When Beach Dad was a youth minister, we had our large youth group meetings in a room that also served as a Sunday School classroom. Every week, we had to meet at the church an hour or two before the meeting started to do things like put away the Sunday School tables and chairs and decorate the room for youth group.
There was one leader who, nearly every week, missed the setup time and showed up just in time for the actual youth group meeting to start, with a different reason for missing setup each time. Finally, when my husband asked her about it and reminded her that part of the youth leader commitment was to help each week, she answered: “I just don’t feel called to move chairs. I really want to meet with the girls one-on-one and to lead their Bible study and to come play the games at youth group meetings, but I just don’t feel called to move chairs. So, I think I’ll just skip that part.”
You don’t feel called to move chairs?!?!
After our initial annoyance, we decided it was simply hilarious. Is there really anyone who feels specifically called to move chairs? Did my husband decide to be a youth minister so he could move chairs? Did I volunteer with the youth group so I could get my weekly chair-moving fix?
Of course not! But, moving chairs was a part of loving the students and making the ministry happen. “Moving chairs” became our reminder to each other that ministry often happens in the little moments.
I was telling someone that story recently, in the context of ministry, and my story basically slapped me on the side of my head.
So. Much. of motherhood is moving chairs. I make meals, I clean dishes and do laundry, I change diapers, I organize and re-organize toys…. And it can be so easy for me to grumble, to say “I want to play with my kids and teach them how to be kind, independent people and to love Jesus, not to do their dirty dishes or clean poop out of the bathtub. I’m just not called to clean poop out of a bathtub!”
Of course that’s not why I became a mom. As I’ve dreamed of parenting my whole life, I haven’t been thinking “And then I’ll get to make another dinner, just like I did last night! And then I’ll get to wash another load of laundry. Maybe I’ll even get to remove some stains from clothes! What a calling!”
But, as I fulfill my calling as mommy, so much of my day-to-day looks like those mundane tasks. Sure, I have daily one-on-one times with my girls and I get to play games with them and teach them how to love people and love God. But, the majority of my time is spent doing little, seemingly-trivial tasks like moving chairs.
Often, I feel discouraged by that and like motherhood is a bit of a letdown in the glamour department. Or, I feel like if only I were better organized, I wouldn’t have to clean up so much. If only…
I tend to focus on the more dramatic moments like explaining the Gospel or taking my daughter to get a cast for her broken ankle (poor girl!) as the real defining moments of motherhood.
But the reality is that the routine, messy tasks of mothering are just as important as the special, dramatic moments. In fact, since they add up to be so much more of our time, maybe they’re even more important than the dramatic moments?
As I serve my family and clean their dishes, their laundry, and their diapers, I’m not only making our house livable, I’m giving my daughters an example of what it looks like to serve Jesus, to live my life out for Him even in the mundane. I’m stumbling through overcoming my own selfishness to put their needs before mine and to repent when I (frequently) fail to do that well. I’m relying on Him to change my heart from a grumbling heart to a joyfully serving one, more and more like His. I’m looking to Him for my example of what it means to really love people. And, just like when Jesus knelt down and washed His disciples’ feet or multiplied a small amount of food to provide for a multitude of people, I’m showing my precious children that I love them and that, only because of Jesus, I want to and am able to serve them.
Perhaps, one of my most effective forms of ministry and witness to my family occurs when I’m simply moving chairs.
I’m linking up to The Better Mom.