The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home and in the World

The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home and in the World

by Helen Lee
     
 

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We all must seek to be missional in our life journey.  Today's Christian moms come from a full range of personal and professional context, whether they are homemakers, full-time in the marketplace, or somewhere in between.  These moms artfully, passionately, sometimes messily, juggle multiple callings and demonstrate in their modern day contexts how they

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Overview

We all must seek to be missional in our life journey.  Today's Christian moms come from a full range of personal and professional context, whether they are homemakers, full-time in the marketplace, or somewhere in between.  These moms artfully, passionately, sometimes messily, juggle multiple callings and demonstrate in their modern day contexts how they are emulating the woman of noble character in Proverbs 31. 

The Missional Mom will affirm mothers who desire to not only to build their homes in a Christ-like way, but engage the world with their skills, abilities, and interests.  It won't minimize the importance of a woman's role in her home but it will encourage her to not ignore the stirrings God has planted within her to extend her influence

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"My mother was missional before anyone used the word, but I'm glad Helen Lee has described what mothers have done, are doing and will be doing with this word. This book is informed, laced together with timely and practical stories; the book is biblical and theological -- in other words, this book is a potent mixture that sketches radical, kingdom motherhood".- Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

"Helen is exactly the kick in the pants I need as a mom. Just when I start to feel comfortable, settled, and dare I say stuck in my little life, Helen Lee comes along to remind me that I was created to be part of what God is doing in the world and I need to sit up and pay attention. By casting a vision of motherhood that includes little details of family life and the big picture of global injustice and suffering, Helen gives moms the encouragement we need to follow God wherever God might lead us". - Carla Barnhill, author of The Myth of the Perfect Mother, co-founder of themommyrevolution.com

“Helen Lee is not only a missional mom, she also is a clear and incisive writer. I’m not a mom, but as a Christian and a dad, I found myself marveling and motivated as I read this book. Now THIS is living!” - Marshall Shelley, editor Leadership Journal

"If you have ever felt your role as a mother is a forgotten one without purpose, this book is for you. The Missional Mom brims with practical examples of modern day heroes who are using their God-given roles as mothers to change the world. Helen Lee inspires all of us, whether or not we work outside the home, to think about how we can teach our children to become kingdom warriors and make a meaningful difference in the world. You will be inspired, challenged and energized to make your home a place of love and service to others. Don’t underestimate the power of women, especially the power of a cadre of mothers, who manage their homes as missional outposts for kingdom work."  -- Arloa Sutter, executive director, Breakthrough Urban Ministries

"I’ve known Helen for nearly two decades. I’ve always been impressed with her insights and reflections. She is a great learner, observer and writer. I’m glad she wrote a book for all of us to be inspired and moved to action! The Missional Mom is a book that challenges us (not just moms!) to embrace radical, counter-cultural followership especially within the environment of our homes. The wonder years of growing families shouldn’t be seen as a time we check out of following God. This is the time we’re in the thick of some of the most intense miraculous, spiritual activities (painful and joyful) of our lives both with God, our spouses, children and others. Helen stirs our imagination to go deeper into who we are called to be in our homes and beyond. She gently calls us out to be unafraid in pursuing purposeful living in practical ways." - Dave Gibbons, author of Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third Culture Church  and XEALOTS: Defying the Gravity of Normality (release date in 2011)

"The Missional Mom is a treat for any mom who believes that God has called her to serve beyond the reaches of motherhood. Helen shows us how we can at once be wonderful, loving moms while also serving our wonderful, loving God using the vast and divergent passions and gifts He's given us."-- Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira, author of Mama's Got a Fake I.D. and co-founder of The Mommy Revolution blog

"We are both convinced that in order to unleash the world transforming power of missional Christianity we are going to need to learn a whole lot more from women. As Helen states, "Women have been the secret weapon in the church since the beginning of its existence, contributing significantly to the progress the church has made in the world." This is an undisputed fact! We look forward to a time when men and women are released to be all they can be in God for the sake of his Kingdom. Helen's book is a wonderful gift to all of us." --Alan and Debra Hirsch, authors of Untamed - Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship.

.
"It is easy to understand why moms might lose sight of the purpose and meaning for their lives when life is going by at such a frightening speed. This is a book that reminds women of the adventure of missional living (amidst the daily grind) that God is calling all of us to". - Michael Wallenmeyer,  Missional in Suburbia

"Helen Lee has presented moms and families with a great gift in The Missional Mom. It is a great resource to help women understand and implement a missional life."  - Ed Stetzer, coauthor of Transformational Church

"There is no sphere of human life which cannot find its true end in God’s Mission. Helen Lee, in engaging yet powerful prose, helps us see what this might mean for mothers. Under her careful guidance, we see how the rhythms and struggles of being a mom become subsumed by God’s sovereign purposes for the redemption of the world. I encourage us all who have families (not just moms!) to read this book!" - David Fitch, Reclaimingthemission.com, B R Lindner Chair Evangelical Theology Northern Seminary

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802437860
Publisher:
Moody Publishers
Publication date:
12/17/2010
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

the missional mom

LIVING WITH PURPOSE AT HOME & IN THE WORLD
By HELEN LEE

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2011 Helen Lee
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8024-3786-0


Chapter One

The Missional Mom Embraces the Call of Her Missional God

God's call is often demanding. It will require sacrifice of some kind, and possibly some hardship. But it will result in meaning and purpose. You can be sure of that. OS GUINNESS

I confess I always had a hankering for musically gifted men. I fell for my future husband when I attended his junior-year recital in college and heard him thunder away at the Brahms Piano Sonata No. 3 with both precision and flair. Fast-forward fifteen years and three kids, and you can probably picture the environment in our house of music lovers. Our boys have been surrounded since before birth by the sounds of everything from Liszt to Motown to Van Halen. And now our kids are at an age to make their own music as budding instrumentalists. One day I was trying to help one of our sons with his new violin piece, a short concerto by Arcangelo Corelli. For the first time, his part was more of a supportive role and did not carry the main melody line. Having been used to a long list of easily hummable children's Suzuki songs, my son was stymied by this piece with no easily recognizable melody. He tried in vain to practice, but I could tell his interest was flagging and his frustration was mounting as he repeatedly fumed, "I just don't get it!"

Thankfully, we had the DVD of his violin school's previous year's concert, and together we watched a performance of the piece he was struggling with. I could see, almost instantly, the difference hearing the whole concerto made. When my son heard the entire song and saw the groups of children playing their distinct parts, some of which he hadn't even known existed, he was able to understand how his particular part fit with theirs. Listening to the performance gave him the full picture of what the concerto would ultimately sound like, and he was much more motivated to work on his part as a result. Before that, just uttering the words "Corelli concerto" would stress out my son. Today, this former nemesis has become a source of joy for him.

We all need to see the big picture of how what we are doing matters. When we don't understand how our efforts make a difference in a tangible way, we can become frustrated and anxious. God has given each human being a purpose and calling in life, and so it is natural to want to know our lives matter in the grand scheme. One of the cruel punishments Nazi soldiers inflicted on imprisoned Jews was to sentence them to forced labor with no discernible purpose or outcome, such as hauling heavy rocks back and forth all day. The punishment was less physical than it was mental. The same principle operates for us: the more we feel as though our actions and labors are irrelevant, the more despairing and hopeless we can become. As in the New York magazine article "All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting," today's mothers can often reflect that sense of purposelessness and despair in their lives.

Why aren't today's women, Christian or otherwise, discovering more joy and fulfillment in their journey as mothers? Perhaps we have a hard time when we don't understand our life calling and how our contributions make a difference in the larger picture of what God is doing in the world. Perhaps we need to see that bigger picture, just as my son needed to hear the whole concerto, so we can press forward with hope, excitement, and conviction. God has given each of us a piece to play, a melody to fit into the overall redemptive symphony He is writing in the world today. Our job is to discern what our piece is and then to play it with as much skill and passion as we can muster.

So moms need to explore the idea of calling and understand both the specific part God has given them and also how the melody of motherhood fits into the grand symphony of God's work. And as you'll soon see, the life God is intending for you may be different from what you imagine a Christian mother's calling is supposed to be.

THE CHRISTIAN CALLING

To talk about calling, we must start from the beginning and delve into question of calling for every Christian. Each and every person who is a follower of Jesus shares the same calling, which at the core is not something to do but a Person to know: our calling as children of God is to know Him, first and foremost. As Os Guinness writes, "It's not about you. It's about the One who calls you." Our primary calling is to be with God, to immerse ourselves in His immeasurable love and grace. Everything else flows out of this connection, which is our absolute number one priority.

Christians can accept and gloss over this concept too quickly. Moms, in particular, are busy, busy people; we just assume that being with God is a reality in our lives. But give the idea another look: Our primary calling is to be with God. The most important word in that sentence is "with," something I learned anew thanks to a recent sermon I heard by Skye Jethani, managing editor of Leadership Journal. Jethani said, "Our central calling is to be with God, not to do things for God," which he feels is a misconception evangelical Christians often hold. He tells the following story about his experiences working with Wheaton College students as they asked questions about the topic of calling:

I've been doing a ministry with a group of Wheaton College students, and they're great students, great kids ... But they've had it drilled in them that they are the cream of the crop, the most educated and resourced Christians in the world. So when they come close to graduation, they start flipping out on me. They ask, "What path do I take? I want to go be in that place where I will experience fullness of the Christian calling." They're so consumed with what's on the horizon that they forget they're called to live with Christ right where they are.

It can be easy for all Christians to start thinking that there are things we must "do" for God in order to live more missionally, and I will in fact offer many suggestions along these lines. But the goal of doing things for God is a dangerous one unless we place it in proper context. The primary calling for Christians is to be with God, in whatever circumstances He has placed us. As we reside in those circumstances with Him, it becomes clearer how we are to serve God in those circumstances. Doing things for God becomes an outflow of our connectedness with Him.

As an example, Jethani discusses the scene in Act 16 in which the apostle Paul and his companion Silas were arrested and thrown into prison after being severely beaten. Paul and Silas were "praying and singing hymns to God." They were in the Lord's presence, very much with God, so much so that when the earthquake came, their chains were loosened, and the prison doors fell down, Paul and Silas did not choose to escape but remained. Their example of being with God in such a connected way moved the heart of the jailer, who then brought Paul and Silas to his house. Their encounter resulted in the baptism of the guard and everyone else in the household. An entire family was saved due to Paul and Silas's connection with God, despite the difficult circumstances they were in. They never forgot their main calling, to be with God, which subsequently had an impact on the lives around them.

Being with God constitutes the first part of the primary calling God has for all Christ-followers. The second part of that call flows naturally from the first, expressed in the Great Commandments Jesus gives in Matthew 22:37-40: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments? As we remain with God, as we love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, He leads us to the second part of the calling. The apostle John also addresses this Christian call to love God and love our neighbors: "We love because He first loved us," John writes. "If anyone says 'I love God; yet hates his brother, he is a liar ... Whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 John 4:19-21). Loving others is not something we do out of obligation but as a natural response to the love that God has shown for us.

A simple but memorable illustration regarding loving others has stuck with me for decades. I call it the "cup analogy." As God fills our cup with His love, it overflows and spills out from us onto others. Loving our neighbors is the natural outpouring that results from being with God as we pursue Him as our central calling.

While the Great Commandments describe our ultimate calling, the Great Commission as stated in Matthew 28:19, in combination with Jesus' final instructions in Acts 1:8, tells us how we are to live out this calling. Jesus gives us our mission, which is twofold:

* "Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

* "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).

This twofold mission reflects what God wants to do in and through His people. Throughout history, God has shown Himself to be proactive. He creates the world out of nothing; He fashions humankind out of His own image, and then, when clearly His people need a Savior, God sends His own Son to be the solution. Our God is by no means a passive God, who stays far removed from His creation. What has changed since He sent Jesus, however, are His methods. Now He intervenes in the world through His people, embodied in the church and empowered by His Holy Spirit, as we act as His hands and feet in a fallen and broken world. God's end goal is clear: the redemption of all of creation, as we see depicted in Revelation. But God's methods now involve inviting Christ-followers to participate with Him to bring His love, hope, and healing to those who need it. Through Jesus, God has shown us how He has taken the initiative in the lives of all humanity and also how we are to take the initiative in the lives of the people around us.

So our God is a God on a mission. He is on a mission to redeem all of Creation; our God is a missional God. In what seems like an incredible plan, He invites us to partner with Him in this mission. Despite our flaws, despite our weaknesses—or perhaps more accurately, because of our flaws and because of our weaknesses—we are called to bear witness to what Christ has done for us and bring that Good News to anyone and everyone, making disciples. As God has been missional in reaching out to us, so must we be missional in reaching out to others. Every one of us is, in fact, a missionary sent by God, loved and empowered by Him to do His will.

Missionaries are not just specially selected people who spread the gospel in distant lands. You are a missionary, in whatever context God has placed you, with whatever gifts He has given you. Your mission is to be His witness and disciple-maker wherever you live and move and have your being. This mission does not change when you become a mother.

THE BIG DISCONNECT

On the one hand, it's absolutely and necessarily true that once children come into our home, our lives change dramatically. We have to spend most of our waking (and many of our sleeping!) hours caring for our children, who arrive completely or largely dependent on their parents for all of their basic needs. But, although the circumstances of our lives change when we become parents, our calling remains the same. We are still primarily called to know and love God, then love our neighbors as an outflow of that relationship. Our mission remains to "bear witness" and "make disciples," both activities requiring our continuing participation in the world. The calling and mission God has for us remains unchanged once we become wives and mothers.

What I have seen time and time again, in my friends' lives, in my own life, and in the lives of countless others reflected in the Christian and secular media, is that we mothers often forget how motherhood intersects with the bigger picture of our primary calling and mission. Sometimes we replace our primary calling and mission by saying, "Motherhood is my highest calling" or "Motherhood is my primary mission." When a secondary call displaces a primary one, the confusion begins.

Secondary calls, as Os Guinness explains, are the specific ways we live out the primary call to love and know God. Secondary calls vary from person to person; one woman is called to homemaking, for example, while another is called to law or teaching or medicine or a whole host of other options. But, as Guinness writes, "these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are 'callings' rather than the 'calling' ... secondary callings matter but only because the primary calling matters most."

Our lives are full of secondary callings, and being a mother is just one of those secondary callings. In addition to being a mother, I am a wife; I am a daughter; I am a sister; I am a friend; I am an aunt. I am a writer, a member of my church's mercy and justice ministry, a homeschooling parent. If you make a list, your secondary callings will likely look different from mine. We each have an individual set of secondary callings, some of which change over time. Motherhood certainly does not look the same when our children are young compared with when they are in college or beyond. In various seasons of our lives, we may only focus on a few of these callings, and other times we'll focus on others. But none of these secondary callings are more important than the unchanging primary calling—not even motherhood.

I do not mean to devalue motherhood in the least. Motherhood is a critical secondary calling for those of us who have been given the privilege of playing that role in a child's life. But we always need to put our role as mothers in the right context and never prioritize our secondary calling as a mother over our primary calling to know and love God.

God's mission gives us the direction we need to live our lives with the right priority. Motherhood does not provide us with the direction we need to go. If it did, I doubt we would see the proliferation of articles and books about the hardships of motherhood that flood the market today. On the contrary, making motherhood your primary mission could potentially backfire and give your children the wrong message about what our essential life priority is meant to be. But God's mission informs and guides us in all the secondary callings of our lives—motherhood, vocational paths, or our relational roles. As we pursue God's mission in our lives—bearing witness to what Christ has done for us, making disciples here and around the world—we are able to see how He can use our secondary callings as channels through which His primary mission will be accomplished.

What this means is that every role, every job, every activity, every person you encounter presents an opportunity to live out God's primary mission for you, to bear witness to what Christ has done and to make disciples. Whether you are in a vocational setting, a school volunteer committee, at the grocery store or school music rehearsal, or a neighborhood playgroup, you have the chance to do God's work—in other words, to be missional. Sometimes, we get stuck trying to figure out what we are supposed to do with our lives, when all we have to do is pursue God's mission with intentionality right where we already are.

YOUR HOME AS A MISSIONAL OUTPOST

How then should we think about motherhood? One way to adopt a missional perspective is to think of as our homes as "missional outposts." Home is a place where you are nurturing and training the next generation of missional Christians, who will ultimately pursue God's purposes in their own lives. It's the place to give you inspiration and direction, as you seek with your family to discover how God wants to use each of you in His grand mission. Rodney Clapp, author of Families at the Crossroads, says that "Christians in our society must retrain themselves to see faith as no less public than private.... In a real sense, and like the homes of the New Testament church, our houses must go public. Our call is to live not in private havens or retreats, but in mission bases."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from the missional mom by HELEN LEE Copyright © 2011 by Helen Lee. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"My mother was missional before anyone used the word, but I'm glad Helen Lee has described what mothers have done, are doing and will be doing with this word. This book is informed, laced together with timely and practical stories; the book is biblical and theological -- in other words, this book is a potent mixture that sketches radical, kingdom motherhood".- Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

"Helen is exactly the kick in the pants I need as a mom. Just when I start to feel comfortable, settled, and dare I say stuck in my little life, Helen Lee comes along to remind me that I was created to be part of what God is doing in the world and I need to sit up and pay attention. By casting a vision of motherhood that includes little details of family life and the big picture of global injustice and suffering, Helen gives moms the encouragement we need to follow God wherever God might lead us". - Carla Barnhill, author of The Myth of the Perfect Mother, co-founder of themommyrevolution.com

"Helen Lee is not only a missional mom, she also is a clear and incisive writer. I'm not a mom, but as a Christian and a dad, I found myself marveling and motivated as I read this book. Now THIS is living!" - Marshall Shelley, editor Leadership Journal

"If you have ever felt your role as a mother is a forgotten one without purpose, this book is for you. The Missional Mom brims with practical examples of modern day heroes who are using their God-given roles as mothers to change the world. Helen Lee inspires all of us, whether or not we work outside the home, to think about how we can teach our children to become kingdom warriors and make a meaningful difference in the world. You will be inspired, challenged and energized to make your home a place of love and service to others. Don't underestimate the power of women, especially the power of a cadre of mothers, who manage their homes as missional outposts for kingdom work."  -- Arloa Sutter, executive director, Breakthrough Urban Ministries

"I've known Helen for nearly two decades. I've always been impressed with her insights and reflections. She is a great learner, observer and writer. I'm glad she wrote a book for all of us to be inspired and moved to action! The Missional Mom is a book that challenges us (not just moms!) to embrace radical, counter-cultural followership especially within the environment of our homes. The wonder years of growing families shouldn't be seen as a time we check out of following God. This is the time we're in the thick of some of the most intense miraculous, spiritual activities (painful and joyful) of our lives both with God, our spouses, children and others. Helen stirs our imagination to go deeper into who we are called to be in our homes and beyond. She gently calls us out to be unafraid in pursuing purposeful living in practical ways." - Dave Gibbons, author of Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third Culture Church  and XEALOTS: Defying the Gravity of Normality (release date in 2011)

"The Missional Mom is a treat for any mom who believes that God has called her to serve beyond the reaches of motherhood. Helen shows us how we can at once be wonderful, loving moms while also serving our wonderful, loving God using the vast and divergent passions and gifts He's given us."-- Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira, author of Mama's Got a Fake I.D. and co-founder of The Mommy Revolution blog

"We are both convinced that in order to unleash the world transforming power of missional Christianity we are going to need to learn a whole lot more from women. As Helen states, "Women have been the secret weapon in the church since the beginning of its existence, contributing significantly to the progress the church has made in the world." This is an undisputed fact! We look forward to a time when men and women are released to be all they can be in God for the sake of his Kingdom. Helen's book is a wonderful gift to all of us." --Alan and Debra Hirsch, authors of Untamed - Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship.

.
"It is easy to understand why moms might lose sight of the purpose and meaning for their lives when life is going by at such a frightening speed. This is a book that reminds women of the adventure of missional living (amidst the daily grind) that God is calling all of us to". - Michael Wallenmeyer,  Missional in Suburbia

"Helen Lee has presented moms and families with a great gift in The Missional Mom. It is a great resource to help women understand and implement a missional life."  - Ed Stetzer, coauthor of Transformational Church

"There is no sphere of human life which cannot find its true end in God's Mission. Helen Lee, in engaging yet powerful prose, helps us see what this might mean for mothers. Under her careful guidance, we see how the rhythms and struggles of being a mom become subsumed by God's sovereign purposes for the redemption of the world. I encourage us all who have families (not just moms!) to read this book!" - David Fitch, Reclaimingthemission.com, B R Lindner Chair Evangelical Theology Northern Seminary

 

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