All That Ministry Out There
The other day our church was being challenged to change the world with the gifts God’s given us. There are people deeply hurting, souls to be won, lives to be changed.
I agreed 100 percent. But somehow I sunk a little lower in my seat. It can be hard for me just to keep my head above water with the kids I have at home. “More ministry” was like saying “more bricks, less straw.” I saw the pictures of hurting people they were showing. And I briefly toyed with the notion that motherhood was really taking me away from what I could be doing for the kingdom.
It was an artfully twisted, albeit untrue, thought. I had to think through why my #1 priority remains — after God — my family, not my outside ministry. Not only that, but “ministry” and my family are one and the same.
Please understand, thanks to my mom’s wonderful childcare, I work out of my home one day a week for ministry! I also love to blog. God graciously gives me a whole lot of ways that I serve right in my perpetually messy tri-level. Without reservation I encourage you to find truly wonderful uses for your gifts in your current stage of life, whether in your mothering or in the ways you can contribute to those outside your home. From where we are, we can do meals, phone calls, small groups, costumes, administration, letters, lessons, painting, prayer, VBS, childcare, music … the ministries are unique as we are. The Proverbs 31 woman is a beautiful example! In fact, one of the best ways to teach my kids is to let them participate in ministry with me.
But here’s the skinny — some reasons why my priorities, in my interpretation of Scripture, are ordered God, then family, then outside ministry.
1. There are few better ways to disciple than day-in, day-out home life (see Deuteronomy 6, especially verses 1–6). No matter how many hours you can spend ministering to someone else, in my experience you’re building on — or attempting to reverse — what they’ve experienced at home. Those we love most give us the most intimate access to ministry. If Christians didn’t have children and just sought to save the lost for the next generation, how long and well would Christianity last? We’re building thoroughly healthy disciples, world-changers, and lovers of God from the get-go. Check out Psalm 78:1–8 for inspiration. Your role at home is absolutely critical in God’s kingdom increasing here on earth.
2. Our love for our husbands and children represent God’s love to a love-starved, lied-to world. People will see God as a parent as you care for your kids; they will see His covenant love in your earnest devotion to your man (not to mention that as you empower your husband, his ministry is yours). Well-behaved, well-loved kids and flourishing marriages are enough of a rarity that they turn heads and leave the fragrance of Christ. That uniqueness of wholeness of home and life is strongly compelling — like the lyrics from TobyMac: “When love is in the house, the house is packed.”
3. God’s put us here! If for no other reason than that, we need to be thoroughly excellent at what we do:
… obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22–24 (emphasis added)
Sometimes I have to question whether my heart (and not just my time) is in the place where God’s asked me to be. God is not more glorified when I’m attempting to do ministry that He actually hasn’t called me to do. And P.S., He’s capable of doing it even without li’l ol’ me.
If I throw my life into outside ministry when God’s given me a family, it’s possible that I could, in a sense, gain the good and lose the best. The accolades, fulfillment, and accomplishment can be a siren song. Trust me, after a day at work when I’m doing what I’m good at to reach the world and people are telling me about it, it can be discouraging to get back into the swing of changing diapers, kids arguing, and scrubbing a toilet that no one will probably notice until I don’t do it (ew!).
What if Susanna Wesley had said, “Forget raising these rascally boys. I’m going to go and change the world!” John Wesley and Charles Wesley (apart from God’s sovereignty) might not be names we recognize as world-altering saints. Or even more, what if Mary had said to the angel Gabriel, “I’d rather not be a mom, thanks! I’d rather go out and really help people.” God chooses moms to alter history! As the adage goes, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
I reiterate: GO. USE YOUR GIFTS IN THE SPIRIT’S POWER! Outside and inside of your home! The church needs your gifts! But remember the utter privilege and high calling that God’s blessed us with in the piece of the kingdom sprouting from our homes. God sees you and values you and your job immensely.