taking the words of Jesus seriously

Within evangelical culture, many mothers of young children have received a blanket assurance that “motherhood is mission.”

Maybe when a mother was leaving a job she loved, or wiping human excrement out of car seat upholstery, or missing book club because she had a sick kid, a well-meaning soul told her that motherhood was “mission.” And as she handed her keys to her boss, or finished reading the book she should have already read for book club, or dropped dirty brown paper towels into the garbage, there was nothing she wanted to believe more.

But in our hearts, some of us have sort of wondered. We’ve wondered whether or not setting up wooden train tracks, yet again, or wiping oatmeal off the table or driving across town to the new water park is really “missional.”  Necessary? Yes. Significant? Absolutely.  Sacrificial? Without a doubt. Whether or not mothering our children is “missional, ” though, depends on how we’re defining it. (One definition: here, with the big idea being that, grounded in Christ, we get outside of ourselves to move toward others.)

Maybe the way I parent my children is missional. But I have to confess that it’s equally possible that an insular life which revolves around my privileged nuclear family could, in fact, be the polar opposite of missional.

Oh gosh…I am feeling better already. Just to get it out there.

I’m not going to go into a lot of details about the privileged insular existence, both because I’ve practiced it and also because I can get ugly and judgie. My husband will be quick to confirm on both counts.

I’d much prefer to share a couple of moms who are on the right track…

1.     Tracey Bianchi, author of Green Mama, shares lots of ways mom can help their kids change the world.

2.     Shayne Moore, author of Global Soccer Mom, is joining with other mamas to change the world through the One campaign.

3.     Monica Selby has great ideas about how home public/private-schooling & homeschooling mamas can be missional.

Mothering is missional when we, and our children, either leave the four walls of our safe dwelling to encounter a world in need or when we invite that world to join us inside the walls.

Mothering is missional when we decide not to mindlessly prioritize our children’s well-being over the well-being of children with fewer resources.

Mothering is missional when my children and I encounter and embrace the ones God loves who are decidedly different than we are.

All mothering isn’t missional simply because someone—wanting to make the necessary drudgery a little easier to swallow?—announced that it was so.

Mothering is missional when it’s missional.

Margot Starbuck is a speaker, volunteer, and author of The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail. Her new book, Small Things With Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor will be released in January 2012.

About The Author


Margot Starbuck—author, collaborator and speaker—earned an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Bachelor's from Westmont College. She’s convinced that because God, in Jesus Christ, is with us and for us, we’ve been made to be with and for others. So she’s passionate about equipping folks to love our (sometimes unlikely) neighbors and is the author of seven books and collaborator on others. She enjoys speaking to audiences around the country that include: Messiah College, MOPs International, Young Life Women’s Weekend, Urban Promise Ministry Summit and Wheaton College Center for the Application of Christian Ethics. Margot lives downtown Durham, North Carolina, with her three teens.

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