Lois and Eunice, Servants of God

Lois and Eunice teach Timothy from the Scriptures (by William James Webbe, c. 1893).

Lois and Eunice teach Timothy from the Scriptures (by William James Webbe, c. 1893).

by Robert Bugbee

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

That was Paul, near the end of his life, writing to young pastor Timothy, who would carry some of the Apostle’s work forward after Paul was gone to be with Jesus. The Apostle did not refer to the faith of Timothy’s relatives in a way that sounded coincidental, in other words, “Well, your mother and grandmother had faith and now it so happens you do, too!” No, you get the sense when you read this that the faith of these pious women was an instrument the Lord took and used to shape faith and life in this young man.

Down the hall from my dorm room at the seminary years ago lived a guy named “Steve” who had begun his studies the same year as I. He lost his father at an early age, if I remember correctly. His mother took seriously the promises she had vowed when Steve was baptized. She saw herself as a primary “custodian” of his faith and life.

She went about it in a very concrete way, too. Beginning when Steve was a young school pupil, she read one chapter of the Bible with him every single day, taking time also to explain what they had covered, especially the hard parts. When they finished reading the whole Scripture, they went back and began again.

As a result, Steve had been through the Bible repeatedly by the time he left home for university and seminary. Steve probably didn’t need some of those introductory “Bible survey” courses as badly as some of us did, because he knew the Scripture’s “story line” very well. More than that, however, convictions about God, Christ, human sin, the Lord’s rescue, and many other teachings had taken deep root in him. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this “shaping” carried out by a believing Christian mother was crucial in Steve’s decision to give his working life to Jesus as a pastor.

Not everyone is called by God to be a pastor. Very few people stood in the unique spot occupied by Timothy. I don’t know the name of Steve’s mother, and there are countless believing mothers, grandmothers (and fathers, too, for that matter) whose memory was never preserved like that of Lois and Eunice, whom Paul mentioned specifically. But these true stories remind you that strong followers of Christ with deep roots do not happen by accident. Most of them did not come to be what they are by some quick turn-around. In practically every case, it took a lot of teaching and encouraging, correcting, praying, and showing by example to shape them. It should not surprise anybody that this sort of thing usually happens in an ongoing way without a lot of visible fanfare, because this is how the seed of God’s Word works in the world (Matthew 13:18-23).

Strong followers of Christ with deep roots do not happen by accident.

Remembering Lois, Eunice and Steve’s unnamed mother can also be a real boost to Christian mothers, fathers, and grandparents in our day. I can almost hear someone reacting by saying, “Yes, well, that might have worked back then, but everything is different in this day in age. Life’s too complicated now, and the influence of our society is pulling kids too hard in the other direction.

If that’s how you’re tempted to see it, let me remind you that a young kid like Timothy did not grow up in a safe, secure Christian world where the church loomed large and most people out on the street were reinforcing the good influences of Mama Eunice and Grandma Lois. In point of fact, the value system in Timothy’s world would have made him the “odd man out,” just as it can feel for young Christians in our land these days.

Timothy did not grow up in a safe Christian world where people on the street were reinforcing the influences of Mama Eunice and Grandma Lois. The value system in Timothy’s world made him the “odd man out,” just as it can feel for young Christians in our land these days.

Dear mothers, fathers, and grandparents! Believe me when I tell you that you have a powerful capacity to help shape young lives entrusted to your family’s care! Even when your eyes seem to say you’re wasting your time, it’s the evil one who wants you to buy into that idea so you give up the effort. He knows what an imprint you can leave on the young men and women in your lives. He also knows that, even though some of them may resist you for a time—yes, maybe even for a very long time—the last chapter of the story may not have been written yet.

God give you the eyes to see the deep treasure buried there in the mention of these two brief names, Lois and Eunice, to draw comfort from it … and to carry on the work they began!


Rev. Robert Bugbee is President of Lutheran Church–Canada.

Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: November 10, 2014
Posted In: Feature Stories, Headline, Presidential Perspectives,

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