I Am Learning What All Full-time Working Moms Already Know

In the last couple of years, I have learned what all full-time working wives and mothers already know. I have learned to try to make the most of every moment. I used to have spare time to take my cat to the vet. Or pluck my eyebrows. Or read a book. No problem. Or grab lunch with a friend or go shopping for groceries or shoes. Now all of those things fit into my schedule only if I am really creative. Some things just don’t get done at all. (Stop staring at my eyebrows) And that just has to be okay. No one is offering me a “Good Housekeeping” award these days. Most days my house is passable, but it would rarely pass anyone’s white glove test. Who has white gloves these days, anyway?

But there are some things that must find their way into my busy schedule. Like those groceries. My husband and my kids still like to eat. And so do I. Trying to find time to get that dreaded job done has been a challenge. I’m not a fan of the task anyway. I usually give up sleeping in late on Saturday mornings to head to the local Wal-Mart to do the deed and beat the crowds. I am not a fan of Wal-Mart in general. I was going to say that I hate Wal-mart, but I decided that was really harsh language. I like to poke fun at the odd clientele that’s seen in Wal-Mart, but then I realize that at least once a week, that clientele includes me, so….

While some things must go undone, there must be a priority list of things that no matter my work schedule, cannot slide. I heard a sermon preached by Andy Stanley once where he essentially said,

Somebody is going to get cheated. Rarely can we meet everyone’s expectations every day. We commit to too many things. Someone is going to get cheated. Andy went on to say that if we must cheat someone, cheat our jobs. Cheat the PTA. Cheat the church (gasp). But do not cheat our families.

Andy is giving us permission to say no to some things in order to say yes to other things. In learning how to be a full-time working mom and wife, I have made the mistake of putting my job ahead of my family’s needs sometimes. It’s maybe okay to do that every once in a while, but when it becomes a regular thing, something’s got to give. My children, my husband, need to know if the chips are down, and even if they aren’t, I will choose them.

I can’t expect to come home from a long day of work, put my pajamas on and head for the couch every night. No, I come home, put my pajamas on, and head for the kitchen. I managed to fit grocery shopping in, now I must fit in some meal prep. I could sacrifice mealtime, but I don’t want to. It’s my favorite time with my family. What I do sacrifice is gourmet meals. Those who know me best know that this is not a real sacrifice for me. No one ever called me a gourmet cook. Honestly, no one ever called me any kind of a cook. But a quick and easy meal saves my feet, and gives me that treasured mealtime with my family.

I have precious little time with my kids. They are growing up and out from under me. Soon, my husband and I will be empty nesting. Just because I am working full time does not excuse me from pouring into their lives practically and spiritually. I stole this next idea from another person. (It’s okay to steal from someone if it means getting your kids to read the Bible.) Every morning, when I pull into a parking space at work, I stop, pull out my phone, pull up the One Year Bible and text a passage of Scripture to all four of my kids. I hope they are reading the Bible on their own, but in case they aren’t, they get a little nugget from me. It takes me about one minute to do that.

Recently, my thirteen year old was asked to share a verse and a word of encouragement to the other students during their prayer and worship service. I asked him what he was going to say, and he said he was going to share one of the verses I had sent him that had meant a lot to him. Whoohoo! Small investment, huge return

After I send my kids their passage for the day, I climb onto a shuttle that I ride for the next fifteen minutes or so to my building. I used to just pittle on my phone, catch up on Facebook or Twitter. That is until the Holy Spirit, through a friend, convicted me. Now, I use that time to do my own Bible reading. That fifteen minutes changes my whole day. I used to dread that shuttle ride, now I look forward to it.

I’d be lying if I said that I preferred working full time. I enjoy what I do, but it’s harder. It’s more of a challenge to find the time to do the things that should matter the most. But it’s teaching me some things, too. I am learning that my steps are ordered for me. That where I spend my days now is exactly where the Lord wants me to be, and that I was made for such a time as this. And I am learning, that with diligence, I can still keep the important things at the top of my list.

The Reputation of the Bride of Christ is on the Line

Living a life of full time Christian ministry has its quirks. There are those wonderfully fulfilling times, and those downright heartbreaking times. Matthew and I have lived through both extremes. Most days fall somewhere in the middle. In that regard, ministry is no different from any other life. Only it is. No other line of work has eternity at stake

Lately, I have listened to heartbreaking stories of young ministers who are making some unwise choices concerning the ministries they lead. These are young ministers who have garnered quite a bit of support and have enjoyed some early significant successes in ministry. They have skyrocketed to the top of their profession. Yay them. Only, it’s not supposed to be about them.

My husband has the distinct pleasure of teaching in the ministry school at our church. He is excited to teach the next generation of church leaders. These kids are eager and thrilled to change the world for the Kingdom of God. They look at these other young church leaders and they would love to have similar ministry opportunities. Who in ministry wouldn’t?

But these young pastors making poor choices are dangerously close to blowing it.

Why?

It’s mostly a matter of accountability. Success can change any person, and ministers are no exception. Success brings celebrity. Celebrity brings followers and fans. Adoring fans. Fans who desire proximity to celebrity. At some point the celebrity has to limit access to a precious few, and then the power struggles begin.

It happened to Jesus with the disciples. Remember when the disciples were arguing over who would have the better seat in heaven? (Luke 9) We scoff at them and think that was pretty ridiculous, but then, are we so different?

We are not. In a desire to gain access to these young successful pastors, followers and fans begin to stroke their egos, telling them how wonderful they are. They resist for a while, trying to hold onto humility, but pride is often the stronger attitude, and soon, it will win out. Rather than placing people close to them who will hold them accountable, they slowly bring in close those people who tell them how wonderful they are, and how jealous those naysayers are. In short, they begin to believe their own press. Jesus ceases to be the reason for their very lives. He stops being the focus. The Apostle Paul warns Timothy, a young pastor about this very thing. In 1Timothy, chapter 3 he tells him a pastor–

“not be a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (vs 6-7)

These young, vulnerable pastors have stopped listening to wise counsel altogether, and if something doesn’t change soon, they along with the ministry with which they have been entrusted, will fail.

The Bible teaches that we are to be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2), not even giving the impression that we are doing anything wrong. Should a pastor buy an expensive car or home, criticisms come quickly from outside and inside the church. I will never forget back when Matthew was pastoring churches, we had to choose carefully the cars we drove. It was true that other people cared more about what we drove than we did. It was frustrating, but we always chose to be conservative.

Defenders will say that a pastor has just as much right to drive an expensive car or live in a large home as the next person. In theory, that’s true. But in reality, ministers must always err on the side that protects the Bride of Christ from stains that can be flung at her because of the decisions made by church leaders.

If I had the ear of these young ministers, I would tell them that the best thing a minister can do is become transparent. They are to set an example. The Bible is clear that we are blessed to be a blessing, not to grow fat on our own good fortune. (2 Corinthians 9:8-11) If a minister earns a fortune through honest gain, he is more accountable regarding what he does with that gain than the average Joe. It may not seem fair, but it’s just the way it is. Ministers are called to a higher standard, a higher accountability.

Ministries must be transparent, too. The yearly budget, salaries and expenditures must not be held in secret. If there is nothing to hide, then there is nothing to hide. If a church or ministry cannot be proud of how they steward what they have, then it’s time to make some changes to how things are handled.

Ministers fail. It’s true. It happens. When ministers fail, they have their fifteen minutes of fame, and then they are forgotten. It is the church that suffers most when ministers fail. It is the Bride of Christ who will suffer from a tarnished reputation.

As I watch these stories unfold in the media, I am praying for these young men. I truly want them to succeed… correctly. At one point, they had a hunger for God. They had a desire to see His Kingdom here on earth expand. They preached truth with enthusiasm and the people responded… sometimes by the thousands. But they have begun to listen to unwise counsel. They have chosen bad counsel over wise, even when wise counsel was offered. Rather, they have had their ears tickled by followers and fans that must feed off of the celebrity that comes with success. It’s time for truth to prevail in the hearts and minds of these young ministers. Their lives are at stake, but it’s the church that will suffer the most if they fail. It is the Bride of Christ who will be left to repair her reputation.

I Gave Up Trying To Please God

I grew up in a great family. My parents were married. Still are. I had an older brother that teased me relentlessly, as older brothers are supposed to do. I annoyed him relentlessly, as younger sisters are supposed to do. My dad worked hard at his job and my mother mostly stayed home with us kids. Thanks, Mom..

My parents took me and my brother to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. We were some of the first to arrive and some of the last to leave each time. It’s where I first learned about God. Early on, in my young mind, I decided that it would be a good idea if the God of the universe, who made me and everything else, was pleased with me. As I grew up in church and learned more of His power and love, I began to want to please Him more and more.

I became a God pleaser. God would be pleased with me if I went to church. So I went to church. God would be pleased with me if I learned more about him, so in third grade, I collected books about him, and read them. I created my own mini-library in my room so He could see it and admire it. I knew He must be pleased with my collection. I learned that God wanted me to be an obedient child who honored her parents, so I tried to be that so that God would be pleased.

Everything I did in relation to God was so that He would be pleased with me. I wanted to make sure when I stood before Him one day, I would here those most desired words, “Well done, Stacey, my good and faithful servant. I am well pleased.”

At first glance, pleasing God sounds good, appropriate, and worthy. Living a life trying to please God sounds down right Christian. Only it’s a works based faith. Of course, the Bible does say that faith without works is dead in James, chapter 2. James even goes so far as to ask if can faith alone save anyone.

So those good works are important. But we don’t do good works so that God will be pleased with us. Here’s a bit of good news, God is ALREADY pleased with us. Even before we do those good works. And guess what. He will not be any more or less pleased with us because we do or do not do those good works.

Let that sink in for a minute.

If God loves us the same either way, whether we are busy feeding the poor, honoring our parents, loving our neighbors or not, then what is our motivation to do those things?

RELATIONSHIP.

We do not do those things to make God love us, we do those things because He already does.  When we recognize, truly, His great love for us those things we do become “get to” and not “have to” things we do. When we can more fully comprehend His great love for us, and His great sacrifice on our behalf, something changes within us. Our hearts are filled with gratitude and love and a desire to share that with those around us. Those things we used to do to make sure God still looked upon us with favor become and outpouring of His love for us. We can’t not do them.

When we stop trying to please God and start loving Him, those good works just come.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

It is our faith in the saving power of Jesus that saves us. Any additions to that, and we can work our way there, which completely discounts what Christ did for us on the cross and in the grave.

But Paul goes on in verse 10:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

So all these things we think we are coming up with to do to please God? He had them in mind a long time ago. You are where you are, when you are, doing those good things you are doing, right on schedule. The difference is in our motivation.

Are we motivated out of fear of losing His love? Or out of our great love for Him and what he did. The former is religion. The latter is relationship. The former is have to, and it is life sucking. The latter is get to, and it is life giving.

I gave up being a God pleaser. Because while I was still sinning, He died for me. Before I had done one thing pleasing in His sight, He suffered and died for me. He chose me. He made the first move. My picture never comes off His refrigerator.

Neither does yours.