"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting with one of my sweet young mama friends. With a baby in hand, and three other young ones, we spoke of how much she loves her little ones. And we spoke of the overwhelming feelings that often accompany her days--one child wants this, another fusses, then something is spilled and the baby wants to nurse again. And on and on and on.
In this chapter, I will discuss why we have to understand and embrace serving others, (including our children), as just a part of life or we will always be unhappy and feel used. Yet, as I told my friend, all mamas regularly need to find and or cultivate someone to help, someone to have fun with, someone to understand the guilt feelings that inevitably come because none of us is perfect.
But, again, our starting point is the foundation we laid the recently in my last 3 podcasts. If Jesus commended me to love and train my children as a part of my service of worship to Him, to accept this stewardship with faith and grace, then I must follow Him and his example of how He influenced His disciples. He served, fed, encouraged, instructed and eventually died for them that they might have life. And so, I follow Him.
Yet, once I deeply understood that it was through Jesus making food and feeding his crowds over and over again, washed feet, lifted prostitutes off the dusty ground, held squirmy babies close, and gave His life, we realize that it is through our serving of our children that we will open their hearts to us.
What does it mean to practice servant leadership as a mother? I believe it starts out with a choice. I have to choose to serve Christ by giving my time and energy to my children, husband, friends, colleagues—not just when I feel like it but when they need me. This means I often must sacrifice my own needs and desires for the purpose of giving them what they need and modeling for them the depths of Christ's love.
For me, choosing servanthood has meant sitting quietly on a child's bed, listening to her sorrows and loneliness, encouraging with generosity of spirit administering love— when I would rather have had some time to myself. It has meant being exhausted from caring for three children under six, yet still getting up in the middle of the night to soothe the pain of an ear infection—without complaining about how tired I am. It has meant making the effort to plan an outing—a picnic lunch, a drive to the mountains, a favorite book on tape—when we moved to a new area and my children felt friendless, even though I had a million other things to do or would just love time by myself instead of being the friend my children couldn't find in others and giving my time freely. It means listening to a neighbor pour out her heart and cry over difficulties when I have my family waiting for dinner.
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, 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.
Ministry to others almost never happens at convenient times, but it changes lives forever.
Learning to give up our expectations keeps us from becoming angry when our expectations of life don't turn out exactly as we thought. Children have been the same from the beginning--growing, eating, making messes, crying, laughing, playing and going from infant to adult over many years and much love along the way.
How does this verse represent Jesus' life? What does it mean for mothers to lay down their lives—for you to lay down your own?
Get your own copy of each of these books and follow along with me in my podcast series. Lots more inside these pages that will lead your heart to peace about your role as a mother.