Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 19-20

Chapter 19: Serving with Hardworking Hands

Clarkson takes through the idea that serving others involves a lot of hard work.  No wiggling our way out of this one.  Service is work.  How often do we find ourselves inspired and excited, only to realize that the reality is hard work?  That's not a bad thing, just a reality that we need to be aware of.  And something that we need to make our children aware of in order for them to be successful as well.

We all desire to follow the Lord, but often times find "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:41).  It's through personal discipline, lots of prayer, and loads of grace that we are able to cultivate our own hardworking attitudes that can then serve as shining examples for our children.  As Clarkson puts it: "As our child hear our words of instruction to reach out humbly to other in need and as we discipline them to persevere and do things right, they will learn a pattern of hard work that will enhance their witness and bring stability to their lives.  and yet it will be in the example of our own persevering faithfulness, patience and trust in the Lord that our children will learn to do the work of compassionate servants (pg 201).

I would add to this a joyful heart, although that's for another time.  Even though it's hard work and not always enjoyable, serving with a joyful heart come from serving in the Lord's strength, not our own.

*Try to think of some people you meet every day-- in your church, your neighborhood, etc--who could use some love and care.  Come up with a plan to help minister to those people's needs together.  (Your children's ideas may surprise and challenge you.)

Chapter 20: Serving in God's Strength

Clarkson opens the final chapter about her own children's struggle to find their way.  As her son struggled with his own fears and limitations, she and her husband give him the space to make a decision about participating in an upcoming conference.  They kept their opinions to themselves and instead encouraged him to pray about it.  She makes the following statement: "In the end, the measure of my success as a mother will not be how well I have taught my kids or cared for them but whether I have been faithful in helping them respond to God's call on their lives" (208-09).  

That just absolutely hit me.  It puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?  The to-do list, the endless schedule, the dishes and laundry, the variety of appointments... it all becomes clear when you put it in that context.  I might be making healthy meals for my family, running them to activities, eliminating all the BPA's and chemicals in my home, but if I'm too busy to encourage them in Christ, what have I accomplished as mom?

Being a mom can be a thankless job.  There's little to show for your time, and what we do isn't measurable by normal standards.  There's no promotions, no certificates of recognition, no employee of the month luncheon.  It can be lonely, discouraging, and tiresome if measured by the world's standards.  But if we can raise kids who respond to God's call, we've done our job as parents.  Sounds like such a simple thing, but guaranteed it will take us a lifetime to remember that truth for ourselves, let alone teach it to our children.  

*Read Luke 15:1-7.  In this passage, what was the attitude of the Pharisee and the scribe about "sinners"?  What does Jesus' story indicate about how God feels about "sinners" or "lost sheep"?  Make a list of people that your family can pray for and seek to reach out to.  Choose one and pray together regularly for this person.

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