By Susan Ream
The Christian mother has boundless opportunities to use her gifts and abilities. But how is she to know what God wants her to do with all the opportunities to serve Jesus and others in our busy and fast-paced world?
It’s enticing to choose admirable opportunities to serve, even though it might mean neglecting our God-given appointments. For example, as I raised my children, I allowed myself to be pulled in every direction imaginable. I was a wife, mom, teacher, counselor, pastor’s wife, friend, employee, leader, and more. I remember feeling confused about how to order my life. My home of origin had lacked order and been dysfunctional, and as a result, I often felt aimless as an adult, like a boat without a rudder.
I look back and think, Girl! What were you thinking? You didn’t have a clue.
A precious friend used to call me right in the middle of a homeschool day. I love this friend, and at the time she was struggling with some heavy-duty issues. She, too, was young. The phone calls interrupted my children’s concentration, yet I put her first because I didn’t want to offend her or be insensitive. It’s crystal clear to me today that I should have put boundaries around class time. This scenario played out all over the place in my parenting years.
I didn’t understand the concept of boundaries. When you have no boundaries, your life becomes chaotic. God did not create us to live in chaos. He created a world of order. As we follow in his footsteps we order our lives with clarity.
When I was asked to teach a class by someone who said I had the gift of teaching, I thought it was a request from God. If a respected Christian verbalized their confidence in me and believed God wanted me to use my gift, who was I to argue? I didn’t know it was okay to say no to a spiritual opportunity to fulfill the calling God had already placed on my life. I didn’t grasp the concept of priorities. But when priorities are in place, the decision to serve or not to serve is easy.
I am God’s child. He bought me with a price and I owe him my all! He must be my first priority. Scripture says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 NIV) and “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 NIV). When God is not in first place, nothing else makes sense.
I am a wife. Next to God, my husband is my first priority on earth. When we don’t reserve that place for our spouses, the union God calls one flesh tears apart and rips at our own flesh. We suffer and our families are placed at risk.
I am a mother. My children require nurturing. They need a safe, welcoming place to call home. Children function optimally with structure and order. This requires organization and effort on my part. Kids must be taught to be responsible; they don’t just pick it up at school. If we are too busy to tune into our little ones, we risk creating a sense of insecurity in their hearts. If we are overwhelmed by too much to do, anxiety will float in the air and touch them. Children are totally dependent upon us to teach them about life and godliness. If we are out and about ministering to everyone but our kids, our children suffer.
I share this bewildering, stumbling, and oft-times failing part of my life to encourage younger women. Learn from me. I am an older woman who has gained insight through the messes of my life. Strive for order in your lives and serve Jesus with crystal-clear purpose and priorities.
Doesn’t this just make sense? It’s really quite easy. God, husband, children. Though a simple concept, fulfilling it requires time, planning, wisdom, and a lot of prayer. After these priorities are in place, a woman can look to God for further opportunities to serve. Some women are ten-horsepower women. They efficiently and lovingly care for the family while ministering in the church and working outside the home. But not all women can juggle these three trusts. The key is to know your limits and choose to put your God and your family first.
Susan Ream is basking in the grace of God. She loves all kinds of people. Being a Mom is her favorite role. She has collected many “kids” throughout the years. Most of her life she has been a pastor’s wife. She cherished that opportunity and proudly supported her devoted husband. She is a mother to three grownups and Nana to eleven extraordinary grandkids. Much of her writing features insights gained through the messes of life. God never wastes a hurt, and He is faithful to work ALL things together for our good. You can follow her at nanaslovenotes.com.
Photograph © Jordan Whitt, used with permission