I lived in the Philippines for a few years as a teen. I worked in an orphanage over there and became “mommy-Pau” to some sweet little girls who lived with me at the time. There were many aspects to my work there, but the orphanage was one of the main things I focused on. During my time there and even shortly thereafter, I was often referred to as a “full-time missionary” or “full-time minister”. I loved my time overseas and could fill books with stories of the joys and pains I experienced during my time there.
I have been back in the States for over four years now, I’m married and I have two biological children of my own. Since I have come back here and started caring for my own family I’ve heard some strange comments. People have said things like “what happened to you? … you used to be so mission-minded” or “when are you going to start doing ministry again?” and various other forms of the same questions. Now that I am home in America, I am no longer considered to be doing “ministry”. The first time some one asked me one of these questions I was completely taken off guard but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a silly thing to ask!
Why is it considered ministry to care for two children in the Philippines, but caring for my own two children is not even worth mentioning?
Let’s compare for a moment my life as a missionary in the Philippines to my life as a mother in America.
When I was there I washed the girls clothes, played with them, helped them with homework & stayed up with them half the night when they were afraid.
Now, I wash my children’s clothes/diapers, I play with them, teach them new things, I get up mulitple times a night to care for them both…
it looks strangely similar doesn’t it?
When I was overseas I took care of the ministry budget and here I work our family budget.
There I was an assistant teacher in the school and here I’ve worked in preschools and daycares.
I taught the children there about Jesus and I loved them with every ounce of my being and here, I do the same with Little Man and Princess.
There are many more things that I could compare but the point is – why is one seen as ministry and the other not?
When I was overseas a lot of people respected me because of the work I was doing there. Since coming home I’ve had people look down on me for “quitting” ministry to “just” be a wife and mother. And it’s just plain sad.
Being a wife and mama is what God has called me to be. A wife to my own husband and a mama to my own children. To the world, that’s not nearly as glamorous as caring for neglected children overseas, but it’s just as needed and meaningful a life. Neither task is more “important” than the other, both can be done for the glory of God and He is pleased with both sacrifices.
So for now, I’m content to be “just” a mommy and wife. This is my God-given mission for this season of life, and I love it. My family is my first ministry and it will always be no matter what other ministry opportunities come my way in the future. But for now, I am focusing on the ministry set before me. The ministry of family.
In terms of influence, the problem is not that most Christians aren’t where they should be, but that they aren’t what they should be where they are. – O. S. Guinness
Do you struggle with guilt at not doing “enough”? What do you do to remember that motherhood IS a ministry?
This is awesome. I’m so sorry that people have told you raising your children is not good enough or not a full time ministry. I know what is like to be told you are not holy enough. I’m praying for you, my bloggy friend.
Kassi @ Truly Lovely says
Good for you girl! I love that you have this attitude. In my religion (I’m LDS) motherhood is held with the highest regard. Even our church leaders urge mothers to take their responsibilities seriously and urge the support of the rest of their family and community within that role. A quote from our first presidency…. “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” I think being a mother to your children is the highest honor and biggest job one can ever be asked to do. And you do it so well. :)
That’s neat! I never knew that about LDS. thanks for sharing! (and congrats on your little one on the way!)
Mel Caldicott says
I think it’s so great that you have spoken out about this issue and that you have the confidence to believe in yourself as serving God in your new capacity of a mother. Why is it that motherhood is belittled and played down so much even within the church? It needs to be seen as a career, calling, ministry and given the merit it deserves. Blessings.
Thanks for this reminder. In the busyness of life I can lose sight of the fact that every job (both big and little) makes up my ministry…a ministry to my family. What a wonderful eternal perspective that is!
So glad this was an encouragement to you today!
Stephanie Hanes says
What a great post. I’m grateful for my husband reminding me often that I am not JUST a mom and that this calling is a beautiful and very worthy one. I actually got a phone call from my college last week for their alumni fundraiser and was asked more than once by the same person, “so, what made you quit teaching?” and “so, I see you are no longer teaching. what do you do now?” and “so, are you employed anywhere right now?” and every time I said, “um…I’m a MOM”, I felt like I had to explain and justify that what I am doing is just as worthy and just as important as teaching. Because, in reality, I AM a teacher still – I am teaching my children to love, to know right from wrong, to write their names and count to ten, to tie their shoes and put on clothes, the brush their teeth and wash their hands, and so, so much more. Thanks for writing this post and continuing to share you heart here.
That’s so wonderful that your husband encourages you that way! Mine is great about it too! Motherhood is definitely a fulltime teaching position!!!
kimberly amici says
What a great reminder and I love the comparisons you make. Sometimes I do struggle with not doing “enough” but thankful I usually, not always remember that I am sawing into my family.
Stopping over from Wifey Wednesday…
Faith @ Artistic31Mama says
Beautifully spoken as always Paula! I absolutely love this. I felt a calling into youth ministry since I was a teen. A few years ago in our church I was asked to lead a group of young teen girls in the church. I was so excited and thought this was what God had called me to do. At the time I had three children. The group met on Sunday evenings. This was the only day of the week that my husband had time to spend with our family. I sacrificed that time to spend with these girls. I gave the girls rides to and from the church. I put countless hours into preparing lessons that were fun and interactive for their ages. Many times I would be at the church and no one showed up because they decided to go to a friends and not let me know they weren’t coming to group. I didn’t understand if this is where God wanted me to be why I felt like I was failing so miserably. It hurt and I was frustrated. Then I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. I let our Pastor’s wife know I was going to step down from my leadership position with the girls. After I did that it has only been within the last year or so that I have realized I didn’t fail at my calling into youth ministry. I simply didn’t listen specifically to WHAT youth ministry I was being called to lead. Now I know that even though leading those girls at church was a GOOD thing it was not God’s PURPOSE. My ministry is at home with my children. I am raising up mighty sons and a strong daughter for the Lord so they can spread His love and message to the world. I have embraced what a powerful and rewarding ministry that is. :-)
Thanks for sharing your story! It sounds like you are exactly where God wants you to be! :)
This is beautiful and so true. It can be so hard, too, to accept the season we find ourselves. I was so excited when I got the opportunity to stay home with our kids. I finally felt that my calling to be a full-time wife and mom was finally coming true, and it was a glorious year and a half. It wasn’t easy. Some days I wanted to quit. Many days I was overwhelmed. But I loved it. And tomorrow I head back to work. I start a new job. My family needs the income, and the jobs my husband is applying to will take months before he hears anything. So here I go. A new season. Trying to remember 1 Corinthians 10:31, so that no matter where I find myself, I must do my best to glorify God always.
I think the attitude you are speaking of is exactly why things are so upside down here in the States, don’t you? The idea that if we go to church each week then our family is fine and we should minister elsewhere. Crazy and so off track from what God teaches us in His word!
May He continue to richly bless your work :-)
This is well-written, and so important! Our family has been struggling with some very tough issues these last few years. We are faithful serving with our local church, and yet there has been this nagging feeling that I need to step down from some responsibilities because of utter exhaustion. Something has to give. Just recently, I heard someone who is in our church leadership comment that they “disapprove” of the idea of family being the first ministry, because if you aren’t serving actively in a ministry at your church, your family won’t see a good example. What?? Being a faithful servant……there is more to that than church ministries and committees. And the family needs to see the example of faithful dedication at home. Shall I use the illustration of several pastor’s kids I personally know who left the church BECAUSE their father/parents were fully committed to the church ministry, but their family was a clear “lower priority”. Those kids were betrayed by the “church” and didn’t grow up with a love for the family of Christ, but for a disdain for it……as if it were “the other woman”. We have to be careful in this area, as wives and mothers, that we do what we are called to do.
What a timely and perfect post!! This is exactly what has been on my mind and what I needed to hear. I have been feeling lately that I am not doing enough “ministry” but have been trying to remind myself that being a wife and mother IS ministry in the highest form! Man, I really needed this. God bless you for allowing the Lord to use you by sharing your heart!
I’m so glad this encouraged you today! You are definitely doing ministry, and while it is possible to do other types of ministry while being a wife/mama, it’s not always the right time, and that shouldn’t make you feel guilty! <3 So glad this post helped you today !!!