The Working Mom

Lately I have read a lot of things about being a stay-at-home mom. For many, it seems like this critical and vital role is under attack. I’m confident that there are some people in our world who question why a woman would “give up their career” in order to raise their kids. I also know that in the circles I travel in, I have never met anyone who questioned this choice. To be fair – the circles I travel in are those most likely to stress the impact that proper parenting has on kids and therefore to (rightfully) celebrate the influence that a stay-at-home mother can have.  Therefore, I meet many more people who question why a mom would work outside of the home and the potential effect it could have on her family. And although I’ve been hesitant to jump into the discussion, I wanted to offer a few things to consider. Because the truth of the matter is that I think this is a subject where there should be a lot of grace, and yet so often I find that’s precisely what’s missing.

It’s Hard Being a Mom

The first thing that I hope all moms can acknowledge, and especially Christian moms, is that being a mother is tough. This is especially true if you are trying to raise your children according to God’s principles in a culture that is hostile to them. No one should look at motherhood and think that it is all butterflies and roses (although from my experience there is a lot of both!).  I have found that the most difficult days are not the one that I anticipate but the unexpected moments of not being sure what to do. Moms want to do right by their kids and yet it is impossible for us to see the future. Every mom I know has questioned some decision that they have made as a parent and have wondered whether it was the right one. Sleepless nights don’t only come when your children are awake; the also come from wondering what is the right thing to do.

The Rewards Are Great

Although it is difficult being a mom, the rewards are great. There is nothing that can compare to your child spontaneously telling you that they love you or drawing a picture just to make you smile. Of course, the greatest reward of parenting comes from seeing your children follow after Christ and being used by Him for His Kingdom’s purposes. When it comes to how we engage with other moms, let’s put our focus on that. We want to encourage our sisters in Christ as they point their children to Him. We want to celebrate their victories and rejoice with them in their children’s successes. Not in terms of how the world defines success – but in terms of how Christ does. When we meet a mom who is weary let’s help her refocus on the heavenly rewards that are in store for those who diligently and faithfully raise their children according to God’s standards.

Don’t Assume Motives

With those two things as the ground rules, let’s be careful not to assume motives when it comes to whether a particular mom has a job outside of their home while simultaneously raising her kids. For example – I recently read a blog post that seemed to indicate that the author understood why single moms worked but indicated that married moms who worked did so primarily for financial reasons. I trust that the author did know moms who were motivated by extra cash, but that might not be the only, or even the primary, reason a mom has a job outside of the home. Be careful ascribing motives or claiming that one path is superior to another without knowing the circumstances. Doing so will likely result in a lot of unnecessary hurt and potentially fractured relationships.

On a side note – can I make a personal plea? Please don’t ever say to a working mom that someone else is raising her kids. I’ve heard this many times from well-meaning people, normally in defense of why they choose not to work outside the home. Here’s the thing – both my husband and I work outside the home – and we raise our kids. I am regularly giving them instruction, teaching them right from wrong, wiping away their tears, correcting their behavior, and pointing them to Christ. I hope that someone wouldn’t say that a dad was excused from raising their kids just because they were also issued a paycheck. When someone implies I’ve leaving the raising of my kids to someone else, my heart breaks a little. Not because I feel the need to defend myself to that person, but because it seems that they equate raising a child with the amount of time spent together, and while there may be some correlation there, it certainly is not absolute.

Focus on Obedience to Christ

When it comes to your own decision whether or not to work outside of the home, the most important thing is that you are obedient to Christ. I am fully convinced that God calls some moms to be employed, just as much as He calls some moms not to. Recognize that you need to be concerned with God’s calling on your life – not your neighbor’s, your co-worker’s, your sister’s, or your mom’s. It Is not our place to compare our calling to someone else’s. God has created each of His children in unique ways to accomplish unique purposes. In the Bible we have examples of women who had “careers” and women who didn’t. Additionally, there is no biblical instruction regarding what a specific person living today should do for work – as long as the work doesn’t violate a command of Scripture.  Let’s not make universal proclamations on issues where the Bible is silent. And let’s make sure that we are carefully seeking God’s call on our lives and are willing to do whatever He has called us to – whether that means we are employed outside of the home or not.

All Moms Work

Lastly, let’s acknowledge that if you’re a mom, you’re working. Whether they work primarily inside the home, or they also work outside of it, as we said at the beginning being a mom is tough and that means all moms have a job to do. I’m sure that there are moments that many working moms wish they could stay at home, and that stay-at-home moms may longingly look at those who leave to a place of employment. But whether they stay or go, they are working.  In fact, when I meet a mom I never ask her if she works. The answer would always be “yes!”. Instead I generally asks how she spends her time, and in that I often get a more robust answer than simply knowing if she has an employer or not.  But if she’s a mom, there is work to do.  If she’s a Christian mom, she is working extra hard because the calling on her life is that all of it – as a mother, and in any other role –  is pointing others to Christ. This is the most worthy endeavor and it should be done with excellence. And excellence requires hard work.

Priorities Not Preferences

It’s often hard to have conversations about parenting and work because it is rightly a topic many people feel strongly about. But I would like to hope that our passion for serving Christ would supersede our personal perspectives and preferences. I also hope that regardless of what decision you make, that we can all have grace for others who may be led differently. And I hope that whatever you do, you do so because it  would bring the greatest honor to Christ.

Continue Reading

Team Player

When I was younger my dad taught me that almost any situation in life can be analogized to baseball.  Although it seemed silly at the time, I’ve grown to understand that there’s much wisdom in those words. Time and time again whether at work, in ministry or in family, I’ve used the game of baseball to either illustrate something I’m teaching or better understand something that God is teaching me.

One of the many lessons that I learned as a young baseball player is the importance of “covering the base.” If you are unfamiliar with baseball you at least probably know that different individuals are assigned specific spots on the field. You have a “first baseman,” a “second baseman” and so on and so forth. However, there are moments when a player has to leave their assigned position. For example, if an errant ball is thrown to the third, the third baseman may need to move into foul territory to get it. It’s easy to see that this leaves the base exposed. Therefore, it’s another player’s job to cover the spot. When the third baseman can’t be there to make the play, someone else on the team has to do it for them.

When a baseball team does this well, it is a thing of beauty. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about it is watching each player sacrifice so that the team overall benefits. If the third baseman said “It’s not my job to get that ball. I wasn’t the one who threw it poorly.” then the whole team would suffer. Similarly, if no other player was willing to leave their spot in order to cover third base, it’s likely that other team would win the game.

You may be wondering why I’ve spent so much time explaining baseball strategy – but hang with me. What’s true in baseball – is also true in our relationships. Whether it’s with our spouse, our ministry partners, our co-workers or our friends – we must be willing to sacrifice what is “ours” so that the good of the team takes precedence.

I find that this can be especially difficult to do in marriage. After a certain time of being married, chores tend to fall into “his” or “her” categories. Different families handle the assignments differently, but either deliberately or by habit, the categorization occurs. However, there are times when someone may falter in completing their “assignments.” Perhaps it’s one spouse’s busy season at work, and they are able to fold the laundry as quickly as they usually do. Or perhaps, one spouse isn’t feeling well, and the car maintenance falls to the bottom of the priority list. Whatever the reason, we all have times where we don’t get things done. Sometimes it is just for one day, but it could last for weeks, months or even years.

The challenge is in how the other spouse responds. By no means am I excusing laziness  – but if there’s a legitimate reason for why your spouse can’t complete the items on their “to do” list – what do you do? Do you silently judge them while remembering all the times you’ve completed your list even when you weren’t feeling well? Do you constantly remind them of what they need to do in a way that other people may consider it nagging? Or do you pitch in and “cover the base” – recognizing that there are all times when we need help – and in all likelihood – there are probably times when your spouse helped you?

In short, are you a “team player” or are you only concerned about yourself? 

Because when it comes to marriage, Christ desires that the husband and wife act as a team. In fact, they are to be so much a team that it is like they are one person. And if you think of all that you are willing to do for yourself – it may be convicting to think if you are willing to do the same things for your spouse. Not just to bless them, but so that the “team,” – the marriage – can be stronger.

Because in baseball, individuals don’t win games, teams do. And in marriage, it should be about the good of the team as well.

Continue Reading
1 2 3 569