The Real Purpose of Motherhood
When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I thought the right thing to do in preparation for his arrival was to pare down my life and shift my focus entirely to motherhood. I immersed myself in the minutiae of choosing the right eco-friendly diaper, the perfect shade of yellow for the baby’s nursery, the age-appropriate sets of clothes and accessories and baby gear. “This is what it means to be a good mother,” I thought. “You pour your life into your children.”
What I’ve learned in the decade since then is that yes, parents have a biblical calling to be the primary spiritual teachers for their children, as opposed to expecting their church to be that primary source as I discussed in last week’s post. But this doesn’t mean our children are to be our sole or primary focus. Yet time and time again, I hear women say that “motherhood is my highest calling” or something along those lines. And I have come to believe she is misguided when she says so.
Let me make this clear: I think that motherhood is a critical calling in a woman’s life. I do not mean to devalue motherhood one bit. I’m a largely stay-at-home, homeschooling mother myself, so obviously my kids are important to me. However, what I have learned the hard way is that when I place my identity as a mother ahead of my identity and calling as a child and ambassador of God, then I get confused about who I am and what I am supposed to do with my life.
Instead, we need to recognize that whether we are mothers or not, we share with all Christ-followers the same calling (to love and be in relationship with God, first and foremost) and the same mission (to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth and make disciples of all nations). This proper understanding of calling and mission gives us the right context within which to understand our role as mothers. I’m reading an incredibly powerful book right now, David Platt’s Radical. I’m three chapters in and I already feel so humbled and challenged. One of the things he writes is this:
“To disconnect God’s blessing from God’s global purpose is to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God’s grace….I wonder if we have in some ways intentionally and in other ways unknowingly erected lines of defense against the global purpose God has for our lives.”
In other words, whether you are a called to be a professional missionary or not, we are all commanded to do more than just receive God’s love and all the privileges, spiritual and otherwise, emanating from him. We are called to release that love to those around us, as near as our neighbors and as far as the ends of the earth. That mission starts at home, absolutely. But it by no means ends there.
When we turn our hearts and minds too far inwardly, we run the risk of becoming self-absorbed in our family life and missing out on how God desires to use us to build his Kingdom. So pouring your life into your children is not intended to be an end in and of itself. Instead, we invest in our kids so that they understand and embrace their calling (and yours) as God’s missionaries to a world that is hurting, suffering, and needing a Savior. That, ultimately, is the real purpose of motherhood.
What do you think about this perspective on motherhood and calling? Does it resonate with what you already think or do you disagree? I look forward to your thoughts!