- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
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. Numerous Christian mothers are living missional lives, using their gifts and abilities to further God's kingdom by engaging the world around them. They artfully, passionately, sometimes messily, juggle multiple callings and demonstrate in their modern day contexts how they are emulating the ...
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. Numerous Christian mothers are living missional lives, using their gifts and abilities to further God's kingdom by engaging the world around them. They 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 Christian 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.
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.
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.
OUR GOD IS A MISSIONAL GOD
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."
So our goal as mothers is not to invest in family life as an end unto itself. That would be like my son pouring effort into his solitary part and isolating himself from the rest of the orchestra. Instead, we invest in our children to help them see the big picture, the greater purpose to which God is calling our sons and daughters. We strive to train our children with the purpose of preparing them to accept their own calling to be God's missionaries in whatever way He intends. That is missional motherhood. It's about helping your children recognize and play their God-composed songs and to understand how they are participating in the larger symphony He is conducting today.
Let's go back to my son, the violinist. When I help him learn his scales and pieces, my goal is not for him to become an excellent violinist for his own glory—and not even for him to get into a good college one day. My object is to help him develop a talent and a gift to be used for God's purposes. I tell him that the reason we practice is so we keep investing in our gifts as the Bible calls us to do, so that God can use our talents to serve and love others. I am training him to be a missionary in whatever way God intends—and these opportunities can come fairly early in your child's life if you encourage them.
Excerpted from The Missional Mom by Helen Lee, Annette LaPlaca. Copyright © 2011 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.
Introduction: The Missional Mom? A New Paradigm for Christian Motherhood
Chapter One: The Missional Mom Understands Her Identity and Calling
Chapter Two: The Missional Mom Understands Her Cultural Context
Chapter Three: The Missional Mom Resists the Status Quo
Chapter Four: The Missional Mom Confronts the Realities of Life
Chapter Five: The Missional Mom Lives With Outward Focus
Chapter Six: The Missional Mom Cares for "The Least of These"
Chapter Seven: The Missional Mom Pursues Racial Reconciliation
Chapter Eight: The Missional Mom Creates Culture
Chapter Nine: The Missional Mom Strives to Raise Missional Kids
Chapter Ten: The Missional Mom Participates In Missional Communities
Chapter Eleven: How Churches Can Encourage Moms to be Missional
Conclusion/Epilogue: A Missional Mom Is Born
Posted May 22, 2011
Do you ever wonder if This is it? Is the sole purpose of your existence to care for your children, nurture them, lead them to Christ, and prepare them for adulthood? And when they are adults.then what?
In her book The Missional Mom, author Helen Lee shares with us that Jesus' Great Commission did not end when we became mothers. Our job, first and foremost, is to fulfil the Great Commission as Jesus commanded. Yes, we can obey Christ and still be great mothers. She shows us how with a lot of prayer and a bit of creativity, we can do both!
In eleven chapters Helen Lee shares that The Missional Mom ..
?embraces the call of her missional God. Instead of doing things for God, we need to begin doing things with God.
?resists cultural pressures. She shares personal stories of the changes in children when removed from consumer communities into communities of need. Instead of reaching for more, they began to give away.
?is a cultural rebel. Are you living sacrificially?
?engages in the needs of the world. The author shares many ways to join groups or organizations that are meeting needs and sharing the gospel around the world. Many can accomplish much.
?doesn't do evangelism. A Missional Mom lives what she believes, she does not need to preach it.
?loves the least of these. Are you quick to reach out to those in need in your world? Look for opportunities on your block, neighborhood, and town.
?is third-cultural. Are you learning about other cultures so that you might share Christ in a way and can relate to their way of living?
?creates missional families. Missional Moms are raising up mission minded children. My favorite story is located in this chapter. A child had a birthday party. All of the children were asked to bring a donation, whatever they could afford, instead of a present. The children looked through World Vision catalogs and chose ways to help others around the world.
?is a culture-maker. Blogging, writing, investing and many other ways to be a missional mom are mentioned in this chapter.
?needs missional community. We need people in our lives who have the same goals and fire to be a follower of Christ Mom.
?surrenders all. If we trust God, we sometimes have to take a leap of faith into the unknown, believing that His path is ready for us to walk with Him. A Missional Mom is a lifestyle, a committment, a openess to ask God, What is the mission You have for me?
Helen Lee offers many examples and advice from other mothers who have traveled this journey. The path is not the same for every woman. God does not call us to the same purpose. She encourages us to use the gifts and skills we have as ways to share the salvation message and reach out to a world that does not know Christ. Helen Lee's desire was that this book spur us on to missional living, for God's glory and purposes.
I wish I had this book when we adopted our sons. There were many times when I felt that I was (just) a home school mom. This book was such an encouragement to me. Although we all can be doing more, there are many of us who are already Missional Moms! If you are reaching out to your community, if you are blessing the needy at home and abroad, if you are mothering the homeless, then you are a Missional Mom. You will want to add this book to your daily devotional.
Posted April 5, 2011
The Missional Mom by Helen Lee is a new way of looking at motherhood and faith in the emergent faith of the 21st century. Lee has interviewed several mothers who have taken steps to live out their faith in very real ways, by moving into disadvantaged communities and making it their home, by traveling to other countries to minister to the needs of the poor, by adopting children from other countries to make their homes more open and welcoming, by opening their homes to strangers in need of hospitality, and many other ways. Each woman has listened to God's love in their hearts and are changing the world around them, as well as how their children view Christianity. Lee lays out the reasoning and Scripture to support these occasionally radical actions in a way that will inspire readers to stretch their own resources and hearts to meet the needs of their own community. Lee's writing is very conversational and friendly, but you can sense her excitement and devotion to the cause. She wants to win readers over to this way of thinking, because mothers often have far more influence than they perceive. She offers realistic advice for readers to implement their own change, but her primary encouragement is to listen to the nudges from the Lord to see if He may be speaking to you, especially after reading this book. This quote from Lee sums up the book well: Comfort is a spiritual gift God gives us, one with the missional purpose that we are to share it with others. Lee wants to help mom find their place in God's plan and to realize that that place just may be far bigger than they could ever imagine. It's a book filled with hope and inspiration.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 28, 2011
This is a wonderful book and I would recommend it to any mom! I received this book as a gift from another mom and all I can say is "wow". It is pretty deep and gives you so much to think about, but is one that I am purchasing now for my Nook so I can have it with me everywhere. Wonderful Wonderful Book!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted May 26, 2013
No text was provided for this review.