April 15, 2013

Low-Maintenance Children

Ministry requires prayer, sweat and tears. Parenting does, too. As a busy ministry wife and mother, I understand the desire for efficiency and freedom that low-maintenance children would allow.  Such offspring don't exist.  In reality, Christian parenting is messy and fraught with sacrifice.  In addition, child maintenance is required at inconvenient times, such as when the mother thinks she has a quiet moment to plan a ministry event or pursue a hobby. To paraphrase a slogan from the old Candid Camera TV show, "Don't be surprised if sometime, somewhere, someplace when you least expect it, someone steps up to you and says, "Smile! You're needed as a mother."
Mothering is a God-given task. God blesses you by giving you children; and His Word equips you to raise them. Especially when they are very young, children and their nurture will take most of your time and energy. This is a ministry assignment that outweighs other kingdom work during certain stages of life.

It takes two to parent.  Men, who pastor a church or work as a missionary, are away from home a lot. In addition, ministry can be emotionally and spiritually exhausting. But, raising children takes a dad as well as a mom. Talk often to your husband about his vision and direction for the family. Discuss biblical approaches to parenting problems with him. Welcome his hands-on involvement with the kids even if he doesn't do things as perfectly as you think you do.

Beware of simple methods. "Ten Easy Steps to Raising Kids." "Christian Parenting Techniques that Get Results." Books and videos abound that help parents parent. A wise mother should measure all educational content (including what I say on this blog) by biblical standards and reject anything that says human effort can create a perfectly behaved child. A changed heart, rather than outward conformity, is the goal. Only God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, can change a heart. Parents should use all the God-given means in their roles.

Catch children being obedient. Moms give attention to confronting wrongs, restoring peace and saying, "Don't."  Looking for progress and saying "I am happy you obeyed Mommy." is worth doing, as well. Expressing unconditional love is very important. The Bible has commands, but it also shows us that God is pleased when His people obey Him. And, it contains many declarations of an everlasting love for His imperfect, sinful children.
The tasks of raising children and participating in ministry require lots of work, but the rewards are great. Instead of wishing for non-existent, low-maintenance children, a ministry woman, with God's help, can smile because she is needed as a mother.


  1. Thankful for the reminder that mothering my children is "a ministry assignment." (And thankful that you saw it as one when I was younger!)

  2. Yes Megan, I agree...a good reminder to remember our children are our "ministry assignment." I laughed when I read about welcoming (and being grateful for) my husband's help, "even if he doesn't do things as perfectly as you think you do." Man, I can get prideful about "my ways." Another great post! Thank you!!


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