Fourteen years ago, God graciously chose to give me a gift—the gift of motherhood. When I found out about that gift, I diligently prepared to receive it. I sought counsel from other mothers, read recommended books on the subject, and did what I knew to prepare myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Of course, every mother will tell you that you can never be fully prepared for that moment you lay your eyes on that miracle that had been growing inside you the past nine months.
I was not raised in a Christian home, so I was even more compelled to study what Scripture has to say on motherhood. As I read, studied, meditated, and prayed, I was more and more convinced that our children are gifts from our loving Heavenly Father, lent to us for only a short time to teach and train for His honor and glory. Children are our little disciples and Jesus is our ultimate example of a disciple maker. He spent virtually all of his time with his disciples, patiently teaching them on their maturity level, explaining more thoroughly when they asked questions, and leading by example. Toward the end of their time together, he let them go out on their own, allowing them to make mistakes, but being there to comfort and to help them get up again when they fell.
The Lord blessed my husband and me with one gift after another, three in four years to be exact! As our little stair steps grew, I had the joy of staying home with them, reading to them, playing with them, and often letting them “help” me shop, garden, cook, and clean. Of course, we had our good days and not-so-good days. I often felt like a broken record, repeating instructions over and over. However, as we stayed consistent in our discipline, our days were filled with more joy than distress, more order than chaos.
As the time came for our oldest to begin school, choosing to homeschool was only a natural extension of what we had already been doing–memorizing Scripture, finger painting, reading Bible stories, playing with blocks, listening to music, observing nature, and just constantly conversing. (Socially, our children had each other and their church friends to play with, and honestly, I would much rather that my young disciple learn his manners and vocabulary from his mother than from another fellow heathen!)
The early school years are filled with so many exciting discoveries, “What sound does the snake make? What does cornmeal feel like in my hands? How many things can I find around the house that begin with the ‘letter of the day’? If I have three cookies and I give one away, how many do I have left?”
Later, we move on to more formal schooling, putting letters together to make words, learning our math facts, books of the Bible, and how civilization began. In all of these subjects, God is the central focus, because I remember that my purpose is to teach and train our three borrowed gifts for His honor and glory.
Only by God’s grace have we come this far! When I accepted the gift of motherhood, and later the challenge of homeschooling, little did I know that my oldest would have severe dyslexia and need intense personal tutoring. But, oh the joy when he finally learned his alphabet, then to sound out words, and now to read entire books on his own! Little did I know how we would discover how special God made him — how even though he had such difficulty reading letters from left to right, he could perfectly read the little black dots called musical notes and become a talented pianist! There is an indescribable joy in achieving these victories together with your children!
Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, says in 3 John verse 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Even more important than reading, writing, and arithmetic, is the mission of disciple making. Spiritual character training supersedes academics because “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). As a disciple maker, my goal is to raise children who will be useful servants for the Kingdom of God. To me, that means they must not only be educated in the basic school subjects, but also know how to manage a home, work with tools, minister in their local church, love their neighbor, and love God most of all.
It is this aspect of mothering that really keeps me on my toes! Every day the Holy Spirit reminds me that I cannot expect my disciples to learn to love God if they do not see that love manifested in my own life. My own devotional life is not an option. I must be continually studying, learning, and growing in my own Christian walk if I expect the same of my pupils.
“They need an unwavering, internal moral and spiritual compass that will help them weather today’s storms and tomorrow’s and will guide them for the rest of their lives. They also need to see what real faith looks like when lived day in, day out; so they will have a pattern to follow.
The process of providing such gifts to my children is what I’ve come to think of as the ministry of motherhood. I believe it’s central to the calling of anyone God has privileged to bring children into this world.
If you are a mother, it’s your ministry too.”
~Sally Clarkson, The Ministry of Motherhood
Only a few more years, and my full-time job as homeschooling mother will be over. In this career, my future holds no “Teacher of the Year” awards, promotions, nor salary raises. The greatest reward for me would be to accomplish my stated objective: that my children would leave home, entering the world willing and fully prepared to serve God. That is how I say “thank you” to my Heavenly Father for the three precious gifts He has loaned me.