Great Mothers – Susanna Wesley

Wake Up Call

When Methodists look back to their spiritual roots, who do they think of? John Wesley, their founder, right? I think they should go back an additional generation. If John had not had Susanna Wesley for a mother there is little chance he would have changed the fabric of 18th century society.!

Talk about a woman before her time! She shatters every stereotype of “the weaker sex” in the 1700s. Susanna was an intellectual heavyweight who had access to learning through her father, a Nonconformist minister. Yet at age twelve she decided that her father was wrong in his break from the Anglican Church. She officially switched churches, giving her reasons in a long theological treatise.

What is even more revolutionary is the kind of mother she was. She bore nineteen children, eight of whom died as babies. Rather than a house of chaos, her home was extremely well ordered; every child was reared as an individual. She believed that each child needed individual care and attention so she had a weekly one hour meeting with each one. The topic was always spiritual development.

John Wesley’s turn came on Thursdays and he treasured into adulthood these intimate one on one times with his mother. Susanna established a school for her own children and eventually expanded it to include servants and any children who had no other educational opportunities.

She instilled discipline, strict time management and orderly conduct and the Methodist movement took liberally from those concepts deeply ingrained in John. But the main thing is that she believed in a religion of the heart. Nothing was to take priority in her children over loving and serving God and doing his will.

John Wesley may be sitting on a throne in heaven right now but if so, I bet his mother is sitting right beside him.