Children Are The Mother's Priority

Ellen G. White


"If you have the idea that some work greater and holier than this has been entrusted to you, you are under the deception of Satan. In neglecting your husband and children for what you suppose to be religious duties, either to attend meetings or to work for others, to give Bible readings or to have messages for others, you are going directly contrary to the words of inspiration in the instruction of Paul to Titus. The religion of Christ never leads a wife and mother to do as you have done."


Lt 28, 1890

Battle Creek, Michigan

July 1, 1890

Dear Sister Amanda Van Horn,

I have some things to say to you, from the Lord. He has given me a message for you, that you are in danger of misunderstanding our duty. You want to do right and to be right, but at this time as well as all times in the future you must listen to counsel. If you depend on your own wisdom you will be guided by impulse and will imperil your soul. The enemy is very active to deceive souls and lead them in ways that are not the way of the Lord. {Lt28-1890} 

Mother's Role Is In The Home

Life is too short for you or me to turn our feet in any path that imperceptibly leads away from the only true and safe path. Life is filled with varied responsibilities. The Lord has a work for you to do; it is not a public work, but a very important one, a work in your own home, to be true to your position as a wife and mother. No other can do this, your work. {Lt28-1890} 

The Spirit and the Word of God agree. Remembering this, let us read the words of inspiration from Jesus Christ through Paul to Titus. He is charged to “speak the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things: that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” {Lt28-1890}

"The voice of the Lord has not bidden you to separate your interest from that of your husband and children. Your first duty is in the home."


With this scripture before you, I ask, For what are you spending your time in Battle Creek? Has God called you to neglect your home? No, no. {Lt28-1890} 

God Will Never Lead A Mother To Neglect Her Children

My sister, the Lord has shown me that you are mistaking your duty. Your husband needs you; your children need their mother. You have stepped out of the path where Jesus leads the way. He is saying to you, “Follow me,” and He will lead you to your own home duties, which are now badly neglected. The voice of the Lord has not bidden you to separate your interest from that of your husband and children. Your first duty is in the home. {Lt28-1890}  

The Spirit of the Lord has not given you a work, or qualified you to do a work, that is contrary to His own Word. I have no question to ask you concerning the influence which has lead to the course you have taken. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” From what ever person it may come, any teaching that would lead you to the slightest neglect of the duties lying right before you in your home is not prompted by the Spirit of the Lord. {Lt28-1890} 

You have a great work before you, a sacred, holy calling—in the way of your duty at home—to exemplify the Christian graces as a faithful wife and mother, to be lovable, patient, kind, yet firm in your home life, to learn right methods and acquire tact for the training of your own little ones, that they may keep the way of the Lord. As a humble child of God, learn in the school of Christ to be patient. Seek constantly to improve your powers to do the most perfect, thorough work at home, both by precept and example. {Lt28-1890} 

"The Lord has not called you to neglect your home and your husband and children. He never works in this way; and He never will."

In this God-given work you will have the help of the Lord; but if you ignore your duty as a wife and mother, and hold out your hands for the Lord to put another class of work in them, be sure that He will not contradict Himself; He points you to the duty you have to do at home. If you have the idea that some work greater and holier than this has been entrusted to you, you are under the deception of Satan. In neglecting your husband and children for what you suppose to be religious duties, either to attend meetings or to work for others, to give Bible readings or to have messages for others, you are going directly contrary to the words of inspiration in the instruction of Paul to Titus. The religion of Christ never leads a wife and mother to do as you have done. {Lt28-1890} 

You may now cultivate the homemaking qualities with good effect, for your children are of the age when they most need a mother. The restless spirit naturally inclines to mischief; the active mind, if left unoccupied with better things will give heed to that which Satan may suggest. The children need the watchful eye of the mother. They need to be instructed, to be guided in safe paths, to be kept from vice, to be won by kindness, and, be confirmed in well- doing, by diligent training. {Lt28-1890} 

The Saviour discerns a value and dignity in every soul, because of the image of God which it bears. He died that your children might have the gift of eternal life. He looks upon them with divine compassion. Their souls may be saved unto eternal life, and they are just as precious as the souls of others. The Lord has not called you to neglect your home and your husband and children. He never works in this way; and He never will. {Lt28-1890} 

You have before your own door a little plot of ground to care for, and God will hold you responsible for this work which He has left in your hands. Through earnest prayer and study, you may become a wise woman in your home, learning the different dispositions of your children, and carefully noting their behavior. You may have at home a little school, of which you shall be the teacher. If you seek wisdom from the Lord to understand His way, and to keep it, He will lead you, not away from your own home, but back to it. {Lt28-1890} 

Be The Light Of The World In Your Home

If you are one of those who are the light of the world, that light is to shine in your home. Poverty has been your lot, but this you could not help, and it was not sin. But your mind has been of that cast which has led you to view everything in too intense a light. Here you have lessons to learn at the feet of Jesus; you need to trust more to Jesus, and be less anxious; you need to have genuine faith in the promises of God. Yet you must be a laborer together with God, cultivating your mind, that you may bring to the education and training of your children a restful spirit, a loving heart, that you may imbue them with pure aspirations; cultivate in them a love for things honest and pure and holy. {Lt28-1890} 

Never for a moment suppose that God has given you a work that will necessitate a separation from your precious little flock. Do not leave them to become demoralized by improper associations and to harden their hearts against their mother. This is letting your light shine in a wrong way altogether; you are making it more difficult for your children to become what God would have them and win heaven at last. God cares for them, and so must you if you claim to be His child. {Lt28-1890} 

In time past you have erred in having too great an anxiety for your children. Your trust has not been fully in God, and you have indulged them more than was for their good. And now you leave them to themselves. What sort of an experience is this? Certainly, it has not God and truth for its source. You are offending God in claiming to be led by Him and yet neglecting your duty to your children. {Lt28-1890} 

Satan Seeks To Misrepresent God

Satan can use your course of action to misrepresent the Father and the Son, so that many will blaspheme God; and unless you face right about, the wrong ideas you have cherished will gain strength to control your reason and judgment. Thus God will be dishonored, and you will be removing farther and farther from your proper position for the performance of your duties in your home. Even now your mind is really unbalanced. The firmness of will, wrongly directed, will, unless corrected, result in insanity. {Lt28-1890} 

Satan wants to bring a reproach upon the cause of God through your course of action. He has blinded your perceptions and you believe you have received great spiritual acquisitions. I hope that this infatuation will be broken ere the name of God, instead of being glorified, is blasphemed through your course of action. {Lt28-1890} 

Give Yourself Unreservedly To God

You may give yourself to the Lord, and exemplify Christ in your home and in your neighborhood. The Holy Spirit of God, poured upon the children of men, does not make them less careful and conscientious in their home life. When we give ourselves unreservedly to the Lord, the simple, commonplace duties of home life will be seen in their true importance, and we shall perform them in accordance with the will of God. {Lt28-1890}

"Parents are fearfully neglectful of their home duties, they do not meet the Bible standard; but to those who forsake their homes, their companions and children, God will not entrust the work of saving souls, for they have proved unfaithful to their holy vows."


My sister, you may be bound about with poverty, your lot in life may be humble, but Jesus does not forsake you because of this, neither does He lead you to forsake your family for this or for any other cause. God has made you a trustee, a steward in your home; seek to educate yourself for this work, and He will be by your side to bless all your endeavors, that by and by, when the reckoning time for the administration of your trust <shall come,> He may say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” {Lt28-1890} 

Your husband has rights; your children have rights; and these must not be ignored by you. Whether you have one talent or three or five, God has given you your work. Parents are fearfully neglectful of their home duties, they do not meet the Bible standard; but to those who forsake their homes, their companions and children, God will not entrust the work of saving souls, for they have proved unfaithful to their holy vows. They have proved unfaithful to sacred responsibilities; God will not entrust to them eternal riches. {Lt28-1890} 

Oh, your faith must be something more than it now is. The Word of God means what it says. We must bring ourselves so to interpret the precious words of God as not to misapply their meaning or destroy their power to move the conscience. We all want faith, not an emotional religion. We want to believe the words of Christ, and be doers of every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. {Lt28-1890} 

Waiting And Watching Are To Be Blended

We are to be vigilant, watching for the coming of the Son of Man; and we must also be diligent; working as well as waiting is required; there must be a union of the two. This will balance the Christian character, making it well developed, symmetrical. We are not to feel that we can neglect everything else and give ourselves up to mediation, study or prayer. Neither are we to be full of bustle and hurry and work, to the neglect of personal piety. Waiting and watching and working are to be blended. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” {Lt28-1890} 

The solemn charge of Paul to Timothy is, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” God’s servants have a work of this kind to do; but if the people do not heed the counsel and reproof of the Lord’s messenger but push straight on in their stubbornness, they reject the Lord in the person of His servant, and great blindness will come upon them. I hope and pray that you will receive instruction; for no greater evidence can be given that a wrong spirit has the control of mind and judgment than that you will not receive counsel from the Lord’s ambassadors. {Lt28-1890} 

Do Not Leave Your Children For Any Reason

Letters have come from mothers, relating their trials at home and asking my counsel. One of these cases will serve to represent many. The husband and father is not a believer, and everything is made hard for the mother in the training of her children. The husband is a profane man, vulgar and abusive in his language to herself, and he teaches the children to disregard her authority. When she is trying to pray with them he will come in and make all the noise he can, and break out into cursing God and heaping vile epithets upon the Bible. She is so discouraged that life is a burden to her. What good can she do? What benefit is it to her children for her to remain at home? She has felt an earnest desire to do some work in the Lord’s vineyard, and has thought that it might be best to leave her family, rather than to remain while the husband and father is constantly teaching the children to disrespect and disobey her. {Lt28-1890} 

In such cases my advice would be, Mothers, whatever trials you may be called to endure through poverty, through wounds and bruises of the soul, from the harsh, overbearing assumption of the husband and father, do not leave your children; do not give them up to the influence of a godless father. Your work is to counteract the work of the father, who is apparently under the control of Satan. {Lt28-1890} 

My sister, you have the responsibilities of a mother. Never did your sons in their helpless babyhood need a mother more than in their boyhood and youth. The girls also need the watchful guardianship of an affectionate Christian mother. Mothers cannot love their children too much, but they can reveal this love unwisely, to their injury. The love must be sanctified, and then the mother will not act from impulse, but from principle. Then she will bring up her children to be pure, and discipline them to obedience. {Lt28-1890} 

The mother needs constant sympathy and help from the father of her children. The parents must be perfectly united in their work, and must seek help from God. While keenly alive to their most sacred responsibility, they should not become distrustful because they see that their work is imperfect, and does not secure the results they hoped for. Keep sowing the seed for time and for eternity. All heaven is watching the efforts of the Christian mother. {Lt28-1890} 

Do Not Be A Slave To Your Children

Your interest in your children must not make you a slave to wait on them. Teach them to help you. Boys and girls may be kept busy, trained to be faithful and diligent in the little things. It may seem to you that they hinder more than they help, but let them never know this. You are their teacher, and should train them to be useful, to do things tastefully and thoroughly. This is one of life’s great lessons that is essential to the well-being of your children. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” {Lt28-1890} 

You can preoccupy the minds of your children. Active brains and hands must be employed in something useful as the parents may suggest, else they will be occupied with evil things as Satan may direct. Parents may be teachers in a sacred sense, training the children to be useful in the common, homely duties of life, and all the time giving them illustrations of the higher life. Thus you are bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. {Lt28-1890} 

If parents believe that sin is an offense to God, and that none but those who are pure and holy can enter heaven, if they are consistent in their belief, they will seek wisdom and grace from Christ, that they may by every means in their power teach their children to resist and overcome sin. What work is more essential than that of a mother in educating her children for practical life and in molding their character for the future, immortal life? {Lt28-1890} 

Properly Trained Children Will Be A Blessing

Children who have been properly educated, who love to be useful, to help father and mother, will extend a knowledge of correct ideas and Bible principles to all with whom they associate. Such a family will have a powerful influence in favor of Christianity. But in order to secure this result, parents must not neglect their work or lose sight of their responsibility. Infidels assemble and devise plans to spread the poison of infidelity. The Papists are untiring in plying their subtle arts to suppress the Bible, the living oracles which exalt God as supreme. They want the control of men’s consciences. They want to enslave the soul, so that finite man shall occupy the place where God should be. {Lt28-1890} 

And shall Christians who bow to God alone as infallible be dull and inactive? Shall they not seek to understand what they can do to build up barriers against the tide of evil? Will they not educate and train their own children to become intelligent Christians, so that they may represent the character of Christ? The infidel has been heard to declare that if he believed what Christians professed to believe, he would be far more zealous than they. {Lt28-1890} 

"Let not one word of fretfulness, harshness, or passion escape your lips."

The Christian mother’s work begins in the home circle, in making her home what it should be, pleasant to her husband, pleasant to her children. These dear ones are in her hands to educate faithfully. The parents have given their children their own stamp of character, and if some traits are unduly developed in one child and another reveals a different phase of character which is unlovely, who should be as patient and forbearing and kind as the parents? Who so earnest as they to educate their children away from the objectionable, and to cultivate the precious graces of character revealed in Christ Jesus? {Lt28-1890} 

Scolding And Fretting Only Bring A Shadow And Discouragement

Scolding and fretting, gathering clouds and gloom about the soul, will bring only a shadow and discouragement in the home life. Mothers do not half appreciate their possibilities and privileges. They do not seem to understand that they can be in the highest sense missionaries, laborers together with God in aiding their children to build up a symmetrical character. This is the great burden of the work given them of God. {Lt28-1890} 

The mother is God’s agent to Christianize her family. She is to exemplify Bible religion, showing how its influence is to control us in its everyday duties and pleasures, teaching her children that by grace alone can they be saved, through faith, which is the gift of God. This constant teaching as to what Christ is to us and to them His love, His goodness, His mercy, revealed in the great plan of redemption, will make a hallowed, sacred impress on the heart. {Lt28-1890} 

Let not one word of fretfulness, harshness, or passion escape your lips. The grace of Christ awaits your demand. His Spirit will take control of your heart and conscience, presiding over your words and deeds. Never forfeit your self-respect by hasty, thoughtless words. See that your words are pure, your conversation holy. Give your children an example of that which you wish them to be. A man and woman, the husband and father, the wife and mother, are in God’s sight, in their religious life, just what they are in their home life. Father and mother, bind your hearts in closest, happiest union. Do not go apart, but bind yourselves more closely to each other; then you are prepared to bind your children’s hearts to you by the silken cord of love. Mothers, be very careful of your precious moments. Remember that your children are passing forward where they may be beyond your educating, training and molding. {Lt28-1890} 

"Peace, pleasant words, and cheerful countenances will never hurt your children."

You may be to your children the very model of all that is pure and good and noble. Identify your interests with those of your children. God does not intend that any other should do the mother’s work in the training of her child. He wills that the mother shall rise to meet her sacred responsibility, but this can never be done while mothers so largely neglect their duty to their children. Nothing can have a greater claim upon the mother than her children have; and when their needs are lightly regarded, when she sets aside their claims, in order to devote herself to visitors, she is robbing her children of their God-given rights. No absorption in business on the part of the parents can warrant a departure from God’s plans and ways. {Lt28-1890} 

Your first and grandest work is for your children. Let the light of heavenly grace irradiate your character, that your children may have sunlight in the home. Peace, pleasant words, and cheerful countenances will never hurt your children. This is not blind affection, not that tenderness which encourages sin by unwise indulgence and which is the veriest cruelty, not that false love which allows the children to rule, and makes the parents slaves to their caprices. There should be no parental partiality, no oppression; the combined influence of affection and authority will place the right mold upon the family. {Lt28-1890} 

We have Bible rules for the guidance of all, both parents and children, a high and holy standard from which there can be no swerving. God’s injunctions must be paramount. Children are to be taught to keep the way of the Lord. Let the father and mother of the family spread out His Word before Him, the Searcher of hearts, and ask in sincerity, “What hath God said?” {Lt28-1890}