and more of His grace. I’ve learned a lot (and am still learning!) about relinquishing control and letting the Lord and others manage things.
As a result of seeing Him come through on my behalf and the ministry’s behalf again and again and again (we call them “Red Sea moments”), I have even more reason to trust Him and less reason to doubt Him or to panic or be anxious in the midst of storms. Not that I never doubt or panic—I do! But my heart is steadied as I remember His faithfulness over these past six years.
The two things I most love about the radio ministry are (1) the times I’m actually recording new teaching programs (which I do with a live audience)—after all the hard work of preparation is behind me. I sometimes think as I’m teaching, “This is what I was made to do!” (2) Getting to meet and hear from the women whose hearts and homes have been revived as they have heard and responded to the message we are delivering. Though I do not have physical children of my own, the Lord has blessed me with many spiritual children—I have no greater joy than to know that they walk in the Truth.
Today, we are excited to offer the first installment of a four-part interview with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy, you were raised in a godly home. Can you tell us a little about your parents, your growing up years, and how your childhood shaped your desire to serve full-time in Christian ministry?
How old were you when you repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ? Can you tell us a little about your conversion experience?
[I combined these two questions into one long answer.]
My spiritual pilgrimage began months before I was born, as my parents dedicated me to the Lord and purposed to teach me (and the six children that would follow) the Word and ways of God.
Much as a greenhouse is designed to nurture young plants and protect them from influences that might damage their tender roots, the climate of our home was carefully controlled to minimize influences that could possibly be unwholesome (we did not own a television or take a paper, for example) and to provide constant nurture in the Word of God.
In that spiritual climate, the Spirit of God cultivated the soil of my heart, making it tender and responsive to His wooing, and making me aware of my need for a Savior. My earliest conscious memory is trusting Christ as my Savior at the age of four on May 14, 1963. (At the time, my parents were using a book called Leading Little Ones to God in our family devotions. This book is a chronological, doctrinal survey of the Scripture; it is still in print and is a great resource for parents with young children.)
Early in my Christian life, I learned about one of the most essential ingredients in nurturing a personal relationship with the Lord, as I became aware that my father began each day with a practice that he called “devotions.” From shortly after his conversion in his mid 20s, until the day he went to heaven, he never missed one single day of this devotional practice. Nothing was more important to him than cultivating his relationship with the Lord, and he believed strongly that nothing was more essential to maintaining that relationship than a daily time alone with the Lord in the Word and prayer.
Daily devotions was not something my parents forced on us, but the influence of my dad’s example and training in this area was profound. The image of my dad on his knees before the Lord is indelibly etched on my mind and in my heart.
My early years were also deeply impacted by reading biographies of great men and women of God and by meeting and interacting with godly believers and Christian workers that my parents hosted in our home. I loved to sit and listen to them talk about the Lord, to ask them questions, and to hear them pray. The Spirit used these two influences to give me a passion for Christ and for ministry.
You pursued music—piano performance—in college. What did you want to do with your life? How did you begin serving in ministry instead?
By the time I was six or seven years old, I had a conscious sense that God’s hand was on my life and that He had set me apart to serve Him. Although I had no idea what shape that calling would take, I have never been able to fathom doing anything other giving my life to further His Kingdom.
Early on, the Lord provided opportunities for me to serve Him and others. I taught my first Sunday School lesson when I was eight years old. From the time I was in junior high school, I began having regular opportunities to teach the Word—which I loved to do. All the way through high school and college, I made myself available to serve as the Lord opened doors. Most of those opportunities had to do with teaching or writing.
I studied piano from the time I was four and continued doing so through college. But much of my time in high school and college was spent in various types of ministry. God never wastes experiences—the disciplines, training, and sensitivity I received through my music studies have all been put to great use in the work to which He has called me.
Can you tell us about your early years with Life Action Ministries?
As a young teen, as a result of reading accounts of spiritual awakenings in the past—both in history and in the Scripture, God placed in my heart a deep burden for genuine, Spirit-wrought revival in the church. But I didn’t know anyone else who seemed to understand or share that burden.
When I graduated from college, I went to work in the children’s ministries of a large local church. That is where I first connected with Life Action, at the age of 20. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I discovered a whole ministry that was devoted to the mission of believing God for revival in the church!
I have served with Life Action for more than 28 years—it has been a rich, rewarding relationship—a wonderful place for spiritual growth, encouragement, accountability, and partnering in ministry with like-hearted believers who take God seriously.
I first met Nancy Leigh DeMoss at a Family Life/Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood conference in March 2000. She probably does not remember our first conversation, but I will never forget it. We were walking to one of the sessions together and I asked her a question about her schedule—which to say the least was very full and demanding (and still is!). After a few moments of sharing, she turned and looked at me with tears in her eyes and said: “Isn’t it such a wonderful privilege to serve our Savior?” I was immediately struck by her sincere love for Jesus Christ, and as I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her better, her passion for our Savior has only become more obvious. Her love for God is displayed by a commitment to personal holiness and dedicated service to the body of Christ. No doubt many of you are already familiar with Nancy’s ministry and radio show, Revive Our Hearts, and I’m so glad you’ll have a chance to get to know her a little better through this interview. So grab your coffee cup and let’s sit down for a chat with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I was born in East Orange, New Jersey.
One of the best “spiritual” books I’ve ever read (besides the Bible) is Fenelon’s The Seeking Heart; Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret . . . (I am a huge consumer of biographies!).
A “non-spiritual” book I enjoyed reading was David McCullough’s John Adams and 1776.
Right now I am (re-)reading Amy Carmichael’s The Gold Cord—an inspiring look at the principles that undergirded her ministry. I have found her insights extremely helpful and challenging as I seek to build our ministry on a godly (rather than a worldly) foundation. During Lent, I read F.W. Krummacher’s The Suffering Savior – wow! God used that book in a powerful way to give me a fresh picture of my sinfulness and to deepen my sense of need and my adoration for His atoning sacrifice and redeeming grace.
I’ve watched ____________movie more times than any other. Don’t laugh—I enjoy Pollyanna . . . I love the way her grateful spirit transforms her world – and it reminds me that I don’t want to become like the cantankerous older woman in the story!
The music you’re most likely to find me listening to is simple, quiet, instrumental hymns/familiar choruses.
My favorite food is anything high carb – pizza, pasta, breads, potatoes—all the stuff you’re not supposed to eat!
In the morning I drink… I pretty much stick with water—morning, noon, and night. I know—boring!
The household chore I most enjoy is…Is running the dishwasher a household chore?
If I have free time, you’ll most likely find me having dinner with friends; reading; playing Text Twist on my laptop; doing jigsaw puzzles.
My favorite place in the world is home!
A Bible verse I return to often is “And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be? . . . . And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you . . .’” (Luke 1:34-35)
The woman I most want to be like is Mary of Nazareth—I love her heart in responding to God’s supernatural calling on her life: “I am the Lord’s handmaiden; may it be to me according to Your word” (Luke 1:38)
We’re pleased to have Noël Piper back with us for the third and final portion of our interview.
As I mentioned yesterday, Noël, you have a writing gift, which you have sought to use for the benefit of the church. You have written the children’s book, Most of All, Jesus Loves You!, as well as Treasuring God in Our Traditions, and most recently Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God.
First of all, I want to ask you about Treasuring God in Our Traditions. Why do you think this topic is so important?
Of course, reading the book is the best way to find out the answer to that question. The short answer is that if God is the center and treasure of our lives, that should (will?) reflect that reality in the way we choose to celebrate special occasions and to shape our everyday habits. With the book, I wanted to remind Christians of that and help them think about how it plays out.
Now that your children are grown, how have you seen the benefits of God-exalting traditions in your family life?
I believe that everything we do right in our family is, in some way pointing our children toward God. So the best thing I can see is that my children are following God and raising their children to treasure God.
If you had to pick, what would you say is your favorite Piper family tradition?
The one family tradition that I canNOT imagine abandoning is almost-daily family prayer/devotions. There are several related pieces to that tradition:
Family devotions with whole family togethr
Prayer time of just my husband and me together
Personal devotional times for each person alone, including for the children
Your most recent book is Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God which is filled with fascinating stories of women of faith. How can we as women in the twenty-first century benefit from studying biographies of godly women from the past?
Hebrews 13:1-6 admonishes us to live godly lives and reminds us that God is our helper. Then verse 7 tells us one way that God helps us: Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us to look toward those who have gone before us in the faith, to listen to what they say about God and to look at the way they lived and to imitate their faith.
No one’s life is exactly like mine. And some lives seem too different to be of interest or use. But, when you consider a life, you discover similar emotions, fears, needs. For instance, I’m not afraid of imprisonment, but when I read about Esther Ahn Kim’s fear, I’m reminded how to deal with the things I AM afraid of.
I think that’s the point of the very next verse, Hebrews 13:8— Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.
My life is not exactly the same as any other person’s, but when I look at someone else’s life in a biography, it’s not ultimately her life I want to see. I want to see her Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Are you currently planning or working on another book you can tell us about?
I’m just starting to research the life of Betsey Stockton. As far as I know, no book has been written about her. She was an American-born black slave in the early 1800s, living in Princeton, NJ. She was freed soon after her conversion, and in 1823, became the 1st single woman to be sent out as a missionary in the American missionary movement, which had begun just a few years previous with the sending of Adoniram Judson. She went to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), expecting to spend her life there, but had to return to America after just a couple of years. Afterward, she became a matriarch in the black community of Princeton.
I would be very thankful for any sources or information that anyone can send me that might relate to her life and places.
Finally, and I saved the hardest one for last, what do you think is the most urgent need among Evangelical Christian women today?
One urgent need for men and women—but perhaps it’s more a problem for women—is to love and trust and seek God’s truth more than we depend on our own emotions. When I don’t understand or I hate the ways things are happening, I may want to think (even subconsciously), “I surely wouldn’t do things like that if I were God.” And then it would be easy for my emotions to tempt me to say, “Therefore, God is not good.”
We need to know that God is God, and we aren’t. We need to acknowledge that we don’t always understand why he acts as he does, but to trust that he sees everything and knows everything and has all power—AND that everything he does is good. That’s what he tells us in his Word, and his word is truth.
What is one question you wished I had asked and what is your answer?
Noël, what ministries are you involved with outside the church walls?
And my answer would be:
I get really excited about 2 kinds of ministry, and just recently the 2 have overlapped in an exhausting and exciting way.
1. For a long time, I have loved doing all sorts of missions travel. Usually I will be visiting missionary families or groups that include people sent from our church. Different trips have different emphases: prayer walks and personal prayer ministry perhaps or maybe speaking at a conference. Whatever the official form of a mission, I’m praying that a key impact will be that missionaries are encouraged and strengthened to continue the work and life God has given them. Always I learn lots about how God is working in other places and come back home knowing a little bit better how to pray for particular people and places.
2. In various ways over a lot of years, God has brought me more deeply into ministry to and with people with disabilities. For the last few years I’ve been on the Minnesota Board of Joni and Friends, which has been the primary channel for this sort of ministry.
These 2 kinds of ministry overlapped recently when I was part of a team distributing wheelchairs in Cameroon, West Africa. It’s a humbling thing to see people coming to you however they can get there—crawling on hands and knees, dragging themselves, being carried by someone not much larger than themselves—and to see that for these people mobility is more important than dignity . . . And then to see the faces when they were in their new chairs and could meet the world face to face. It made me stop and realize that almost everyone I know who uses a wheelchair would be moving like that—if they could move at all—without the blessing of a chair.
I jotted down some other thoughts from this trip at the Desiring God blog. You can read more info about JAF’s ministries and resources at www.joniandfriends.org.
(I’m having to wipe my eyes looking again at this woman who couldn’t stop rejoicing.)
Noël, thank you so much for agreeing to be our first girl-to-girl talk interviewee. It’s been such a joy to get to know you a little better. We pray that God will continue to pour out His blessing on you and your family.
For our readers, we would encourage you to check out more resources by Noël Piper at www.desiringgod.org.