One day my daughter Morgan told me she had a big surprise for me. She opened her little hands and revealed three of the biggest rhinestones in her “treasure chest”. “They are for you Mommy!” she exclaimed as she just beamed with delight. I put them in my jewelry box and gushed over them as if they were real gemstones. As she got more rhinestones out of her craft box to bring to me, I realized that to Morgan these gifts were not just acrylic rhinestones that cost less than a dollar at any craft store. On the contrary…these were her most prized possessions and she was giving them to me!
Since I was young I have heard the parable of the talents, however, I missed an important aspect. In Matthew 25:14-30, a man entrusts talents to 3 different servants. “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”
The first two servants were faithful and doubled their talents, so they both received the very same reward (vv. 21, 23). Although one came back with 10 talents and the other came back with 4, they were both given the same reward from their master….Why is that?
The passage illustrates that God is much more concerned about how faithful we are with what He has given us than our perceived sphere of influence. The Christian who is faithful in his or her area of service, though it may seem smaller in human terms, will get the same reward as the person who is also faithful with a “larger” ministry. In other words a businessman who strives to honor God in his business dealings will receive a greater reward than a mega-church pastor that is serving half-heartedly.
Often times as a stay at home mom, I feel like my influence in God’s kingdom is pretty benign. I have come to realize that while I deeply desire to make a BIG influence in God’s Kingdom, I find myself using the world’s definition of “big”. I forget to focus on what God sees as valuable. The world values the bright, shiny “flash in the pan” ministry idea, but God values the kind of patience and faithfulness of a mom who raises children to honor Him – much like fanning a small flame until it is ready to burn bright into eternity. Motherhood is not fast or easy but done in a way that glorifies God, it has a profound eternal effect in God’s Kingdom.
It can be so easy to visualize what we THINK God has planned for our lives only to see that God might want to use us in a completely different way. The apostle Paul is a perfect example. He was raised to be a Hebrew among Hebrews and studied under the famous pharisee Gamaliel. He was one of the most prestigious Pharisees of his day. After his conversion, I can see how Paul might have thought his ministry would be to the Jews because of His background. However, that is not what God had in mind. God gave Him the opportunity to minister to the Gentiles, and Paul was faithful to follow, writing 14 books of the New Testament (if you include Hebrews).
There are days that my only opportunities to honor God are through housework or parenting. However, it is not about what you are doing but the fact that you are faithful and using the opportunities He gives you. Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” If I am scrubbing a toilet and doing housework to honor Him, this has more weight than gold in His spiritual economy.
God wants us to give Him our best- whatever that may be. My pastor’s opportunity on a Sunday is to preach to a congregation, but my opportunity on a Sunday might be to be a Godly example to my daughter as we get ready for church. Our audiences are different but what is important is being faithful with the role God gives us.
As I look back, I realize the most difficult phases in my life were necessary times of preparation that were necessary in order to be ready for the next phase. The ministry opportunities you have now will be different than the ones in the future, so make the most of this opportunity. The lessons you are learning are probably critical to the next phase.
If you are a mom, whether of one child or ten, you are in the trenches of ministry and you have the opportunity now to make an eternal impact. Andy Stanley once wrote, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” Know that God has you in this season for a purpose and he has NOT forgotten about you. He sees every nose you wipe and every diaper you change and, ironically, your service is a fragrant offering to Him.
In Matthew 26, a woman breaks open an alabaster flask of precious perfume to rub on Jesus’ feet. This perfume bottle could only be broken open once and probably costed a year’s wages. More than likely, it was her most valued possession. She gave Jesus her best as soon as she had the chance. She didn’t leave the jar of perfume on a shelf to save it for a more lavish get-together. If she had waited, she would have missed the opportunity altogether.
The woman took that opportunity to give the Lord her best in the same way Morgan gave me her best “jewels”. It’s not about the world’s value of what we give Him, but taking the opportunities we have to be faithful to Him. One day in heaven, God will reward such works with precious jewels that we will be able to throw at His feet.