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Being a Good Mother

Elisabeth Elliot: But too many women don't see motherhood as a vocation. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin word for voice. It means a call. I do believe with all my heart that there is no higher and no holier calling than motherhood.

Lisa Barry: As someone who stays home with my children, but also has a home business, there are times when my calling seems blurred. Since my kids don't have deadlines or require follow-up calls, it's easy to put them behind my tasks that do. Is there something that's preventing you from giving your all to the calling of motherhood? Maybe it's because of activities outside the home or too much television or just plain busyness. Today on Gateway To Joy, Elisabeth Elliot reminds us all of the high calling of being a mother. If you feel like you could use a little redirecting of your priorities, you came to the right place. Let's join Elisabeth now as she talks about being a good mother next on Gateway To Joy.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you this week about the vocation of motherhood.

I do want to say thank you with all my heart for the many, many letters that I've gotten from mothers--so many from mothers who have been enabled to stay home and take care of their children, when they thought that there could not possibly be any way. Letters also from women who have not found a way to stay home and take care of their children, even though they deeply desire to.

I hope that nothing that I've said on this program comes across as denigrating the woman who works and is not able to stay home and take care of her children. I know that God knows your situation. But I do want to always encourage women who would like to be able to stay home to see if God might have an answer for them that they never thought of. Perhaps He has.

But too many women don't see motherhood as a vocation. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin word for "voice." It means "a call." I do believe with all my heart that there is no higher and no holier calling than motherhood. Because I have had at least one letter from a woman who said, "Why do you always say that the highest and holiest calling is motherhood? I'm single, and so that means that I will never be as holy as these mothers."

I need to repeat, I'm not saying it is higher and holier than the gift of singleness. I'm simply saying there is no higher calling for a woman than motherhood. If God gives you that gift, that is a high and holy calling and there is no calling higher. But for the single person, there is no calling higher than what God has given to you. Remember, our loving Heavenly Father, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Guard, our Guide-He knows in what sphere we can best glorify Him.

One letter said, "I'm trying to convince myself that I'm worthy." I would think that would be pretty tough. I wouldn't waste any more time on trying to convince yourself that you're worthy, because the Bible makes it pretty plain that none of us deserves the grace of God. We are not worthy. Only the Lamb is worthy.

In Revelation there's that wonderful praise to the Lamb of God: "Behold, the Lamb of God. Thou art worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing." Not one of us is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.

This program, Gateway To Joy, seeks to hold up the standard of God's Word, which is "Be perfect." Does that mean Elisabeth Elliot is a perfectionist? Well, if it means that Elisabeth Elliot aims at perfection, then I would have to confess that that's true. That's what I'm aiming at, but I'm a long way from hitting the goal.

We need to know what the ideal is in order to know what we're aiming at, but we can never attain perfection in this life. Many of us can be tempted to despair of even remotely approaching it, but it's no cause for discouragement. Rome, after all, was not built in a day. You and I are not going to be sanctified in a day, or even wholly sanctified in a lifetime. The surface of things may look black.

Am I talking to someone today for whom the surface of things looks pretty black? A man who has lost a job? A woman who has just found out she has cancer? A young person who has just been jilted by someone he loves? There are hidden processes going on. God is at work. Your prayers are being heard. I trust that your lessons are being studied. There's lots of promise.

I love the old Gospel song, "I look not back. God knows the fruitless efforts, the wasted toil, the sinning, the regrets. I leave them all with Him who blots the record and graciously forgives and then forgets."

Am I talking to a mother who longs to be the best for her children? Do the best you can, and leave to God to decide what measure of success you have achieved. You do the sowing; leave the reaping to His wisdom and love.

How can I be a good mother? First, seek first the kingdom of God. In His redemptive work, Christ needs His servants. Mothers, for example, are servants, cooperating in the will of God by taking care of their children. Christ needs His servants not because He is weak, but because He willed it for His glory in those who love Him and seek His kingdom. The salvation of many depends on the prayers and on the part that we play in sharing in Christ's work here on earth.

Now for example, a field of grain. How did it get there? God provided the soil, the sun, the seed and He brings the rain. But that waving field of golden grain would not be there without the work of the farmer. There are two bodies--Christ and us. There is meant to be a union, a seed, conception, growth, nourishment, fruit. So now, it's your job as a mother to watch over, to care for, to provide for, to influence, to love, to shape the destiny of your children. Love is a sign of discipleship.

Here is a letter from a lady, 39 years old, married when she was 34. She says, "Waiting for a godly man. When I met my husband, I appreciated his true desire to be an uncompromising godly man, but I have no physical attraction to him. He knows this and has been very patient with me. He loves me to death, in spite of myself. I'm not very nice to him at times.

We belong to a committed group of believers, but I don't have the guts to entrust the above with anyone. It's too personal. We are the youth group leaders, and we need wisdom as to how to draw these kids (most are in Christian schools or home schooled) into an intimate recognition of who God is. We don't want to go through books on the do's and don'ts of the Christian life. We want the flippancy that is prevalent in Christendom today to be something that these precious ones steer clear of. We want them to see in our lives a consistency in our worship."

I wrote to that lady who wishes that she had more of an attraction to her husband to remind her that if she has a responsibility to minister to these young people, perhaps one of the most important things that will get the message across to them of the love of God will be the love that they see between you and your husband.

Love is a choice. We are commanded to love. God does not command us to have good feelings about anything. He does not command us to have bad feelings. He commands us, however, to love.

In other words, love is a choice. We can't necessarily summon good feelings for somebody else, and we can't dismiss bad feelings. But we can bring them to the foot of the cross, can't we?

So if you wish that you had time to be holy, remember that you have to love God first, love your husband next, and love your children thirdly. And of course, your neighbors and your enemies. Come down from the mountain of vision with all the urgency of the love of Christ, and do the work He needs you to do. We can't love children and help them without first loving God. Don't subordinate the finite from the infinite.

In other words, you and I are finite, and the work we do is visible, tangible work. With our minds, perhaps, with our hands, with the skills and gifts God has given us, and with our education and our learning, and all the other things that don't require education--it's finite. Life is very earthly, very down-to-earth, very humdrum, and very boring for some people. But if we subordinate the infinite to the finite, that is idolatry--looking at the creature rather than the Creator.

Search for God above all other things, or else you will miss the deepest reality and the primary purpose of life. Search for God above all other things, or you will miss the deepest reality and the primary purpose of life. Give yourself to God, and you will find a gateway to joy.

Lisa Barry: Being a mother demands a lot of us, doesn't it? There's no clock to punch, no paid vacations, but it's not as though any of us would change it for the world. It's just that we need to be reminded from time to time the value of what we're doing. Our Mother's Day packet is something that fulfills that need. In it there's a tape series that offers mothers practical parenting tips from Elisabeth Elliot and her friend, Arlita Winston. It also includes our tenth anniversary commemorative book called GATEWAY TO JOY: REFLECTIONS THAT DRAW US NEARER TO GOD, and other encouraging reading. Where else are you going to find so many resources that encourage such a life?


We have this packet available for you to purchase, and it's called the MOTHER'S DAY PACKET. Our address is Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or you can call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. You'll find today's offers and much more when you access our Web site at gatewaytojoy.org. Today's program has been a production of Back to the Bible and its outreach is made possible through your kindness and generosity.

I hope you'll join us again tomorrow when Elisabeth contrasts the joys and difficulties of being a mother. That's next time on Gateway To Joy.

 
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