The Motherhood of Ministry

What I Continue To Learn About Discipleship From Being A Parent

I'm watching the kids on my own tonight while my wife attends the Women of Faith conference with some ladies from our church. I wanted to share about a powerful moment I had with God after putting my kids down for bed. He taught me something invaluable about discipleship and ministry, and I think it will encourage you.

He showed me that ministry is like motherhood. 

Motherhood? Did I just say motherhood? 

In know, I know, I’m not the most qualified person to be talking about motherhood, but I have gained some much needed perspective over the last couple of days. I am beginning to see how hard my wife works every day to take care of our children. She invests in them persistently, consistently, and sacrificially without expectation of immediate reward or recognition.

This is motherhood. 

And this is ministry.

In ministry we invest countless hours into people to see them "grow up" in Christ. We want to keep them safe from the enemy’s schemes and do everything in our power to help them reach their fullest potential in life. 

But just like with our children, we can't always see the growth happening under the surface. We might get little breakthroughs along the way, but for the most part, it takes a lifetime of consistency to produce mature adult children.

The same is true with making disciples.

It takes longevity and daily resolve to see people transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. I think we get discouraged sometimes because we forget the impact we actually have on people. Partially because positive relational impact is all too often unappreciated.

Thus the saying, “motherhood is a thankless job.”

I think we could easily substitute the word motherhood and say, “ministry is a thankless job.” 

Now please don’t read into this. I’m not looking for sympathy here or for anyone to start sending me thank you letters, I’m simply stating a fact about the harsh reality of making disciples. 

Remember Jesus and the 10 lepers? How many did He heal again? 

Oh, that’s right…all of them. 

How many came back to say thank you?

One. 

Yep, that’s right. 

One. 

Can you imagine? 

Only one came back and said, “hey, thanks for healing me.” [Luke 17:15-16]

This is the type of stuff Jesus faced in ministry, and we will too.

So what’s the point of this post Rob? I thought you said this was suppose to be encouraging!?

Ok, here’s the punch line: God never forgets the investment you make in others for the sake of the kingdom. He knows what you pour out because He’s the one pouring in. Jesus knows what it’s like to literally lose everything for the sake of ministry. The same people He ministered to were the one's spitting in His face and yelling “crucify him.” 

He wasn’t in ministry for the accolades.

He was in ministry to see His children make it home. 

No matter the cost.

We don’t raise our kids to see instant impact and overnight transformation. We don’t raise our kids to find worth and value in ourselves. And we certainly don’t raise our kids to hear “thank you” when it’s all said and done.

We raise our kids because we love them.

Period.

We want them to “have life, and have it to the full.” [John 10:10] 

So, why don’t we see discipleship the same way? We need to remember this when it comes to ministry and remain diligent in shaping other's into Christlike maturity even when we feel discouraged, defeated, or under-appreciated.

Like Jesus, we’re not in ministry to hear “thank you."

We’re in ministry to hear “well done.” [Matt. 25:21]

Oh and by the way...you’re making a bigger impact than you think. Allow God to encourage you by taking some time to reflect on all the lives you have touched. There are individuals who have changed the entire trajectory of their lives because of your investment. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember.

Rob