By Allie Silbernagel, Bethel Seminary St. Paul
The current culture that our society perpetuates is one of greed in one form or another. You only have to join one “mommy group” to see greed rear its ugly head. Greed is disguised under people validating their purchases because they love and care about their children. Then judging those women who don’t fall in line and comply with their lifestyle.
This view is perfectly depicted by Tom Nelson in the book Work Matters. He says, “We can erroneously view our work as really no big deal. When work is distorted, we easily make leisure an idol and become a slothful person,” (Nelson, 43). As stay-at-home-mothers work is depicted as just doing what is expected of them and not putting any spiritual value on it, sin can run rampant.
I know this because I am guilty of it. I feel like I am on a never ending carousel and not the fun kind with horses that go up and down. No, I am on a carousel of never-ending laundry, bickering fights over the same toy, and wiping up spills that I feel like I have already cleaned one hundred and fifty-three times. It is easy to look at leisure as an idol when you feel like the work, that is ceaseless, doesn’t hold any value other than making sure your house isn’t condemned. Not only that but if the churches aren’t speaking on it the intrinsic spiritual value of stay at home mom’s work then who is dictating the moral compass of those women’s lives? Society is.
What if not just the routine modes of praise were talked about and exalted? As Tim Keller points out in his book Every Good Endeavor, “You can praise the Lord by peeling a spud, if you peel it to perfection,” (Keller 2012, 71). What an idea to be presented with! This massive group of women need validation that what they are doing is really contributing to the kingdom. With a mindset that even peeling potatoes, you are doing the work in honor of God, is accomplishing that task I wonder what that would begin to do in their lives and that of their children.
Keller also notes that, “One of the main ways that you love others in your work is through the “ministry of competence. If God’s purpose for your job is that you serve the human community, then the way to serve God best is to do the job as well as it can be done,” (Keller, 67). I mean, technically, children are human, and goodness knows even if there is only two they can feel like a whole community. I am left pondering, since there is information lacking out there and sermons woefully missing on the subject, I can only speculate on what that would look like in practice for ministry to address this particular vocation in that way.
I love the illustration in Work Matters where Nelson talks about the masons, “‘What are you doing?’ The visitor asked the first mason. ‘I am cutting stone,’ the mason replied. A second mason chimed in, ‘I am making a living,’ ‘And how about you?’ the visitor asked the third mason. ‘Me, I’m building a cathedral for God and his people.’ What a difference our perspective on work makes!” (Nelson, 27). When I read this I thought, “Man I wish I thought of everything like the third mason.” I don’t think that it is just that easy. I think it was a lot of work getting to the point that everything that you do is directly for God and to honor God.
As we are looking at the positive implications that this kind of mindset will have on the economy, specifically if a stay-at-home-mom adopts that kind of mindset, I have to wonder how they would work differently. Would the daily drudgery seem less menial? When approaching tasks as though you are on a mission from God wouldn’t that just naturally spill out of you and touch every person that you meet? If that is the case I have to conclude that the impact on the economy would be one of spreading fore tastes of the kingdom, that can lead to seeds of faith being plants, nurtured and growing Christ’s mission.
In closing I want to quote John Piper out of Work Matters, “Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ- to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work,” (Nelson, 131).
Keller, Timothy. 2012. Every Good Endeavor Penguin Group US. http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=711296.
Nelson, Tom. 2011. Work Matters. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway.