When you hear this word, what kind of image does it paint for you?
If you’re like most of our culture, the image this word brings to mind probably isn’t a very positive one. Am I right?
Maybe you’re envisioning a mom of young children sitting around at home, wiping runny noses and changing dirty diapers, while her husband is away at work.
Or maybe you can imagine this same young mom folding laundry, doing the dishes, or sweeping the floor for the 5th time this week.
Maybe you can picture her still in her pajamas at 11:30 am, enjoying a bit of quiet while her children are napping or away at school.
Maybe you can see her waiting in the pick-up line at school or in the check-out line at the grocery store, serving her family, and making sure they have everything they need to survive and to thrive.
Maybe you can envision her standing in front of the stove with her hair that she didn’t get a chance to wash pulled up in a bun, getting dinner prepped and ready to cook, while her kids do their homework at the dining room table.
Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?
Maybe not to most people. But, a few months ago, when I asked my 6-year-old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, this picture I just painted for you of what life looks like for a lot of young mothers today is exactly what she told me she desires most—to be a mom and to take care of a family.
To be honest, my initial reaction to her answer was less than supportive. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
My daughter: “I want to be a mommy and to take care of a family!”
Me: “Oh. That’s really sweet, honey, but I mean what do you want to be, as in what job do you want to have?”
My daughter: “I don’t want a job. I just want to get married and have babies and take care of them.”
Me: “I’m sure you’ll get to be married and have babies one day, but for now, you have to make sure you do your best in school so you can go to college and have a career! So, what do you think you’d want to do as a job?”
My daughter: “Oh.” *the excitement waning from her little voice* “I guess I can be a teacher, then.”
As I thought about my response to my daughter’s biggest dream in life, I couldn’t help but wonder why her answer wasn’t enough for me. I couldn’t help but wonder why I had to help her see that her “dream job” wasn’t realistic or valuable enough to be her main goal in life.
The thing is, I’m a homemaker—a stay-at-home mom and wife, if you will. I stay at home during the day while most people are working, and I take care of my home and my family. I don’t have a real job, as some would say because I don’t get a paycheck for the work that I carry out.
When most people who don’t know me (and who don’t stay at home themselves) ask me what I do and they hear that I “stay at home,” I usually get the same response:
“Oh, that must be nice.” (Followed by an awkward transition onto a new subject.)
It’s not hard to see that our culture doesn’t exactly place much value on those who would call themselves homemakers today. And though I don’t agree with this assessment (being a homemaker myself, of course), I’ve come to realize that I’ve somehow allowed what others think of this role to influence the way I parent my daughter’s regard for it.
If being a homemaker is enough for me, and it’s what I feel God has called me to do, then why couldn’t He call one or both of my daughters to do the same? And if it’s God’s calling, which I believe it is, why isn’t that enough for me to see value in it? Why isn’t it enough for our culture to see value in it?
Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “Is being a homemaker really a calling?”
Not only is there evidence of this in God’s Word, both in Titus chapter 2 and Proverbs chapter 31 (which I’ll get to a little later), but I’ve seen the evidence in my own little girl’s heart, ever since she was old enough to walk and talk and play with toys.
When she was a toddler, she always liked being a mommy and taking care of her baby dolls. Now that she’s a little older, she likes to pretend she’s the wife and mother of a family and she acts out different household scenarios with her Barbie dolls and other figurines.
When I’m cooking or cleaning, she has always wanted to help me. She just has this unnatural interest in cleaning and doing things that aren’t nearly as fun as she thinks they are. I mean seriously, I’ve never seen a 6-year-old clean and organize the way she does! It’s impressive.
The point is, these are not things I required her to do or that I had to twist her arm to get her interested in doing—she was just born with the desire to do them.
She was born with the desire to be a mommy. She was born with the desire to take care of a family and to take care of a home. And I know this to be 100% true because you see, I was born with this desire, too.
When I was a little girl, my toy of choice was a bald-headed baby doll (I’m not sure why it had to be bald, but I guess it was more realistic?). This baby doll had real diapers that I could change, a bottle I could use to feed it with, and I absolutely loved it. I loved pretending I was a mommy.
As I was growing up, when people would ask me what I was going to do with my life, I came to realize that I couldn’t just say, “I want to be a wife and a mother.” So I settled on the idea of becoming a teacher. That seemed to be a much more acceptable answer, especially in a culture where women had been freed from the confines of the kitchen and were able to pursue a career in anything they wanted.
Well, God had the final say on the matter and instead of going to college and becoming a teacher, He gave me the opportunity to do exactly what I had wanted to do all along—get married and start a family.
That was well over 15 years ago now, and though I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord and have been involved in countless ministries over the years (mostly teaching others about God’s Word, ironically enough), the very first ministry God ever entrusted to me still holds top place in my life—the ministry of being a homemaker.
Again, I know what you’re thinking: “Is being a homemaker really a ministry?”
Let me draw some truth on this subject from the best source available to answer questions like this – God’s Holy Word.
In the book of Titus, the Apostle Paul gave Titus the task of making sure the church in Crete was set up and operating in a Biblical and God-honoring way so that the church could thrive and maintain a sense of order.
In the first chapter of Titus, Paul instructs Titus on how to set up leadership and authority in the church.
In the second chapter of Titus, Paul describes what role each member of the church should play and how they should behave and live.
It’s here, in chapter 2, verses 1-5, where I believe God’s Word reveals to us both the calling and the ministry of being a homemaker.
“But as for you (Titus), speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (NKJV – emphasis added).
Verses 6-10 go on to address young men and bondservants, but for now, we’ll focus on the verses above.
Having read these verses, I find it difficult for anyone to come to the conclusion that being a homemaker isn’t a calling. Paul literally tells Titus to instruct the older women to teach the younger women to be, well, homemakers.
And what is a homemaker, you may ask?
Basically, someone who manages or takes care of a household and home, typically as their principal occupation.
Paul exhorts young women to see this as more than just an occupation—he exhorts them to see it as an opportunity to love and to serve their families. And that, my friends, is where it becomes a ministry.
Let me share with you the moment this truth became clear to me.
While my children were at school and my husband was at work the other day, I decided to get some much-needed cleaning done. As I was cleaning, I started thinking about how often I clean and how many messes I’m constantly picking up. I started thinking about whether or not my constant cleaning made any difference in the lives of my family.
By the looks of it, you’d think my family might actually prefer the mess, being that they always seem to leave it in that condition every single day. I was almost tempted to just leave the mess and go do something else—because, hey, it was just going to get messed back up again anyway!
Well, before I could allow myself to start grumbling, complaining, and basically giving up on serving my family in this tangible way, the Holy Spirit redirected my thoughts. God showed me the impact my choices actually have on my family by giving me a mental image, if you will, of two different scenarios:
Scenario 1: My family comes home after a long day at school/work and sees a big mess everywhere. Dirty dishes in the sink, dirty piles of laundry that never quite made it into the wash, toys and garbage littering the floor and tables in the living room. I had been busy all day—working, shopping, hanging out with friends, catching up on my favorite tv shows, etc.—and I didn’t have the time or energy to keep up with my home. I certainly didn’t have time to make sure my family had a hot meal for dinner, so it’s every man and kid for themselves tonight. Maybe I’ll get to catch up on my cleaning on Saturday, when everyone else is off work and out of school and can pitch in. They made most of the mess anyway, so they should help clean it. The weekend is over and it’s back to the grind.
Scenario 2: My family comes home after a long day at school/work and sees a nice, clean home. No dishes in the sink. Clean laundry put away in the proper closets and drawers. Everything is tidy and in its place. Dinner is in the oven and the kids have a clean table to sit at, where I can help them do their homework. The living room is cleared of all previously scattered debris and is ready to be, well, lived in. Since all of the cleaning and errands have been kept up with during the week, Saturday can be used as a family day having fun, rather than a family day spent cleaning and catching up.
Which one of these scenarios do you think your family would rather come home to?
I know for me, personally, I’d prefer the second one—and God reminded me that this is the scenario that my family would prefer, as well.
I understand that not every family dynamic is set up to where the wife/mother can stay at home, due to health issues with her husband or her being a single parent. But taking care of the home is still a calling for all women and a great opportunity for ministry.
Proverbs 31:10-31 describes a woman who is considered a virtuous, or excellent, wife. In this passage of scripture, there are several references to how she cares for her household. She makes sure they have enough food to eat (vs 15), she makes sure they have clean/appropriate clothes to wear (vs 21), and she watches over everything that happens in her home (vs 27).
Does that mean that we can never pursue other passions or do things we like to do? No, friend. But it does mean that our family and home should be a priority in our lives.
Is it easy to cook and clean all the time and to put the needs of our family above our own? No.
Is it easy to take time away from ourselves and what we want to do so that we can make sure our family is happy and well-cared for? Not exactly.
Is it easy to do a thankless job day in and day out, just so our family has a relaxing environment to come home to and unwind in? No, my friend, it’s not easy.
But will it bring our family peace and joy and make us more like Christ when we do these things? Absolutely.
Despite what our culture tells women, there’s immense value in serving our families and serving in our homes. When we seek to find our worth and value outside of God’s design for the family, that’s when chaos abounds. That’s when we pass our chaotic routines down to the next generation, all while telling our children that what they were called and commanded to do won’t make them valuable and they need to somehow add to that calling by doing more or doing something totally different.
Jesus, Himself, tells us in Matthew 20:28 that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. If He gladly and willingly loved and served those closest to Him, and He gladly gave up His life for those He loved, shouldn’t we be doing the same?
Even if it means we won’t ever become a professional teacher or pursue a thriving career like so many others, there is always value in doing what God has called us to do and in being who He has called us to be. We must not only live out this truth every day—but we must also teach it to our children and allow them to pass it on to their next generation.
Featured Image by Jisu Han