Susannah Wesley’s Talents

Susannah Wesley wrote in the 16th century:

…As I am a woman, so I am also the mistress of a large family. Although the superior charge of the souls contained it lies upon you; yet in your absence, I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my care as a talent committed to me under a trust by the Great Lord of all the families both of heaven and of earth. And if I am unfaithful to Him or to you in neglecting to improve these talents, how shall I answer unto Him, when He shall command me to render an account of my stewardship?   

The mother of John and Charles Wesley in a letter to her husband (1)

When a society loses its respect for motherhood,
it makes a mockery of motherhood’s provision for future generations,
and it loses its regard for the family.
That society sees people no longer as individuals,
but only as members of the corporate world body.
This is an affront to natural order and to Nature’s God.

Apostle Paul speaks to Timothy the young pastor:

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house… (2)

Just as God planted within a young woman the desire for a husband, he also placed within her the desire to bear children. Although our society mocks and denies this innate desire, the truth aches within the heart of every woman who has submitted to its denial.

Children are a gift from God. They are the greatest blessing we will ever know in this life. As Susannah Wesley expressed to her husband, they are the greatest responsibility we will ever have. More than any other person, parents have the opportunity with their children to form them into –

  • faithful servants of God, or
  • reckless servants of hell.

Is there anyone who has excelled in any field without encouragement from another person?
Children can and will be molded.  Parents should see themselves as responsible for their children’s development.

Susannah Wesley saw her children as the talents of Jesus’ parable (3).
The talent was a piece of money. It was something that had worth when it was given to the servant. Each servant was expected to improve the good thing the master had given. This is an appropriate picture in which to place ourselves and our children. We have two choices. We may choose only to supply our children with food, clothing, shelter and a little advice now and then until they reach the age at which they go out on their own. Or, we may painstakingly observe each of our children’s strengths and weaknesses, praying and doing all within our ability to encourage the good and to help each child to overcome his faults. 

Parents are admonished to train their children.
Training goes much deeper than good advice. As with athletes, training involves setting a goal and practicing daily, repeatedly, until that goal becomes second nature to the trainee.

The Bible promises that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it (4).
Why?  -Because he has been trained in it. The way he should go has become second nature to him. Is this degree of training really possible?

In truth, parents are responsible either directly or indirectly for their child’s behavior. Ideally, parents must not allow immoral influences upon the child before he is sufficiently trained. In the days before the internet and cell phones, this level of protection was more feasible. Today, our children cannot even ride down the highway without some immoral influence being perpetrated upon them. I do not advocate monastic seclusion for rearing our children. But we must remember that parents are accountable to God, if not to society, for the way they rear their children. Let us fear, as did Susannah Wesley, lest we neglect to improve these talents.

More to come on this topic.

(1) The Journal of John Wesley, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 60610, p. 102
(2) 1 Timothy 5:14
(3) Matthew 25:14-30
(4) Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The above is an excerpt from Womanhood and God’s Dominion Call available as a free  e-booklet on this website.