One of the things I love about reading the Gospels is getting to see what Jesus actually did: what He said, how He acted, what He chose to pay attention to. I always notice how aware He was of the needs of the people around Him. In contrast I’m often most consumed with myself: where I need to go, what I’m trying to do, and how I get the children to cooperate.
When I read Mark 3 one morning my first prayer was that I would be able to see the needs of the people around me over the distractions of my children. That I wouldn’t be so caught up in keeping them beside me in the store or on their seats in a restaurant that I wouldn’t notice the people surrounding us that need to know Jesus. And I think that’s a noble prayer. I do want to pay attention to the needs of others.
What I don’t like is that it overlooks my ministry to my children. I don’t like that I see my children as distractions from truly serving God. It reminded me of that often-pinned C.S. Lewis quote that says, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” Apparently I need to buy my own copy of that print to hang in my kitchen.
My ministry as a Christian woman starts here in my own home with my husband and my kids. I don’t have to overlook the needs of my children in order to share the Gospel. I get to share the Gospel here in my home (and hopefully everywhere we go).
This is not flashy service. There are no platforms or crowds- well, except the children who occasionally seem like a crowd. There is not an awards ceremony. But I am still presented with opportunity after opportunity to show God’s love and attention to these little people that often stare into my eyes before my alarm goes off.
Sometimes that looks a lot like explaining to a child why we don’t behave a certain way and practicing the right way to do things. Sometimes that looks like giving a snack or snuggling on the couch before naptime. Sometimes it looks like throwing down the to-do list and other times it looks like gathering the children into the work.
It would be easier to have another place of service. I don’t feel like I’m naturally suited to motherhood; it’s a long, hard struggle some days to even use an appropriate tone of voice when I talk to my kids. But this is an important place of service. It’s a place where I can walk in the footsteps of Jesus, serving the unnoticed. It’s a place where Jesus makes me more like Him.
Do I want to notice the needs of strangers when I’m in public? Yes. Do I want to teach my children by my example and my words to do the same? Yes. But only as I serve God where I am in the daily work of raising of these children will I be able to notice and care about the needs of those around me. Who I am at home is who I am. There is no serving the dying world at the grocery store and ignoring the needs in my own living room. It’s an extension of the life that God is growing in me and living out in my own home.
Go forth and make disciples. See the need and respond with compassion. Both of those start right here at my dining room table.