Friday, January 11, 2008

The Big and the Little, Revisited

Our culture--Christian and secular alike--is consumed with accomplishment. At least that's what I said in my post on doing Big Things for God. And I think there is little doubt to the veracity of that statement. Someone commented that we tend to view success in terms of impact, i.e. bigger is better; the bigger my sphere of influence, the more important my ministry, at least that's the way we tend to view it.

I loved what one commenter said about wanting to be called to Africa, but God called her to change dirty diapers. Is her ministry any less critical? Because her impact seems small, only one or two or maybe more children, does it matter less than say the ministry of John Piper? And what tells us women especially that what we do here in the home isn't ministry? Why do most of us feel some sort of restlessness to go and do and be something "more"?

The last thing I want to be is political and in bringing up this example I am by no means making a political assessment one way or the other....but I think of that infamous interview with the Clinton's where Hillary asserted that "if you think I'm going to stay home and bake cookies, you've got another thing coming..." Or something like that. I didn't actually look up the quote, but surely you remember.

What's wrong with baking cookies? The strong emotion with which she answered the question indicated her belief that to be at home baking cookies was somehow beneath her, "less than."

When I was in high school and college (dating myself here), I was an avid fan of The Cosby Show. I thought Claire Huxtable embodied everything I wanted to be: beautiful, strong, smart. And she could bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. She made motherhood--and womanhood--look glamorous. She made me believe I could have it all.

Instead, I found myself something less-than-glamorous, weak, worn out, and unsure of my place in this world. My frustration mounted as I wanted to be and do something "more" yet feeling "less than." I began to subtly and subconsciously despise the Little things because I felt that success and significance and identity came with the Big Things.

There is the lie of our culture: significance comes from accomplishment and accomplishment means big impact.

How easily we forget that our God is counter cultural! His ways are not our ways, and in His economy even the most mundane task becomes a holy calling as we perform it in His name and for His glory.

Changing diapers becomes an act of worship as we care for our children for His glory. Fixing juice cups, running kids to practice, mopping the floor, calling a friend, posting a comment on a blog--all tasks we tend to view as insignificant and meaningless. Yet God tells us...

whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him...work heartily, as for the Lord... (Col. 3:17, 23)

Everything--everything!--can be done as for the Lord, and so becomes a holy calling, a divine service, an act of worship.

God has granted you, His child, a sphere of influence, maybe your home, your church, your neighborhood, your workplace. It may be an arena full of women hanging on your every word, or it may be a van full of children acting as if they aren't listening at all. Wherever He places you, whatever He asks of you this day, may you glorify Him.

26 comments:

  1. I'm thoroughly checking my room for bugs today, because I think you were a fly on my wall last night while I was wailing to my husband about "insignificance." Whew! To be put in my rightful place two times in less than 24 hours--let's just say Humble Pie is today's menu.

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  2. so true...so very true.

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  3. Such wise words! I have truly found my significance through submission, not "big things," especially in the last year. You always challenge me to keep proper perspective.

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  4. That is beautiful, Lisa.

    And our culture is not only focused on the visibly significance but on immediate gratification. A dangerous combination.

    I think in the Bible of some very ordinary women - most anonymous, a few not - who probably thought their lives were insignificant but look at their impact. . . .

    *Hannah, mother of Samuel
    *Lois and Eunice, grandmother & mother of Timothy, who lived out their faith, even though his Greek father was probably not a believer
    *those who taught and influenced Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all the other prophets
    *Peter's mother-in-law

    Oops, not trying to steal your post. Just amen and amen!!!

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  5. Holy Canoli Woman!!! That was amazing! I can not even begin to tell you how grateful to God I am that I decided to "pop over" here today to "meet you".

    I have not read ANY of your other posts, I really don't know much of anything about you, but what I can tell you is this...you are SPOT on!

    Your words ring loudly in my heart and I can relate to everything you have said in so many ways.

    I too have struggled with "society" telling us that it is not enough to ______ (you can fill in the blank) because in all reality it will NEVER be enough.

    We are not called to be perfect, but we are called to run the race in which God has prepared for us. We don't have to finish first, flashy, with thousands of people waving flags, or anything like that, we just have to finish!

    I have recently left my position as a Pastor at a mega church(nothing scandelous) and decided to focus more on my family...which is the FIRST ministry God has given to me because ministry at a super sized church requires monumentous amounts of time.

    I have two sons in Middle School and they need BOTH parents to be actively involved and available for them.

    It was hard, and I battled my flesh (specifically on being "successful" and doing BIG things for God) but ultimately I know that it was the right decision and God has continued to bless me every day for it.

    Thank you so much for your empowering words...it is just what the Good doctor ordered for today!

    xoxo,
    Melissa

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  6. That was beautiful and I needed to read it. I struggled for so long with "society" telling me I needed to be successful, especially after getting a college degree. I have had people tell me my degree is wasted because of my ministry to my children and husband at home.

    The things that seem so insignificant when done according to God's plan, pleases Him so much and those major accomplishments when done outside His will is merly disobedience. I would rather walk in His pleasure of obedience.

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  7. There's such sweet contentment when we truly let our little things (the world labels insignificant) become more than great things for His Kingdom. To do this is to not have to keep running for the greener pasture that's suppose to be there. There is no greener pasture. Our abundant life is now, for all women. It's our choice to take it, dwell in Him, and at times...sit as the layers of our heart unfold before Him.

    your words encourage my biblical womanhood. thank you.

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  8. Beautifully written! Thanks for the encouragement, just what I needed today.

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  9. I would call it ironic that I read this post today, but I find it hard to belive in irony with a God like ours. I ran into one of our bible study members today and she spoke of this same thing. She reminded me how big of a ministry to raise children in the Kingdom of God and then I come home to read your post and my heart is full. Thank you for reminding me that my job is not as ordinary as I like to think it is.

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  10. What a great post. I'm doing some blog surfing tonight and am so glad to have found this exact post! Sometimes I (along with other wives and moms) just need a little encouraging. I actually wrote a little bit about this in my most recent post. Thank you for the encouraging and affirming words!

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  11. Love this post what a wonderful reminder that God uses us no matter what our surroundings be it Africa or our home we can be used and are important in advancing His kingdom.
    Blessings,
    Linda

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  12. Oh, oh oh, this might posibly be my favorite post of yours ever. Haven't I said that before. But I need to print this out and wallpaper my house with it reminding myself that what I am doing is important.

    I have been crawling out of my skin lately with a desire to do something, be something, more than just a mommy to my children. "Just a mommy to my children", a referee, a chauffeur, a maid... that's how I have come to look at it.

    Thanks for the reminder. I knew this, I just needed a kick in the tail.

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  13. This is a beautiful post. Well written.

    And is this a new blog design? Within the last couple months, anyway??? Very pretty.

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  14. Dearest Lisa~
    This is such a beautiful post. I have been in that arena speaking and in the van full of kids.

    And I will say, my favorite place of ministry is wherever God chooses to place me for that moment.

    Some of my favorite ministry times have been making cookies for my kiddos while doing laundry and helping with homework. Thank you very much Hillary- not trying to be polical either- just stating a fact. Baking cookies is a very noteworthy (and tasty) undertaking!

    You are a wonderful writer Lisa-

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  15. So true. I think Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God said it similarly - that the foundation of life is to perform all actions for the love of God. It's so easy to forget that in the dirtiest, most mundane tasks of the day.

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  16. Oh YES!!! I am with you all the way! This is how it went for me..... 'Attended college ..got that degree... got married' and then 4 years later got to do what I had always wanted and felt called to do...be a Stay at home MOMMY!!!! And now...11 (almost 12) years later....... still loving every single minute of it...and not only that.......but GOD is soooo good....He even allows me to be her teacher! We Homeschool too!!!
    Ahhhh the sweet life in the LORD! True and total contentment! Being blessed where I am planted!
    I am so glad to have found you! I will be back!!!!!
    Many blessings to you! You are precious with such a beautiful heart for our Father! Thanks for sharing!!!

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  17. Thank you, Lisa. I really needed to read this today.

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  18. You are certainly speaking God's heart here, Lisa! I pray God uses it mightily to set women free from striving and straining and be able to rest in God and His calling.

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  19. Just wanted to say hello. Found your blog through the Daily dose Award. Maria at Freetofly gave me mine. I also have four sons. I home school them ages 18,16,13, and 12. I also perk up a bit when I hear of another mother with four sons. I have book marked your blog. I will be back! Love your thoughts!

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  20. Thank you, My husband Reads your blog and sent it to me. I really needed to hear this and it was well said.

    I used to think my ministry was the job I loved, and wanted to have children for so long, and was so happy to leave work to care for them. Now as I stuggle to make it through the day, I was really questioning if I was meant to have kids. Now I really understand my ministry is small, because it takes all all me for just these two little angels and it is just how he wanted it! Thanks again!

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  21. I came to this post via Joy's blog and just had to say how beautiful it was. I hope many women take it to heart. Thankfully, I have always felt at peace with my ministry of motherhood. Wait, let me be clear. I am at peace with my decision to pursue full time motherhood. I am not always at peace with the motherhood part of it- I am no saint! :)

    The lovely thing is that as my children get older and I have a little more room in my life new opportunities for service are slowly drifting my way. To everything there is a season....

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  22. That is beautiful, Lisa.

    And our culture is not only focused on the visibly significance but on immediate gratification. A dangerous combination.

    I think in the Bible of some very ordinary women - most anonymous, a few not - who probably thought their lives were insignificant but look at their impact. . . .

    *Hannah, mother of Samuel
    *Lois and Eunice, grandmother & mother of Timothy, who lived out their faith, even though his Greek father was probably not a believer
    *those who taught and influenced Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all the other prophets
    *Peter's mother-in-law

    Oops, not trying to steal your post. Just amen and amen!!!

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  23. Such wise words! I have truly found my significance through submission, not "big things," especially in the last year. You always challenge me to keep proper perspective.

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