STUDY ARTICLE 17
Mothers—Learn From the Example of Eunice
“Do not forsake the instruction of your mother. [It is] an attractive wreath for your head and a fine ornament for your neck.”—PROV. 1:8, 9.
SONG 137 Faithful Women, Christian Sisters
1-2. (a) Who was Eunice, and what challenge did she face as a mother? (b) Comment on the cover picture.
ALTHOUGH the Bible does not describe Timothy’s baptism, it is not hard to imagine the joy that his mother, Eunice, felt that day. (Prov. 23:25) Picture her eyes beaming with pride as Timothy stands waist-deep in water. She smiles while Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, holds her close. Eunice gasps softly and holds her breath as Timothy disappears beneath the water. With a loud splash, he reappears with a triumphant grin on his face, and she can no longer hold back her tears. Eunice has successfully met the challenge of teaching her son to love Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ. What difficulties did she have to overcome to get to this point?
2 Timothy was raised in a religiously divided household. His father was a Greek, and his mother and grandmother were Jews. (Acts 16:1) Timothy was likely a teenager when Eunice and Lois embraced a different religion—Christianity. Still, the household remained divided. Which path would Timothy take? He was probably old enough to make his own decision. Would he take sides with his unbelieving father? Would he cling to the Jewish traditions he had been taught from childhood? Or would he accept this newfound faith in Jesus Christ?
3. According to Proverbs 1:8, 9, how does Jehovah view the work that mothers do to help their children become his friends?
3 Christian mothers today likewise love their family. More than anything, they want to help their children to develop a close friendship with Jehovah. And our God highly values their efforts. (Read Proverbs 1:8, 9.) Jehovah has guided countless mothers as they helped their children to accept the truth.
4. What challenges do mothers face today?
4 Naturally, a mother may at times wonder if her children will choose to serve Jehovah, as Timothy did. After all, parents know how much pressure their children face in Satan’s world. (1 Pet. 5:8) Additionally, many mothers have the challenge of raising their children without a husband or with a husband who does not worship Jehovah. For example, a sister named Christineb says: “My husband was a good father and family man, but he strongly opposed my raising our children as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I shed many tears over the years, wondering how my children could ever come to worship Jehovah.”
5. What will we discuss in this article?
5 If you are a Christian mother, you can be successful, as Eunice was. In this article, we will discuss how you can imitate her example in teaching your children by what you say and what you do. We will also see how Jehovah will help you.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN BY WHAT YOU SAY
6. As indicated at 2 Timothy 3:14, 15, how did Timothy become a Christian?
6 When Timothy was a little boy, his mother did her best to acquaint him with “the holy writings,” as the Jews understood them. Of course, her knowledge was limited because she knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Still, what Timothy learned from the Scriptures provided him with a good basis to accept Christianity. But would he? As a young man, he had the right to choose whether he would live his life as a Christian. No doubt Timothy was “persuaded to believe” the truth about Jesus partly because of his mother’s efforts. (Read 2 Timothy 3:14, 15.) How grateful Eunice must have been that she had successfully met the challenge of teaching her son about Jehovah! Eunice truly lived up to her name, which comes from a word meaning “conquer.”
7. How could Eunice help her son to progress after his baptism?
7 Baptism was an important step in Timothy’s life, but Eunice’s worries were not over. How would her son use the rest of his life? Would he get involved with bad association? Would he go to school in Athens and accept the teachings of the pagan philosophers there? Would he slave for riches, wasting his time, energy, and youth? Eunice could not make decisions for Timothy, but she could help him. How? She could continue to work hard to instill in her son deep love for Jehovah and gratitude for His Son. Challenges are not unique to those living in religiously divided households. Even when both parents are in the truth, it can be difficult to touch the heart of young ones so that they will become faithful servants of Jehovah. What can parents learn from Eunice’s example?
8. How can a mother help her believing husband to care for their children’s spiritual needs?
8 Study the Bible with your children. Sisters, if your husband is in the truth, Jehovah wants you to help him care for the spiritual needs of your children. One way you can do this is by regularly supporting the Family Worship session. Speak positively about the arrangement, and consider what you can do to create a warm and enjoyable atmosphere. Perhaps you can help your husband plan a special Bible study project or activity. In addition, if some of the children are old enough to benefit from a personal Bible study in the Enjoy Life Forever! book, perhaps you can work along with your husband to provide the needed assistance.
9. Where can a mother who has an unbelieving husband find help?
9 Some mothers have to take the lead in studying the Bible with their children, either because they are single parents or because their husband is not a believer. If that is the case in your household, do not be overly anxious. Jehovah will help you. Use the effective teaching tools that he has provided through his organization to study with your children. Why not consult other experienced parents for fresh ideas on how to use these tools for family worship?c (Prov. 11:14) Jehovah can also aid you in communicating with your children. Ask him to help you draw out what is on their mind and in their heart. (Prov. 20:5) A simple question such as ‘What is your greatest challenge at school?’ can lead to a productive conversation.
10. In what other way can you help your children to learn about Jehovah?
10 Create opportunities to teach your children about Jehovah. Talk about Jehovah and the many good things he has done for you. (Deut. 6:6, 7; Isa. 63:7) This is especially important if you cannot study regularly with your children at home. Christine, quoted earlier, says: “Opportunities to discuss spiritual things were so few that I took advantage of any moment we had. We would go for walks or pile into a canoe and paddle out from the shore to talk about Jehovah’s wonderful creation and about many spiritual things. As soon as my children were old enough, I encouraged them to study the Bible on their own.” In addition, speak positively about Jehovah’s organization and about your brothers and sisters. Do not criticize the elders. What you say about them can determine whether your children will turn to them in times of need.
11. According to James 3:18, why is it important to promote peace at home?
11 Promote peace at home. Regularly express your love for your husband and your children. Speak about your husband in a kind and respectful way, and train your children to do the same. When you do this, you create a peaceful atmosphere that is conducive to learning about Jehovah. (Read James 3:18.) Consider the example of Jozsef, who serves as a special pioneer in Romania. While he was growing up, his father made it very difficult for him, his mother, and his siblings to serve Jehovah. Jozsef says: “My mother tried hard to create a peaceful home for us. The harsher my father was, the kinder my mother was. When she noticed that we had a hard time respecting and obeying our father, she would discuss Ephesians 6:1-3 with us. Then she would talk to us about Father’s good qualities and help us understand why we should cherish him. She defused many tense situations this way.”
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN BY WHAT YOU DO
12. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, what effect did Eunice’s example have on Timothy?
12 Read 2 Timothy 1:5. Eunice set a good example for Timothy. She must have taught him that true faith involves action. (Jas. 2:26) Timothy could no doubt see that his mother’s actions were motivated by her strong love for Jehovah. Timothy surely saw that serving Jehovah made his mother happy. What effect did Eunice’s example have on Timothy? As the apostle Paul noted, Timothy shared his mother’s faith. This was no coincidence. Timothy had observed her example and was moved to imitate it. Similarly today, many mothers have reached the heart of family members “without a word.” (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) You can do the same. How?
13. Why should a mother make her relationship with Jehovah her priority?
13 Make your relationship with Jehovah your priority. (Deut. 6:5, 6) Like most mothers, you make many sacrifices. You give up time, money, sleep, and other things to care for your children’s physical needs. But you should never be so busy caring for those needs that you sacrifice your relationship with Jehovah. Regularly set aside time for private prayer, personal study of the Bible, and congregation meetings. By doing so, you will strengthen yourself spiritually and set a good example for your family as well as for others.
14-15. What do you learn from the examples of Leanne, Maria, and João?
14 Consider a few examples of young ones who learned to love Jehovah and trust in him by observing their mother. Christine’s daughter Leanne says: “We couldn’t study openly. But Mother was very faithful when it came to attending the meetings. Her example and conviction made up for whatever we lacked in knowledge. We knew that this was the truth long before we ever attended meetings.”
15 Maria, whose father at times punished the family for attending meetings, says: “My mother is one of the most courageous sisters I know. As a child, I sometimes refused to do things because I was afraid of what others would say. But seeing how courageous she was and how she always put Jehovah first in her life helped me overcome my fear of man.” João, whose father forbade the family to have spiritual discussions at home, says: “Perhaps what touched me the most was that Mother was willing to give up everything—except her love for Jehovah—to please my father.”
16. What effect can a mother’s example have on others?
16 Mothers, remember that your example affects others. How so? Consider the effect that Eunice’s example had on the apostle Paul. He recognized that Timothy’s unhypocritical faith “dwelled first in . . . Eunice.” (2 Tim. 1:5) When did Paul first observe Eunice’s faith? It was likely during his first missionary tour that he met Lois and Eunice at Lystra, and he may have helped them to become Christians. (Acts 14:4-18) Just think: When Paul wrote to Timothy—some 15 years later—Paul still remembered Eunice’s faithful actions and used her as an example worthy of imitation! Obviously, she had made a lasting impression on the apostle and likely on many other first-century Christians. If you are raising your children without a mate or in a religiously divided household, be assured that your faithful example strengthens and motivates those around you.
17. What should you do if it seems that your child is not responding to your training?
17 What if it seems that your child is not responding to your efforts? Remember that training a child takes time. As shown in the picture, when you plant a seedling, you may at times wonder if it will ever grow into a plant that produces fruit. Although you cannot control the outcome, you continue to water it in order to give it the best opportunity to grow. (Mark 4:26-29) Likewise, as a mother, you may sometimes wonder if you are reaching the heart of your young ones. You cannot control the outcome. But if you continue to do all that you can to train them, you give them the best possible opportunity to grow spiritually.—Prov. 22:6.
RELY ON JEHOVAH’S HELP
18. How can Jehovah help your children to grow spiritually?
18 Since Bible times, Jehovah has helped countless young ones to become his friends. (Ps. 22:9, 10) He can also help your children to grow spiritually if that is their desire. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) Even if your children seem to stray, Jehovah will keep a loving eye on them. (Ps. 11:4) When they show the slightest sign of being “rightly disposed,” he will be there, reaching out to them. (Acts 13:48; 2 Chron. 16:9) He may help you say the right thing at the right time—when your children need to hear it the most. (Prov. 15:23) Or he may move a caring brother or sister in the congregation to take a special interest in them. Even after your children become adults, Jehovah may bring back to their mind something that you taught them in the past. (John 14:26) You give Jehovah much to bless when you continue to train your children by word and by example.
19. Why can you be sure that you have Jehovah’s approval?
19 Jehovah’s love for you does not depend on the choices that your children make. He loves you because you love him. If you are a single parent, Jehovah promises to be a Father to your children and a Protector for you. (Ps. 68:5) You cannot control whether your children make the right choice or not. But if you continue to rely on help from Jehovah and do your best, you will gain his approval.
SONG 134 Children Are a Trust From God
a This article examines how Christian mothers can benefit from the example of Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and help their own children come to know and love Jehovah.
b Some names have been changed.
c For example, see lesson 50 in the Enjoy Life Forever! book and the article “Ideas for Family Worship and Personal Study” in the August 15, 2011, issue of The Watchtower, pp. 6-7.