Cultivating a Servant’s Heart as a Mother

mom helping daughter

Do you ever feel that some of the duties of motherhood are not quite what you expected? Or that many of the mundane and trivial tasks are not what you thought you were signing up for?

This weekend I was reading “The Mission of Motherhood” by Sally Clarkson and one chapter in particular just hit me over the head. I am perpetually in awe of the way that the Holy Spirit can guide us to read the very thing that we need to hear, at just the right moment, that will meet us right where we’re at and challenge us to grow more like Christ.

Sally was sharing about a day that began busily– a birthday party, a special outing with friends, grocery shopping and errands, etc. By late afternoon she began to make plans to sit and refresh herself with a cup of tea for 15 minutes, before she carried on with putting away the food and making dinner for her family.

Yet every time she went to take her few minutes of relaxation with her coveted cup of tea, an interruption arose… a child wanted to show her something, a phone call from her young adult with car troubles, a teenager that needed her help, her husband’s reminder of a child in need of a ride, a specific missing tee shirt that needed to be found amidst the piles of laundry for an event that evening.

As you may have already guessed, she never got around to that cup of tea, nor the moments of peace and quiet that she hoped would accompany it.

Glancing up at her fridge in the midst of these busy moments, full of interruptions and distractions, she saw these words, “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant of all!” and she wondered whether to pitch the paper in the recycling bin or to simply laugh at the Lord’s sense of humor!

I, too, laughed at the Lord’s sense of humor as I read this chapter because I could have easily written about a day like Sally’s this weekend. Subtract the teenage children, but then add in three hungry homestay students needing early breakfasts and bagged lunches, sprinkle in some toddler potty accidents, baby diaper changes, 5 year old boo-boos, umpteen glasses of spilled water, a husband who was gone nearly all weekend, and a very worn and weary mama, and I also found myself longing for moments of rest and restoration.

Here’s what Sally had to say about the moments that make up our days as mothers:

“When it comes to motherhood, I like the idea of being a mom who inspires my children to great accomplishments in medicine (developing the cure for cancer) or statesmanship (a future president of the United States) or the arts (a Christian movie producer). The everyday realities of running a household just don’t have the same appeal.

But such humdrum activities, of course, comprise the majority of a mother’s experience. Before I had children, I never realized this. I really had no clue that admiring a Beanie Baby’s pen, taking a picture, finding a T-shirt, and helping to unlock a gas cap would be the kinds of sacrificial acts required of me most often while I attempted to fulfill the mission of motherhood.

As I have grown through the past eighteen years of motherhood, however, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the many thousands of routine moments in a mother’s life, for it is in these moments that real greatness tends to be taught and caught. It is certainly important to grasp the great calling of motherhood and respond to a vision for what a family can be.

But it’s the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts… and if I approach them with a servant’s heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life.”Β  The Mission of Motherhood, pg. 62-63

What a beautiful reminder that these everyday, mundane moments and actions with our children are opportunities for us to serve them with the love of Christ, in ways that will ultimately shape and mold them into children who will also have a heart to serve and who will make a difference for Christ’s Kingdom.

How I long to be a more faithful servant and mother, doing all that the Lord has for me (with joy!) no matter how trivial it may seem!

What do you think it means to practice servanthood as a mother? How do you keep the tasks of motherhood in perspective when you become weary and overwhelmed?

Image by E.Yoshio

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  1. Just what I needed to read right now – like you said, the Holy Spirit has ways of placing an important message before us at just the right time. Thank you:)

  2. Sometimes when I’m facing a lot of demands, Paul’s words where he said (paraphrase) that I am even now being poured out as a drink offering come to mind. πŸ™‚ I feel that way, that I am physcially being poured out. But that same feeling comes with a sense of rightness, and so that even though I think those thoughts when I am most tired, they bring to me a sense of peace. It is what I was called to do. It feels right, even when it feels hard.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I think its funny that I received the book “the ministry of motherhood” as part of my prize from the FBS giveaway you did. It just arrived last week and I spent some time reading it. Its just what I was looking for! What a great book!

  4. Thank you for this post. I was just feeling the same way this weekend. Weekends that are always full of activities, with two preschoolers and a baby in the belly. I find myself tire enough as it is just being pregnant and teaching fitness classes all week long. So when the time comes to run around after the littles, it is sometimes difficult to keep my perspective and remain patient with them. I constantly catch myself NOT being my “best”, but its hard sometimes. This reminder of why I do this is just what I needed today. Thank you!!

  5. How wonderful it was to read this today. I have a 7 week old baby and the exhaustion of nursing and busyness is catching up to me and I find myself losing my joy and patience. What a great read, thank you!

  6. these words are such an encouragement for me … i loved that book of sally clarkson’s and received such inspiration and refreshment in her words. thank you for sharing this quote – it is right on time!

    for me, this week, serving means speaking with grace and patience while instructing in the menial, small details … not raising my voice and growing irritated while teaching my 10 yr old daughter the specific steps in taking over laundry responsibilities, for instance. imparting instruction with grace – that is servanthood in action for me, this week!

  7. Ah yes, I just shut myself out of the house and am on the porch with my lap top – just so I could get a little quiet! I saw this post in the morning and have been wanting to read it all day, but have only just had the chance, because of all the reasons mentioned in it πŸ™‚

    And can I say, I LOVE Sally Clarkson. I had the opportunity to hear her speak last year and was so very encouraged by it. She is real and motivated and determined. Love her! I think you are real and motivated and determined too Stephanie. Thanks for sharing and encouraging.

  8. I do enjoy most of my tasks. If I get bored with them, I switch them up and try to do them in a new way. When I get tired of meal planning, I hand my binder with my meals list to my husband and say “Tell me what you want to eat.” It still gets done but I have some help and interaction. (As I’m typing, my 2-year-old is bringing me “cake” to eat on a spoon, lol — pretend.)

    And when I’m feeling annoyed, I actually go on Facebook and look at my high school classmates’ pages — the single, childless ones. I look at how they have quiet evenings, they sleep all night, and they go party on the weekends. And I pity that life. It seems very empty and sad to me, and it makes me very grateful for the family that I have even when they are driving me crazy!

  9. Thanks for writing this! My daughter’s turning 7 months soon and I’ve been feeling utterly worn out lately. I never thought of motherhood as servanthood! Now that you put it in that perspective, mundane tasks seem a little easier to accomplish. Praise Jesus πŸ™‚

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