My friend smiled condescendingly as he patted my shoulder. I was silent and angry, unsure how to respond.
We had known each other for years, meeting in our high school algebra class. Our lives had taken similar paths. University. Marriage. Children. Jobs. Living in the same small town.
Now he was moving on, answering God’s call to become a full-time missionary. He and his wife and two small daughters were diligently raising money to go overseas.
My husband and I attended the presentation because we wanted to support our friends. We listened to their hearts and silently cheered them on. We read their pamphlets and marked the box next to “we commit to pray for you.”
We left the box next to “we commit to financially support you” blank.
My friend pulled me aside and asked me to reconsider.
We already sent monthly checks to two missionary families, a sponsor child, a hospital in Ethiopia, and a homeless shelter in our own town. I knew we were putting our money towards the ministries God had asked us to support.
I did not feel the need to justify my decision to my friend so I simply said, “We will pray for you but God is asking us to put our money into other ministries at this time.”
My friend responded with, “I understand. Your ministry is to your own family. When you adopted those four kids, you brought the mission field into your home. You have done enough ministry for a lifetime.” Pat. Pat. Smile. Condescend.
What I should have said was, “You are right. My ministry is my family. Just as your ministry is your family. We all have a ministry inside our own homes.”
Instead I smiled on the outside and considered throat punching him on the inside. In Christian love, of course.
I have a quote hanging on my refrigerator. I keep it front and center, a reminder every time I pour a glass of milk for a child or a margarita for myself. Both are frequent occurrences so I quite often find myself reading these words.
“You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
Mamas, what we do matters. The cooking and the cleaning, the hugging and the laughing, the disciplining and the exhorting. It all matters. We can easily be distracted by the mundane tasks of motherhood, but let us never forget we are raising kings and queens. We have a heavenly ministry within the four walls of our home.
However, while I believe this to be our most important ministry, I do not believe it to be our only ministry.
We can minister to our families and….
Serve in the homeless shelter.
Be an advocate for abused children.
Be a shoulder to cry on for a girlfriend.
Write a book.
Fulfill God’s individual calling on our lives.
We are each called to unique ministries, different ways to serve the world and our families. Both inside and outside of our home.
When I read Proverbs 31, I read of a multi-talented woman. A woman who finds success in numerous arenas.
Home: “She provides food for her family” and “watches over the affairs of her household.”
Work: “She considers a field and buys it, out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.”
Ministry: “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
Mamas, don’t read this as a condemnation. We are all in different seasons. Maybe you are in a season of sleepless nights and poopy diapers and you have nothing left to give in the other arenas. Good for you! Tend to the blooms that need nurturing during each season of life.
No, mamas. Read this as an encouragement. As permission. We CAN love our families. We CAN work outside the home. We CAN serve the hurting.
We CAN fulfill God’s unique calling on our lives in a variety of ways. It is going to look differently for each one of us.
My first priority will always be to my family. I would never chose to participate in a ministry at the expense of my children. Then again, God would never ask me to participate in a ministry at the expense of my children. But let me tell you something: my children are not a charity case.I do not get extra ministry points because my family includes adopted children.
I do not get an exemption from following God’s leading in other areas of my life because I followed His leading in the formation of my family.
To assume otherwise devalues my children. It discounts the absolute privilege it is to be their mother.
My children are a blessing to ME. They are God’s gift to ME.
I am not doing charity work by raising these precious souls. Not any more than you are doing charity work by raising your children.
Sure, it is hard. And emotionally challenging. And quite often thankless. Any mom can tell you that.
But most of all it is a privilege.
I am a privileged woman because of the family God has designed for me. He showered His favor upon me when He gave me six beautiful children to love.
May we each willingly serve wherever we are called. Our children. Our neighbor. A stranger. The world.