Saturday, May 08, 2010

Motherhood - Integrating Faith and Work

Even in Christian circles, most discussions about work and faith tend to focus on our work as "professionals" - teacher, scientist, businessman, social worker, software developer,etc... When we limit our discussion to the realm of our professional career, we miss out on much of the work we do in our other roles as neighbor, father, daughter, citizen... and mothers.

On Mother's Day, the honor we lavish on mothers for the faithful love and nurturing of their families is absolutely appropriate. However, we sometimes overlook the sheer hard work, mothers put into the glorious call of mothering. In fact, the oft-quoted Proverbs 31 calls attention to the faithful, labor of the exemplary wife and mother. It's not just the finer attributes of her character that are admired but also her industry and initiative -

She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands. v. 13
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household.... v. 15
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. v. 27

This excellent woman is also commended for what can best be described as an entrepreneurial spirit, coupling it with the willingness to work hard.

She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard. v. 16
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. v. 18
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchants. v. 24

I can't help but think of how this spirit of willing labor and creative initiative is evident in the mothers around me. My own mother was extremely hard working, always laboring to make a better life for her family. And now, I see similar traits of selfless service in my wife who seems to always put the needs of everyone in the family above her own. The work of mothers is typically not the focus of books written about Christian perspectives on work. Unfortunately, this kind of labor is often assumed and seldom appreciated - but it is exactly the kind of labor that exemplifies well the intersection of faith and work. It is the kind of work that God honors and rewards - not just on Mother's Day, but everyday.

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