Being a mom. Gotta be one of the most under-appreciated, under-rated, under-encouraged, under-sleeping roles in all of humanity. But in reality, it has got to be one of the most vital, influential, confidence-building, security-enhancing, shape-the-direction-of-a-child’s-life jobs on earth. I know what my mom meant to me. And I know what my wife means to our 5 kids.
I also would assert that being a mom is one of the most essential ministries in the Kingdom of God.
How a mom gives herself away. How a mom encourages selflessness in her kids. How a mom manages a family to be inward in focus or outward in focus. How a mom serves both her family and her community alongside her family. All of these shape the framework of a child that will define the direction and the daily of his or her life for years to come.
When Helen Lee, author of The Missional Mom, contacted me about doing a book swap, I took her up on it quickly and quickly asked her if I could send her some interview questions so as to highlight her book on this book’s blog. She accepted. And here is her “email interview.”
ME: Helen, tell us about your family and daily life as a mom.
HELEN: My family and I live in the suburbs of Chicago; my husband is a professor of music at Moody Bible Institute and a wonderful classical pianist. We have three boys who are 9, 6, and 3 years old, who I am attempting to homeschool! A typical day for us is both hectic and relaxed at the same time. After we are ready for the day, we eat breakfast, practice our music instruments, then do school for the two older boys (the youngest just tags along and learns by osmosis right now). School-time is the hectic part, trying to help each boy as needed; but we are done by 3 p.m. or so and then the boys can just play and enjoy themselves. We try to keep our activities manageable and our afternoons leisurely, so that the kids can have time to play with neighborhood children and just have fun being kids. That is a typical day for us!
ME: What does the word “missional” mean to you in 3 sentences or less?
HELEN: To me, being missional means to embrace your calling as God’s missionary in whatever context he has placed you, and embracing his mission for you as your primary calling in life. For the Christian mother, since that is my primary audience, I want her to understand that once she becomes a mom, her mission does not change! We are all still primarily called to be God’s witnesses (locally and globally) and disciplemakers, and of course for parents the home is the main context in which that happens–but by no means is it intended to be the only one.
ME: What encouragement and what warning would you give to moms about their families engaging with and living in the midst of current culture?
HELEN: First of all, we have to be aware of the significant impact that our cultural contexts can have in our lives; we may be making choices due to these forces without even realizing it. For example, a number of years ago, our family chose to live in the particular neighborhood we do because a number of people in our church lived here, due to its excellent schools and positive reputation. It took writing this book for me to recognize that we were blindly adopting a success narrative for our family and our kids that was more culturally-driven than biblically-driven. We were following the notion that being good parents meant we needed to live in a “safe” neighborhood with quality schools so that our kids could be well-educated and have opportunities to go to a good college and get a good job one day. Where does that narrative come from? It isn’t Scriptural; it is very upper- and middle-class American. Of course, American culture provides us with many other positive messages, too: valuing hard work, for example, and pursuing excellence in what we do. But we must always hold these values up to the light of Scripture and ask ourselves what our motivations are for the choices we make for ourselves and our children.
ME: You write that “the missional mom doesn’t ‘do evangelism.'” I happen to agree with you, but unpack that briefly for folks who might be reading this.
HELEN: A few years ago, I was asked to write a chapter on this topic, so my first step was to go to the Bible and see what it says about evangelism. I was completely surprised to discover that the word does not exist in the Bible! You can find the word “evangelist,” but “evangelism” is a word that the church has created over time to describe the programs and processes of introducing people to Christ. For many people, the word evokes feelings of fear and insecurity. So I jokingly say that we are not called to do something that isn’t even in the Bible! Of course, evangelistic activity is clearly depicted in Scripture. But I am trying to help the typical Christian mom to recognize that whenever she takes the opportunity to connect in a deeper relational way with someone who is not a Christian, she is being “evangelistic.” She is helping them to see Christ in her through her expressions of care and friendship. Moms are actually some of the most evangelistic people around, because they are already highly relational.
ME: What are 3 suggestions to moms to enable them to create a missional family?
HELEN: Discuss together with your spouse and your children if they are old enough how, as a family, you could have a more missional presence in three areas: 1) locally; 2) regionally, and 3) globally. As you together consider the needs around your family, and as you prayerfully ask God to reveal how he might want to be using you in those three spheres, you’ll discover a shared sense of calling towards a person or people, or to an area or areas of need. Perhaps you will focus locally, perhaps you will focus on needs in your community, perhaps you will be led to focus on global needs. Each family’s mission will be different and uniquely tailored to their strengths and gifts. The main point is to help your family have an outward orientation and to constantly be asking yourselves, “Lord, how do you want to use us as a family to have an impact on the people and world around us?” A family that is consistently asking that question together will naturally live more missionally.
ME: What are a few other resources you would suggest to moms that are learning the ways of Jesus and wanting to live on mission with Him?
HELEN: So many terrific practitioners and thinkers are writing about the missional life these days, it’s hard to just select a few. But I would encourage people to read David Platt’s Radical; anything by Alan Hirsch, such as Untamed which he wrote with his wife Deb; Scot McKnight’s The Jesus Creed and One Life are both wonderful. Those are good places to start!
THANKS SO MUCH HELEN!!!
You can read Helen’s blog by clicking here. You can purchase her book in paperback by clicking here. You can purchase it in Kindle by clicking here. And you can check out Moody Publishers who released the book by clicking here.
With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, please, please, please, if you are blessed to still be able to call her up or pay a visit, make sure to thank your mom for how she gave herself away. If you are a mom reading this, I hope you will be encouraged both in how you live sent to your kids as well as in how you lead your kids to live sent daily.
Much love! Happy Mother’s Day!!!