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Lessons from Home: A Life of Service

By Rev. Ann Mann
annmann@comcast.net

A life of service. This is how I would describe my mother’s life. She was born in a small town in rural Alabama in the summer of 1934 to a sharecropper and his wife. They were devoted Christians. Perhaps her mother more so than her father. But they raised their family to know, love, and serve the Lord.

Then there was the day everything changed. Not their faith, that remained steadfast through it all. But life as they knew it changed the day her father was shot. She was just 15 when a disagreement over a land lease cost her father his life. The gunman was convicted of murder.

The families of gun violence receive another kind of sentence. A sentence of life without the one they love. A life without the one they look to for safety and support. Life will never be the same. Especially so for my mom, who described herself as a “daddy’s girl.”

She tucked away her pain and learned at an early age the importance of making every moment count. A lesson she later passed on to her own children. She was an outstanding student, and earned a scholarship to Samford where she received a degree in nursing.

That is where she met the love of her life. He had a crush on mom’s friend. So, when mom’s friend called and asked if he was free to go to the Nurse’s Ball, he said yes. Only to find out he would be my mother’s blind date.

The rest is history. Within a year they were married, a marriage that lasted more than 50 years. My mother and father loved each other and their children. They chose to stay together, through the good times and the bad. They raised us to know, love, and serve the Lord. And they showed us what it looked like to serve both their family and community.

The essence of Christian service is beautifully captured in 2 Corinthians 4:5, which tells us: “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” This powerful verse is a reminder to live not for ourselves but as servants in the image of Christ. My mother (and father) embodied this selfless service.

The role of a mother is often characterized by selfless dedication and relentless service. Mothers frequently put the needs of their children and families before their own, embodying the servanthood that Paul speaks about. In every shift at work, every meal prepared, every bedtime story told, and every comforting embrace, mothers demonstrate the loving sacrifice and service that is at the heart of Christian faith.

By integrating service into her daily life, she set a profound example for her children. This aspect of living out her faith in front of her children not only taught us about kindness and responsibility but also about the joy and fulfillment that come from serving others. Such lessons are invaluable, fostering a nurturing spirit and a sense of duty within the next generation.

The influence of a serving mother extends beyond her family, touching the lives of everyone she interacts with. Whether organizing community events, teaching Sunday school, or simply offering a listening ear to a struggling neighbor, mothers like mine are pivotal in creating a supportive, engaged community. Their contributions, often behind the scenes, are the glue that holds the community together, ensuring that everyone feels valued and supported.

The message of 2 Corinthians 4:5, when lived through the lens of motherhood, highlights a powerful form of service that goes beyond the walls of the church or the boundaries of traditional volunteerism. It is a reminder that service is not just an activity but a way of life. As we celebrate the contributions of mothers like mine, we recognize the profound impact of their daily commitment to serving in the name of the Lord.

Let us draw inspiration from these maternal figures who, day in and day out, preach not themselves but Christ through their actions and love. In doing so, they teach us all a more profound way to live a life of service.

Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is annmann@comcast.net.

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