Generation Cedar

I knew a missionary named Cassie.

Cassie had prepared for the mission field her whole life. She was passionate about the gospel and had surrendered her life to the Great Commission– the ministry of discipleship.

It wasn’t easy for her. The demands of the mission field were hard on her body (she was kind of a frail person.). Sometimes just the long hours she labored in the heat–she didn’t have the luxury of air conditioning–took its toll on her. Sometimes she got sick but the people there needed her so she had to keep going.

Cassie she never flinched. Though her body was frail, she was strong. Her love for the Lord was unwavering, and it drove her on to minister to the people there, and she did it without complaining.

She and her husband suffered poverty, distress, hostility and sickness, none of which deterred them from their love and commitment to the people God had placed in their lives to minister to. They could see past the temporal hardship because what they were doing had eternal consequence. It WAS hard….but their love for God’s people drove them on.

Cassie is….a mom. The mission field I just described is her home. Those people she has devoted her life to are her children and her neighbors.

Is there something inside you that suddenly feels differently about Cassie than you did at first? Do you know why that is? Because you don’t think that what you do in your home is as important as what someone else is doing out there.

All of us are guilty of having grand, noble thoughts when we think of foreign missions or other organized ministries–and we should. We should. It’s a life of hard work and sacrifice–more than we will ever know, and more than Cassie will ever know– and we should be supporting missionaries who give their lives to the mission field.

But, we don’t give equal weight to the ministry of motherhood; another mission field where people are discipled, where the Great Commission is carried out daily. That’s the heart of the gospel–bringing souls to Him. And even if you understand the blessing and gift of children, you still don’t grasp the full weight of the ministry of this mission field that you’re in, and a failure to do so has grave consequences.

Well I can tell you that the world doesn’t see the importance of what you do either, but that’s not our business. We are in the business of pleasing God, not each other. Amen? And so I want to talk to YOU about your job. It doesn’t matter what other people think.

But it matters colossally, what you think.

Because listen: the pervading sense of non-importance the culture attaches to motherhood affects how you think about it and when we can’t see the importance of our job, we easily become frustrated and unhappy. And nothing affects our effectiveness or lack of, more than how we see our role.

Rachel Jankovic said:

“It is easy to think you have a heart for orphans on the other side of the world, but if you spend your time at home resenting the imposition your children are on you, you do not. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and a fussiness about your life at the same time…You cannot have a heart for missions, but not for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive.”

That convicts me so deeply. Does it you?

So many times we find ourselves feeling guilty for not doing enough and so there’s this pressure to participate in ministries outside of the full time mission we already have at home. And that can leave us stretched too thin to be an effective minister to our families.

Some of you sitting here are struggling with the thoughts that you aren’t doing enough.

And there are seasons for different women. There are times when a woman is freer to participate in things she may not be able to in the throes of motherhood. The ministry of home will naturally flow out to others around it, in due time.

But the church is not telling the mother in that busy season that she already has a mission field, that her job in this season is enough.

So I’m here to tell you that your mission field is enough.

A journalist once asked Mother Teresa, after all her years of missions work and after all of the hurt and brokenness she has seen, what is the one thing people can do to change the world.  Her answer?  “Go home, and love your family.”  

Because the world is changed one home at a time and a Jesus-lovin mama who gratefully embraces her mission field is a powerful catalyst for that change.

So why is the mission field of motherhood so overlooked? Wrong thinking–thinking that’s rooted in the flesh, that crept into the church and into our own thoughts. And it’s important that we understand this and work on dispelling the wrong ways we think about children and motherhood, and be able to give an answer. Because the truth is, since the thinking of the world has so infected the church, when you devote your life to the mission field of home, you aren’t going to be understood, sometimes even by other Christians.

So what are a few of the reasons–the wrong thinking that causes us to fail to see motherhood as a mission field?

  1. We’ve lost sight of the purpose of children and the way God views them. 

We need to understand God’s view of children, because it changes the way we live, the way we parent–it changes everything.

So if children are just a commodity, the way our culture often treats them, if they are simply an asset to me, or a liability as they are sometimes treated, something to fulfill my life, something I do because having children is the norm, that radically shapes my life choices.

But if I see children the way God sees them–godly seed to be raised up to glorify Him and advance the Kingdom of God, gifts given to me as a heritage of the Lord, over which I am to be a steward and of which I must give an account, that radically shapes my life choices.

  1. The second problem with our thinking is that our timetable is so different than God’s. In our “instant gratification” society, where world news is 5 seconds away, we grow impatient. And that impatience flows to the rest of our lives. We want to see results, even in ministry…especially in ministry. We want big numbers and we want them fast. Those are the ministries that look important to us.

Now certainly, throughout history, God has orchestrated times of mass conversion, but typically, from Scripture, that’s not how He’s chosen to do ministry.

In the 3 years Jesus was on earth, he had about 125 true converts at the end of his time.The Son of God, the perfect missionary. See God works over large spans of time and those seeds Jesus planted, they’re still growing, more than 2,000 years later. He didn’t fret about the small numbers or the time it took him to pour into other’s lives, because He worked on God’s time-table. He never measured success by numbers. And he was content to do the next thing, even if he couldn’t see the results, because He knew God would fulfill his purposes.

One of a mother’s greatest needs is long-term vision. We absolutely have to have faith in the harvest that God will bring IN HIS TIME. We will plant seeds that we will never see come to fruition. You’re not going to see some of your great grand children, but we’re living now for them. And that’s OK because it’s not about us and our results.

3. Another big problem is that even though we hear it from the pulpit, we read about and think it’s great, we mostly don’t apply it to real life. And that’s the idea of living in absolute humility–we talk about it, but it’s hard to live out. True humility is to be content with God’s favor, losing our lives to save them, focused on eternity and being OK if we never receive any recognition of man.

There was a lot in that sentence. Do you know the peace we could have if we learned to live the kind of life Jesus lived, with His face set like flint, oblivious to the opinions of others, just being about His Father’s business?

What is the mission field?

It’s where we live out the Great Commission. It’s where discipleship happens. And mom there is no mission field riper than your home. God has hand-picked you to raise the disciples in your home. We can’t treat that lightly.

Now am I saying that there is no room for any ministry outside our family, that our children should never see us reach out beyond our homes? Actually, quite the opposite. The mission field of home encompasses those around us, and it should come quite naturally for our lives to be a living example of readiness and willingness to minister to those God puts in our paths. 

Thinking about my example of Cassie, let’s stop categorizing “important” missions, but failing to see the abundant mission field right here in the everyday, where Jesus urged us to be faithful.

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13 Responses

  1. Thank you for the encouragement. Every once in a while, I realize the truth of my “mission field”. But, since very few agree that it is a mission field, I quickly forget again. I need to figure out a way to be reminded daily that motherhood and home are my mission fields, then church, etc. It’s so easy to put things out of order based on what others think is important, instead of what God says is important.

      1. Yes! I actually got it a few years ago. Wonderful devotional! I need to pull it out and go through it again. =) Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Thank you! This is so beautiful and timely. For me it has been a constant battle of fighting how the world views motherhood. It perplexes me that so many view a focus on raising children a meaningless position. I am thankful that God has shown me the importance and beauty of raising up the next generation, but I still need reminded often.

    1. It is a battle, Charity. But praise God He equips us for that battle! For me, the battle is so much easier when I just take my eyes off opinions of the world, and keep them focused on Jesus.

  3. There are so many truths in this post. People in full time ministry are often indoctrinated to believe that our priorities should be God, ministry, and then family. I am grateful that in the past few years, God has taught our family to put things straight and serve God, family and then minister to others from those strengths. Truly our mission field at home is abundant, and when we love our children as the treasures they are, they will turn around and cherish others all the more. We’re training up and equipping our own band of missionaries. Keep planting seeds and trust God to bring the harvest in His time. Thank you for sharing this encouraging wisdom.

  4. When I was a young Christian, I understood full-time Christian service to be the epitome of obedience and so I tried and tried to get into Christian work. But God sent me to the business world. And now home. And I’ve learned that the hardest obedience is NOT doing what you are NOT supposed to do. Our very Western mindset wants to go out and conquer, but if God is telling me to stay home, going out would be sin.

    Great post! Thanks.

  5. Our family reads a lot of missionary biographies and it’s true how easy it is to think that we mothers (especially here in N.A. with our lives of comfort) have done little to contribute to the Great Commission. But you are so right that our understanding is skewed, be it from the church or even just our own willingness to entertain Satan’s lies.

    My oldest is 11, but even in these short years I have observed that wearing myself out to reach the outside has mostly done damage to what God has placed within my home. It seems so noble to reach the masses because we all want recognition.

    Kelly, what do you think then about the many missionaries who dedicated their lives to the foreign fields and left their kids behind or placed them in boarding schools? I really wrestle with this knowing God’s calling may look different for each family. I know we should be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, but I wonder why would He bless us with children, only for these children to be left in someone else’s care (and I’m not talking about teenagers, but toddlers even). I’m probably opening a can of worms here. 🙂 I was left in a boarding school and while I don’t have bitterness towards my parents, now that I have my own kids, I just can’t imagine doing that!

    Thanks for encouraging us to take pleasure and be confident in our mission field to our children.

    1. D,

      I think it’s tragic and I think certainly people are blind to think that the responsibility of raising their children can be displaced for the ministry of others. It’s always an outworking. We can evangelize the world, through many mediums, but never to the the neglect of our first ministry of home.

  6. I can relate to the feeling of wanting to “do more” for God’s kingdom. I have held strong though to the belief that my family comes first. When I have a ministry opportunity and it doesn’t fit in well with the dynamics of our family at the time, I say no thank you. Some people don’t understand it, but I do. I understand that I will give account one day to the mission field God called me to. Was I faithful?

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