Are my children my greatest calling as a mother? What about the poor? Using my gifts to serve the church? What about my passion to create? To exercise? To work?
How can we, as mothers, know what our greatest calling is? How can we prioritize our lives to live out our days faithfully?
Christian messages cheered me on to stay home full time, yet muffled the burning passion within me to serve the world beyond my kitchen sink. The cries of my children, the empty fridge needing groceries, the dust on the floors, the clothes in the wash – all whispering, “Forget your other dreams.” I thought that is what Christian moms do – put everything aside to focus in on our kids. But if that’s what Jesus wants for moms, why did I feel so sad?
Then the Lord and a woman changed my perspective.
Perpetua, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and a mother to a young son, lived at the turn of the third century in North Africa, where Christianity flourished. The emperor Septimius Severus decided to rid the land of Christians in support of devotion to Rome and not this other God, Jesus.
Perpetua and her friends faced a disastrous decision: worship the Roman gods or be thrown to the wild animals and put to death.
Yet Perpetua’s young son, still nursing, would be left without her. Was motherhood her greatest calling or was following Jesus? What would she choose?
In an emotional surrender, Perpetua entrusted her son to the Lord and offered herself to the wild animals in the arena of martyrdom, to then be finished off with the sword.
Perpetua chose Jesus.
Her life story taught me this lesson: Motherhood is not my greatest calling. Following Jesus is my greatest calling.
I know God led me home to serve my family in this young season of childhood and ministry, so for me naptime books and dinnertime broccoli is part of my greatest calling: following Jesus.
But He also put a passion in me for missions, women, writing and speaking. So, I will follow Him in that too as He leads – in His time, in His way.
Following Jesus may look different for each of us. The important question to ask is, Am I surrendered to Jesus and following Him, or following my own ideas of what is best?
If you are genuinely following Jesus, be free from the voices of expectation. Are you a working mom? Single mom? Home-schooling mom? Etsy-selling mom? Amazing-at-crafting-masterpieces-with-your-kids mom? No more shame. No more comparison or judgment. If you are honestly seeking the Lord to follow Him in this season of motherhood, you keep running the race He has for you!
Following Jesus is our greatest calling as mothers.
We might not face death like our sister-in-the-faith Perpetua, but we face many voices and pressures trying to capture our devotion instead of fully following Christ. Sometimes that distraction looks like the expectation we feel that “good” Christian moms must stay home and homeschool their children. So we homeschool when our gifts are best used other places for the kingdom.
Sometimes that distraction looks like the lure of “doing something with our lives” instead of serving in the shadows of a full-time homeschooling mom.
When we live in cultural expectations rather than following Christ, we are robbing His church, the world and eternity of what actually matters most: following Jesus.
Some of us (myself included) sometimes follow cultural Christianity instead of following Jesus.
Since meeting Perpetua in her story, I can no longer look at the homeschooling mom and think that she is the most godly and that I will never be able to measure up. Neither can I envy the career mom for her productivity and stand in amazement of “How does she do it?” No. Instead I pray for each, as I pray for myself and ask, “God, please help this mama follow and obey you more than anything else.”
Following Jesus is our greatest calling. As we follow Him our lives will bring God glory, no matter the challenges or triumphs.
Motherhood is not our greatest calling.
Ministry is not our greatest calling.
Working is not our greatest calling.
Following Jesus is our greatest calling.
Have you honestly asked God and listened to where He would lead you to use your time in this season of motherhood? If so, cheers! Celebrate where you are and walk in freedom.
Let’s follow Jesus more than we follow anything else.
Jesus gave us the picture of the cross as our image. To what extent do we follow Christ? To the extent of dying to ourselves to follow Him. Sometimes that looks like picking up a job to help provide for our family, quitting a job to stay home or saying no to being “room mom” to use our gifts in other ways that God wired us. With no guilt.
And then there are times when all our gifts are put aside for the moment and God leads us to serve in our weaknesses. Like when my son’s health problems required all my energy and creativity to care for him. Or cooking for my family day in and day out when the last thing I want is a spatula in my hand and meal plans to think through – dying to self for the sake of what is best for my family.
“Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26).
Are you willing to follow Jesus no matter the cost? I’m so grateful we will not be thrown to wild beasts and leave our infant children like Perpetua, but we all face decisions of sacrifice in our obedience.
Let’s follow Jesus and see where He leads us. Christian motherhood has many expressions of faithfulness. He will provide the strength, joy and passion when we die to ourselves and live for Him.
Facts on Perpetua’s story taken from Christianity Today online article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/martyrs/perpetua.html)