Choosing Servant Motherhood: Why I am embracing this ministry
Should I be trying to change the world around me, or should I aim to obey and love God — even when the impact may sometimes appear small?
In January, I turned 36. Age is just a number, but birthdays always get me thinking about my whole life. Am I where I should be as a 36-year-old? Culture around me asks what I’ve accomplished. Society doesn’t see stay-at-home moms—we’re nearly invisible. Where are awards, trophies, bonuses, promotions, evidence of a job well done? I recently noticed that movies never have stay-home-moms as the lead character, or at least never include moms who feel fulfilled being moms. If you don’t bring home a paycheck, you’re nothing, you’re doing nothing, you’re not interesting. When I go out with my kids, I feel it. The public doesn't value my role.
When I was little, I assumed I would definitely become president of the United States of America. By elementary school, I had moved onto the goal of becoming CEO of some huge amazing company that would be known for its innovation around the globe. Heather (then) Glasgow would be a household name. Later, I wanted to be a professional singer (although I learned by high school that my alto singing voice and knack for singing harmonies wouldn’t melt any hearts or earn any money) on the world stage. I wanted to walk down the street and little kids would tug on their mom’s sweater and say, “Mama! Mama! It’s Heather Glasgow!”
I think much of the desire to be famous was the era in which I grew, when schools taught that “SELF esteem” or “loving yourself” was one of—if not THE— most important goals in life. And boy did my generation grasp that concept. Guidance counselors in my public elementary school came in to our class and told us how to put ourselves first. In my third grade school play, we actually performed Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” — which of course was about loving your SELF.
Self-sacrifice, and serving others, humility, and putting family first — the things that Jesus taught, the Bible taught, the moral foundation our entire society was built upon — went mostly out of style.
Of course, in the Glasgow home, my parents were going in the opposite direction of culture, trying to train us how to love God and care for those who were overlooked — they were constantly sacrificing their own freedom in order to give! And people who knew my parents saw God’s powerful love in person — my parents would give up their own car to someone who needed it, give our clothing money to random strangers they met, repeatedly drop all our plans to go pray for someone in the hospital or make a meal for someone who was struggling, allow neighborhood kids whose parents were going through rough divorces to spend the night or even whole weeks at our house. This quiet, beautiful, sacrificial life of millions of unseen moments, in obedience to God and for the benefit of others, was changing lives.
And then the internet hit it big when I was a pre-teen and people in my age group were all obsessed with making our digital personas, in chat rooms (where I innocently claimed to be 26-years-old and 5’10” tall), and then coming up with narcissistic away-messages on AOL instant messenger, and then in my senior year of college the fledgling Facebook captured everyone’s remaining brain-space. With the huge childhood dose of self-love my generation carried around, the obvious next step was wanting the whole world to know how great we were! Hello, Instagram!
Everything became about IMPACT. How many people are you reaching? How many views did you get? Are you an Influencer? Are you a Leader? Are you gonna change the world? Will you single-handedly achieve world peace? "Get to it, millennials, go get those million Instagram 'followers' and 'lead' them!" Making a preachy meme or a three-sentence sermonette could go viral so much more easily than living by the Bible that sermon came from.
In this desire for influence in big numbers, everything got so SURFACE. Priorities got rearranged. Instead of being deeply rooted in truth, which takes time and effort to learn, everyone wanted to hear the quick-fix answer to everything. Instead of close, quality relationships, emphasis was put on how many you could reach.
Why spend all my time with my kids, when I can go speak at conferences and influence thousands?!
Why go pray with the elderly widow in the hospital, when I can live-stream a webinar where I pray with lots of people?
Why give up that money to a family member or neighbor having a rough time, when I can give it to a huge 501(c)(3) charity?
Why invest time praying at home for those who annoy me, when I can just type up a social media rant and then “drop the mic”?
None of these things are wrong, per se, but I’ve begun to learn that my heart motives are key. Am I rooted and established in LOVE? Am I thinking how to obey God first and foremost? Am I serving others for THEIR benefit? Or is it to change them, because I don’t like how they are?
Is my home built on the rock (Jesus!), or on the sand (public perception)?
I struggle with this every day.
It’s so much easier to think about “BIG" things I could do, how large my platform could become, how successful I could be, how many book deals, how many degrees I could earn, how many people I could lead, how many hearts I could change...
...than it is to train my kids to love God, through patiently serving them in the little moments lived all day long, to serve them like Jesus came to serve, to encourage them to live the dreams God gives them, to show them how to love others extravagantly. I want them to extend God’s love to others, even when nobody is looking. I have to show them how this is done. It has eternal significance.
Serving my kids can look so worthless to the onlooker. And much of it can feel so pointless to me, if I forget the reason I do it — obedience to God. His orders are for us to see our children as a blessing and to train them well. That training takes significant TIME spent with them.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” — Psalm 127:3-5
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” — Proverbs 22:6
“I’m so much better than this,” I sometimes think while I’m cleaning up smeared poop off the rug after a potty training fiasco. “I could be changing so many people’s lives,” I think as I’m throwing away toys as discipline for bad behavior, following through on a consequence that genuinely hurts me more than it hurts them. “I could be doing something that people value and praise,” I grumble inside as I’m cooking and prepping food for hours a day, food I know will help heal their guts and nourish their growing brains, food I know they’ll complain about. “Why did I even get a degree?” I internally complain as I’m fretting over how to get time in the day to teach one child French, one child cursive, one child reading, one child patience. I never get even 30 minutes alone in a single day — not even 15 minutes!
But it’s all obedience to God’s design for motherhood. He didn’t put me here to serve myself, but to sacrifice myself. Once we have children in our care—and that time is short! — they are our noble ministry and it is our holy privilege to put them first. Period. Even if I feel I have a “calling” or a great “ministry” outside the home, if I put my kids on the back burner, I am denying God’s design for me. There is no such thing as a ministry that is more important than raising our children.
"If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” — 1 Timothy 3: 5
I get the itch near daily to publicly share what I’ve learned in my time with God, and in my time with my family, and in my time reading and researching. When I was a twenty-something newlywed, I used to have so much time and energy on my hands and wanted desperately to become a writer, but I had no life experience to write about! Now, I have so many experiences to write about and share, and no time with which to do it! (I started writing this post a year ago!) What a blessing!
I feel SO STRONGLY about healing this generation of children with holistic healthy lifestyle, about creating strong Godly homes, about questioning the status quo and creating a more free world, about showing Jesus’ LOVE to ALL.
But getting out those messages is NOT more important than *showing* them FIRST to my children.
“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Matthew 20:26-27
So whether my time in motherhood is valued by others, or nobody sees it but God. Whether I live to 110 and get to revel in a legacy of Godly kids and grandkids and great grandkids, or I die tomorrow and never see the fruit of parenting. Whether I get to write everything down and pour into other younger mothers, or I get only to get to do the work inside this humble home. The glory is in following God in this, giving the best of me — laying down my life—for them, in the nitty-gritty one-on-one moments of motherhood.