Since I became a Christian, I’ve been searching for something that I’m passionate about, some way that I could serve God with all of my heart. It seemed my husband had found his place rather quickly, God lead him out of his comfort zone and into leading worship. He started going to bible college, and is now a youth pastor. I have always done my best to support him in his ministry, but for some time, I have quietly envied him being able to spend his days serving God in various ways, his whole life wrapped up and around helping people come closer to Christ. Early in our marriage, I was a college student, and then I was working, and I was looking for the place where I fit –the place where I was passionately serving with my gifts.
Along came our first baby, and I might as well have thrown my bible out the window! Between rocking a baby who never wanted to be put down and being up all night, I had no energy for anything. I wondered how my relationship with God could even continue until after my children had grown! It was hard to find time to spend with God, even church was difficult at first, with having to leave to nurse the baby, change the baby, soothe the baby. I just didn’t see how it all fit together.
I started serving our church in little ways, and of course I have been planting seeds, but in some fleeting ways I have somewhat resented my children for holding me back from serving God in ways that I would like to: jetting off to Africa, or just simple having the freedom to volunteer for things. I told myself, someday I will have time for those things, but I am in the season of raising small children now, serving God that way will have to wait. I just didn’t get it.
This year, after four years of being a mother, I’m starting to finally get it. My children are my ministry. I have heard this before, but couldn’t embrace it. Somehow, changing diapers and cleaning up toys all day long is a ministry? It just seemed like a euphemism to me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my kids, and I love being a mom, but I just didn’t see how it was a ministry. I mean, a lot of people have kids. It just didn’t seem that special to be considered my ministry; I felt like I couldn’t “let them hold me back” from serving God. I didn’t realize that I have an amazing opportunity to serve God every minute of every day, and sometimes all through the night too!
Being a mother has to be one of God’s highest callings for a woman. Our society doesn’t seem to think much of stay at home moms, or even just motherhood in general. I even feel a bit small when I am surrounded by those my age with Bachelors and Masters Degrees, even Doctorates. What have I done since high school? I never finished any of the college programs I began, I just got married and have had a couple of kids. At times, it hasn’t felt like much. Oh, but God has done so much inside of me, despite my lack of professional credentials. And now, I have the high honor of raising children.
Motherhood is mission work. Whether you stay at home or you work, if you are a mother, you are a missionary. God has entrusted a flock of sheep for you to watch over, twenty four hours a day. You have been given the honor of shaping these tiny little people as they grow up into men and women. Everything we do impacts them, influences them, shapes them in some way.
I am humbled by the fact that “simply being a mom” is a ministry. I cannot believe I did not see this before! I now see that my “job” is very similar to Peter’s job as a minister: I get to spend my whole day serving God in various ways, my whole life is wrapped up and around helping these two little people come to know God. Ephesians 6:8 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” so when I am changing diapers, making lunch, cleaning the house, dissolving fights and teaching problem solving, taking my daughter swimming even though I really don’t want to, I am serving my family, and serving God.
Deuteronomy11:18-21 says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Everything we do with our children can be an opportunity to teach them about God!
So be proud to be a mother, and be proud of your ministry. Whether you work or stay at home, dedicate yourselves to training your children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
(For further encouragement, check out the Missional Mothering article over at The Resurgence.)