Man, I use that word a lot. Like, all the time. It is the one word I might overuse. It’s my go-to advice for all things parenting. I can’t really apologize or say I will let up though because I have found being intentional to be the key component to so many things. If you look up the definition it says, “done on purpose, deliberate, calculated”. These are all the things that put us in a posture to meet our goals.
When it comes to parenting our kids, we need to do it with the end goal in sight. If we know where we want to go, and what we want to accomplish and what we must do to get there, and how much time it will take, if we are intentional, then we will most likely experience the satisfaction of knowing that we have done our best to reach the prize.
When my babies were born, I had the instinct to protect and shelter them. I also had the desire to give them the whole world and every happiness in it and every advantage that could be had. Those seemed like the noblest of goals and what any “good” mother would do. It seemed like providing them with all the things they wanted and sheltering their sweet little tender hearts from any hurt, injustice, pain (real or imagined), or disappointment would be the ultimate win. My end goal at that time was to raise happy, healthy, and successful humans.
In my early mommy days, I was simultaneously on a very personal journey with the Lord. I was reading and studying my Bible and getting to know Jesus as someone who desired an intimate relationship with me. The journey was fresh and exciting and ultimately led to me fully surrendering my life to him and dying to myself. I have come to know that dying to myself, selfish desires, and pride brings me closer to the Lord and satisfies my heart like nothing else. Things don’t do it for me. Although I tried to fill myself with them. I also thought if I looked like “her” I would be happy and my husband would be happier. I strived for the life that looked like we had it all together. If I made good choices to get me to the place I wanted to be, that had to be the will of God, right? Good people, good life?
Well, Jesus calls us to surrender all of that and follow him.
Follow him into a life of sacrifice, surrender, giving, selfish abandoned love, daily faith, and trust in him. He says in return we will have eternal life and a relationship with him face to face. He says the road will be full of joy, but also sorrow and suffering. I chose that for myself because I searched and found nothing else on this earth worthy of “spending” my whole one precious life on. And because I chose that for me, I also chose it for my kids and embarked on the road of missional motherhood-having a purpose and a focus on mission and calling.
In the early years, my husband and I re-evaluated our parenting with the end goal in mind. First, we looked at how we were living and parenting. We were working hard to have well-behaved kids who did well in school, lived in a Pinterest-worthy home, wore the cool clothes, and appeared in public to be on their way to academic and athletic success. We were subtly protecting them from all discomfort and sadness and hurt feelings and harsh realities of life. We even thought that we could protect their lifestyle and health. We asked ourselves, even if we could control all those things and protect them from “life” should we? Is that what the gospel called us to?
The mission of my motherhood has become to raise kids in a Christ-centered home so that they could learn about God and his character in a safe place where they could be loved and learn to love. A place where they could learn the art of forgiveness and see how to give themselves away by watching me and their dad model that before them. Our end goal is that they would be image bearers of Jesus, being disciples and making disciples.
We stayed close to the heart of God and exercised our faith. I love that phrase, exercise our faith.
That draws to mind an image of working it out, no-pain no-gain, strength building. My husband vividly remembers a very sobering prayer time where he and God wrestled a bit and he came to the realization that our firstborn son was on loan to us and not ours to mold into our image, but His. We prayerfully and sensitively let some disappointments and childish mistakes shape character. We exercised our faith in God and took our kids on mission trips around the globe. We challenged them to develop a godly worldview. We let natural consequences do their work.
And of course, we made about a million mistakes along the way. A million.
To wrap it up, I want to leave you with this. Missional motherhood is defined by being intentional and focused on the goal of raising kids who know what it looks like to live for Jesus and serve others with their lives. Model it for them. Don’t protect them from the harsh realities of life but teach them to keep their eyes on Jesus through the challenges. Don’t make your kids the center of your universe. Don’t protect your kids from too much, trust Jesus to take care of them, and remember that his heart is for them and you.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com