Today’s post is a message of encouragement for at-home moms from Donna Otto. Donna was a keynote speaker at our Hearts at Home conferences in the early years. Her books, including Loving Life As An At-Home Mom, were a source of encouragement for me during the twenty years I spent as a mother at home.
SERVING YOUR FAMILY – SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY
You may never have thought of mothering as a ministry, but it is. If you’re an at-home mom it is your primary ministry and your daily tasks are an offering to God.
You may find it difficult to think about serving your heavenly Father when your days are filled with such earthly tasks as changing diapers, cleaning, cooking, chauffeuring, and refereeing kids. So here are several key thoughts that will help you transform every one of your mothering responsibilities into a love offering.
View your ministry to your family as a ministry to Christ. Imagine that you are meeting Jesus upon your entrance to heaven. He smiles warmly and says, “Welcome, blessed child of My Father. Come and enjoy the kingdom I have prepared for you. For I skinned My knee, and you cleaned and bandaged it. I missed the bus at school, and you came and picked Me up. I was away on a business trip, and you spent most of your weekend typing the proposal I had to turn in at work on Monday.”
“Wait a minute, Lord,” you might interrupt. “I never bandaged Your knee, picked You up from school, or typed a proposal for You.”
And He replies, “Oh, yes you did. Whatever you did in loving ministry to your husband and children, you did to Me.” (See Matthew 15:34-40).
If Christ were here physically, you would be delighted and excited to cook for Him, clean for Him, and care for His needs. When you serve your family, you are serving Christ. As you cook for your family, you cook for Jesus. As you clean up a child’s mess, you do it first for Jesus. As you care for the needs of your child’s father, you do it for Jesus. We do it all for Him.
My husband, David, is a semi-retired tax lawyer, and I have had the privilege of laundering and ironing his shirts on a weekly basis. It brings me joy because David tells me it’s one of the sweet gifts I give him. I love the “bennies” of his remarks about my doing his shirts. He knows that I do his shirts with love and care.
God’s inexhaustible reservoir of love is the resource for your ministry of motherhood. The enormous measure of love we feel for a brand-new baby is amazing. We see his tiny hands, his great need, his dependency on us, and love pours from our heart. But usually by the time he’s two years old, our supply of human love has dipped very low or completely bottomed out!
You will never possess enough human love to stay at home, sacrifice for your children, and raise them the way God directs. You simply don’t have that much love. It is God’s love that gives you the grace that is sufficient to every challenge of mothering. You need God’s love and grace to live sacrificially for your children and point them to Jesus.
You need a good attitude about being at home. My most effective attitude check is found in Psalm 24:3-4: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?…He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” To me, “clean hands” represent my actions and “pure heart” stands for my attitude.
You must rely on God’s wisdom and understanding for the ministry of training your children. German poet and dramatist Goethe said, “We can’t form our children on our own concepts. We must take them and love them as God gives them to us.”
The verse we parents so often hear is Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” How are we supposed to know the way each child should go? I believe that God can teach mothers what needs to be accomplished in their children and how to train them in that way. He knows you and your children completely. And He will give you ideas, answers, and plans if you ask and listen.
In the Bible, Jacob blessed his 12 sons with a blessing appropriate to each one. How did he know what to say about each child? Jacob understood each one. He knew their needs, their potential, their gifts, and their personality styles. He knew them well enough to bless them individually and appropriately. Study each of your children and rely on God’s understanding. You’ll be able to bless each one through your wise mothering.
You must carry out your ministry in the authority of Christ. Since motherhood is a ministry for Christ, your mothering must be accomplished in His authority. In fact, one of my favorite definitions of motherhood is “a woman in authority.” Are you a woman in authority over your children? Do you understand God’s authority and where you fit in His line of command?
God holds you and your husband responsible for your children and gives you authority to direct their young lives. Your authority goes beyond giving birth and physically protecting them. You have the authority under God to raise your children to be servants of God. Are you exercising your authority? Don’t worry you’ll still find mistakes to make.
Your ministry is to be a servant, not a slave. I see some mothers who are servants to their children, and I see others who are slaves to their children. There’s a big difference. To serve is to render aid or help. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.” (Mark 10:43). If you want to be a great mother, render service to your children by training them in the way they should go.
A slave, however, is in bondage, controlled by a master. Your children should not be your masters. You should not be in bondage to your children. For example, consider the mother at the grocery store with a three-year-old chanting, “I want, I want, I want.” Instead of serving the child by giving him what he needs, the mother runs out of patience, and she becomes his slave by giving him what he wants.
We all succumb occasionally when our children insist on something and we are in a public place or bound by time constraints. I’m not talking about these exceptions. I’m talking about the standard. Who’s in charge at your house – you or your children? Are you determined to serve your children so they will grow to serve Christ? Or are you the slave who is in bondage to doing whatever your children want in order to keep them from disruptive noises or temper tantrums?
These five principles help provide a firm foundation for making motherhood your career choice. My prayer is that you’ll have fun serving your family!