The Mission of Motherhood – Book Review

In the first two and a half years of parenting that I have journeyed so far, I find that it is extremely helpful to me to read some type of biblically driven parenting book every three to four months.  Despite my best efforts, it is so easy for me to lose focus in my parenting and forget the grand purposes God has designed for me as a mother and shepherd of little souls.  Reading Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood this January was a great help to me as I thought once again about the vision I have for our family and what I need to be doing on a regular basis to help us get there.  It’s not often that I encounter people who seriously question what I have chosen to do with my life and what I believe God has called me to do…to devote myself, my time and my energies entirely to serving my husband and raising children.  Just this week, however, someone close to me made a comment that implied my choice to be a full-time mother was somehow less worthy to God’s kingdom work than my life would have been say I had become a Christian writer or traveled the country speaking at conferences or become a great biblical counselor.  While it was hard to hear, I am so thankful that God has grounded me in His Word, which makes clear as Clarkson also writes, that the role of a Christian mother is to “influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children” (p. 13).  And yes, this is mighty kingdom work…it often requires more time, more energy, more self-sacrifice and more dependence on God’s grace than any other type of work in the world.  Clarkson spends the first couple of chapters in her book describing God’s plan and role for mothers while the latter part of the book is devoted to the every-day practical ways in which we work out this plan.  I don’t know that this book is necessarily a “must-read” for every mother.  But, if you find yourself struggling in God’s calling for your life as a mom or if you often feel that you devote too much time to other endeavors at the expense of time with your children, this is the book for you.  Here are  few of my favorite quotes:

I needed to accept days like this — my children’s neediness, the myriad mindless tasks, and even my own occasional discomfort — as part of my partnering with my husband toward our mutual goal of building a godly heritage for Christ.  I needed to nurture my children with my songs, my words, and my physical labor, treating each day as sacred in their development toward becoming healthy, mature adults.  I needed to face the reality that all of the “important stuff” I was longing to do had far less eternal significance than what I was involved in doing.  If I didn’t commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart would always be somewhere else. p. 45

But it’s the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts.  If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant’s heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life. p. 63

Choosing to be a servant-mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering — and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of my time at that moment.  It means that, by faith, I have already made a decision to make myself available in the routine tasks and myriad interruptions of daily life because I believe it is God’s will for me to serve my family through them.  Making this choice ahead of time means I will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment. pp. 66-67

It is this basic acceptance that provides children with the opportunity to mature.  A child who can go to her mother or father and reveal her inner heart and still feel accepted will feel secure enough to take risks and grow.  If that child senses she might be rejected because of her performance — or worse, because of her thoughts and feelings — then she will wonder if she can ever live up to her parents’ standards.  She will look for acceptance elsewhere or give up entirely on the idea that she is lovable.  When children feel that pleasing their parents is impossible, they often reject the values and beliefs of their parents. p. 129

This is one of the most important foundations of all that draws us near to the reality of the existence of a God, the Master Designer who created this world to be a reflection of his glory.  As I mirror his image in my life through the creative ways we live in our home and the ways I expose my children to what he has made, he will be more personal and real to them. p. 182

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