So what does your mom do all day?
This question was posed by some of my high school (or maybe middle school?) friends in reference to my very own stay-at-home mother.
I remember being shocked and even a little offended by the question. The tone implied that my mom was (at best) bored or (at worst) lazy. Like, what in the world could she possibly have to do but watch TV all day?
In reality my mom was (and is) one of the busiest, hardest workers I know. Not to mention, she’s smart as a whip. She made the choice to leave a successful career outside the home in order to be at home with her children. And personally, I’m very thankful for that decision. I was shaped by that decision.
I realize this is not the right decision for every mother. For some it’s not even a valid option. And that is all well and good.
But as women and mothers who are following Christ, I think it is important to evaluate the way we think about these issues of women working, whether in or out of the home. Because it’s easy to fall into one of two ditches in terms of our thinking.
In most of the secular world, and even in many Christian circles, staying at home is not en vogue, if you will. With the economy as it is today, many women feel that they don’t have a choice in order to maintain the lifestyle they desire or believe they need. In these circles, its easy to develop the mindset that staying at home is somehow less valuable (and less work) than working a paying job outside the home. For those in these circles who do choose to stay at home, it may be easy to believe that the job they are doing is somehow small or insignificant.
In other arenas, however, staying home is the more common choice. For instance, most of the moms I knew at seminary stayed home with their kids. For these, the temptation is to elevate the role of “stay-at-home mom”—to seek to find their worth and purpose in this position or even in their children.
Both of these are ditches to avoid.
The Bible is clear that all wives are to be “home focused,” regardless of whether or not they work outside the home. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, teaches that the primary role of a wife is to be a worker at home, loving and caring for her husband and children. The woman who devotes her life’s work to the care of her husband, children, and home for the glory of the Lord is pleasing to the Lord. Her work is challenging. It requires great wisdom, strength, and skill derived from the Lord Himself. Her work is valuable and precious in the sight of God. However, this passage does not prohibit women from working out of the home. In fact, Scripture references outside employment for the excellent wife of Proverbs 31 (Prov 31:16, 18, 24). In this passage, the excellent wife is praised for being industrious in helping provide for her family.
Life will not look the same for every wife. Whether staying home or working outside the home, all believing wives must remember to find their worth in a person, rather than a position. For those of us who have repented of our sin and trusted Christ in faith, we possess worth because we are identified with Jesus. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see brokenness, failure, and sin. He sees his spotless son. In this, there is incomparable worth.
And our purpose, whether in or out of the home, is to bring Him glory by working for what is eternal and seeking to please Him. We are to seek first His Kingdom wherever we work, in whatever we do. There is nothing more eternally important than shepherding your own children’s hearts in the ways of the Lord. But all mothers must remember that true purpose is found, not in results, but rather in bringing God glory through faithful obedience. Ultimately, we can’t change a child’s heart. We are called to be faithful in spiritual training and shepherding, but only God can save them.
So, regardless of who we are, where we work, and what our lives look like presently, may we be reminded that life is a vapor. May we respect one another in the varied roles to which God has called us. And more importantly. . . in our mothering, our domestic care, our paid employment, in all things. . . let’s work for the things that will last: the Word of God and the souls of men. Let’s work for His glory, a glory that will never fade.
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9.