The ministry of a mother: part 1, ‘Her home’

In my life I find many opportunities for ministry, but I would like to share some thoughts about just three of them over the next few blog posts: my home, my children and my husband. As a stay-at-home mom these are the biggest areas of ministry in my life, yet often I find they are areas people fail to see as a ministry at all. I am excited to serve God in these ways, and hope that some of what I say will inspire the same in you!

The best place to start any kind of discussion – let alone one on ministry – is Scripture. Here are three I have chosen for today:

  • Proverbs 31:27, speaking of the wife of noble character: “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
  • Titus 2:5, Paul saying that older women of faith should teach the younger women: “to be busy at home”
  • 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul advising young widows: “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.”

First off, it is clear to me that God desires – to at least some degree – women to take responsibility for managing and caring for their homes. I don’t want to spend time discussing my stance on women working inside and outside the home, but I do want to clarify that there is a Biblical premise at the heart of why I choose homemaking as a ministry in the first place.

Ever since I was in my mid-teens I felt excited by the idea of taking care of my home and family to the best of my abilities. You know that feeling you get when you have a vision of a project which you plan to work hard and excel at? That’s how I felt when I thought about being a stay-at-home wife and mother. I find it so sad that in our modern culture this choice is often seen as a being a weaker, more boring choice than an outside career, and a cop-out to hard work. Rather, I think it should be viewed as Kathy Peel, of The Family Manager describes it,

“We need to take [family management] as seriously as career success, because home is where success really matters.”

So what does it mean to ‘take family management seriously’ and make your home a ministry? The following are some ideas I’ve picked up along my almost-ten years of being a homemaker:

  1. Something I learnt from Linda Dillow’s ‘Creative Counterpart‘ is that whether we realise it or not, each home has its own particular atmosphere. Think of the homes of your friends and relatives and pick an adjective to describe each one. Some homes in my life are ‘productive’, ‘comforting’, ‘relaxed’, ‘free’, ‘worldly’, ‘peaceful’, ‘friendly’ and ‘stressful’. Now think of how you would describe your home. How would your family describe it? How would your visitors describe it?

    One of the ways we use our home to share Scripture. We change it daily, each family member taking a turn. This was one was chosen and written by my Prince, age 5.

    Here is your first ministry opportunity: choose some adjectives you would LIKE your home to exude, and work on making it so. Some I have chosen for my home are ‘God-focused’, ‘loving’, ‘welcoming’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘family-focused’. You’ll have to ask my friends and family how well I’m doing on those…! But it’s a work in progress, and I hope to keep working on it daily 🙂

    One of the most inspirational quotes I have ever read, and which causes me to think about intentionally creating a Godly atmosphere in my home, is this one by Peter Marshall:

    “I was privileged, in the spring, to visit in a home that was to me – and I am sure to the occupants – a little bit of Heaven. There was beauty there. There was a keen appreciation of the finer things of life, and an atmosphere in which it was impossible to keep from thinking of God.” (Emphasis mine, taken from A Woman After God’s Own Heart‘ 2006, pg.155 by Elizabeth George)

  2. To help my home have a positive atmosphere, I find it important to keep it clean and tidy. While this is not how everyone operates (I have many friends whose homes are a joy to be in, but who keep the ‘a clean house is this sign of a wasted life’ motto!), I find it to be valuable in my house. When my house is in order I am less stressed, my kids are more creative, and my husband feels blessed. Everyone has their own ways of tidying. Some people I know do it on a schedule, but I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work for me. Rather, I find it better to do bits and pieces regularly, when they are needed and in between other tasks. I find that I naturally fall into a very vague schedule – for example, I tend to do a bit of an after-weekend-clean-up on Mondays, as I don’t do much of it on Saturdays and Sundays. I also find that I am more motivated to clean the kitchen first thing in the morning rather than last thing at night (I have NO idea why… all I know is it’s true!). I specifically try to tidy up before we go out, and make a special effort to clean and tidy shortly before my husband comes home from work, as I know how much he appreciates walking into order rather than chaos.
  3. Kids being creative on a nice clean floor 🙂

    Lindsey O’Connor, in ‘If Mama Ain’t Happy…Ain’t Nobody Happy’offers some practical ideas of ways to make your house a place of joy. She suggests using candles, pictures and music to help create a positive atmosphere. She also advises taking – and making – lots of opportunities for celebrations and special occasions. To build on these ideas I would encourage you to look at the talents God has given YOU and put them to work in your home. If you are a baker, then bake for the benefit of others. If you love to create things, make things to display God’s love in your home. Wherever your God-given talents lie, I’m sure you can find unique and creative ways to use them to advance the ministry which is your home.

Being a homemaker is a challenge, a joy and a wonderful way to minister to others. So many people are in and out of our homes – why not make the most of every opportunity to be a blessing to them and share God’s love?

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