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Friday, June 28, 2013

Move Over, Billy...

I am a lot of things. 

And before you start name-calling, just know that I have been called worse, okay?

Seriously, though, we all wear a lot of hats. I am wife, friend, mother, singer, writer, plant-killer, baller. And, as a mom, I am (and we all are a) MINISTER.

Do you ever think of yourself as a minister? Or is that a title reserved in your mind for those who hold seminary and divinity degrees, or those who work on the staff of your local church? 

It seems that in our current culture one can’t be called a minister without specific educational or vocational credentials. Most of us think of this when we think of a minister:


Ok, so he is pretty darn great. I mean, he's BILLY GRAHAM! But, how often do we think of this:



Yes, folks, that is me. 
Unfortunately. 
***READER'S NOTE: I am not the most beautiful woman in the world; however, I would like it to be known that when I occasionally shower, put on makeup, and some other-than-gym clothes, I can actually look kind of cute. Also, the hair cut above was a fro-tastic do-over. 
This photo was taken (eye twitch NOT manufactured) after a 15-hour workday as a stay-at-home mom minister. I have no official credentials. I haven’t taken courses on the 12 tribes of Israel or the genealogy of Jesus. I haven’t received a certificate of ordination. But then again, neither had Paul.
One of my favorite sections of Scripture depicts just what it means to have authentic ministry, to be a true minister of the Lord. Paul and Timothy wrote about it in their letter to the church of Corinth:
“We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth.  God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
2 CORINTHIANS 6:3-10
This is a beautiful example of what it means to try to be a minister of the Gospel that mirrors the ministry of Jesus Christ. Living a life that doesn’t cause another to stumble, and striving to have a ministry that none find fault with. Paul, nor Timothy, for that matter, had a Doctorate of Divinity degree plastered to their office wall. They didn’t even have an office! Their very LIVES were their ministry. I believe that there is a great encouragement for mothers to be found in the examples of Paul and Timothy. In times of trial, they persevered. They chose to love in the face of disrespect. They chose patience in times of frustration. Their work was often overlooked in spite of its great importance. Sound familiar?
If you will allow me some creative license, I would love to share 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 with you again, this time in my own words as rewritten for mothers:
“We as mothers live in such a way that our children will not stumble because of us, and they will not find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been whined at, spit up on, faced angry mobs of hungry children, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without *hot* food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth to our children.  God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether our children honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are loving, but they call us mean. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live selflessly, giving ourselves away, but we are still whole. We have been beaten down, but we have not been devoured. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We go without so that we might give spiritual riches to our children. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
2 CORINTHIANS 6:3-10 (a mother’s version)
Let us not forget, even for one moment, that we are ministers with full-time jobs. Our ministry as mothers is a 24/7 affair. There is no PTO, no sick days available for us. Our ministry is continual, and it is deeply, deeply important. We work in a spiritual life-and-death situation. We work to set the example for our children of what it means to look and love like Jesus. We mediate disagreements, all the while ministering the love and grace of God to our kids. We wipe snotty noses and dirty bottoms, all while teaching watchful little ones how to care for others. We organize life, keep a (somewhat) clean living environment, provide meals three times a day, and constantly launder clothing, often unseen and unappreciated but nonetheless teaching what it means to serve through the example of how we serve our very families.
Mom’s don’t get degrees in motherhood, and there is no special class we can take that will make us more skilled as parents. Instead we must immerse ourselves in the Word, pour over our lives and our families in prayer, and most importantly keep in focus our ministries to our families. My prayer is that God would constantly remind us as moms that our daily routines and the ins and outs of regular life are anything but routine or regular; no, they are a ground that is fertile for seeds of Life to be planted, for great ministry to take place, and for beautiful Fruit to be borne in due time. Because, if we’re honest, isn’t that what it’s really all about? 

That, and the satisfaction that comes in knowing that one day our children will have to get to take care of US, clean up OUR messes, and change OUR diapers, and that we will be way less cute than babies. They best get their Billy Graham on by then.

Feel free to laugh!