By Elizabeth Prata
Nothing seems more homey than coming into the house and smelling the good smells coming from the kitchen. It’s a warm and comfy feeling to see mom in the kitchen cooking dinner. You feel secure, happy, and at peace. All is right with the world.
My mom was famous for her mashed potatoes. She was among the early ones in our neighborhood to experiment along with Julia Child. Her Pork Loin was noted. My siblings loved her hamburgers and meat loaf. There were a host of other kitchen goodies we ate at home that our mother cooked for us from scratch.
I bet you stopped right now and thought of your mom’s special dish that you loved so much!
I laughed when Michelle Lesley tweeted that her kids asked for chili for supper…only thing is…it was barely out of August….they live in Louisiana … and it was over 100 degrees outside. She tweeted later, “I love my kids, so I made the chili anyway.”
Do you remember asking begging mom for her ____ fill in the blank there. Mom’s homemade cooking is just home.
It is therefore a sadness to me when I see celebrity Christian mothers who neglect their children for the sake of their chosen competing ministry. Moms who don’t have to work outside the home, or are working outside the home even more than career single secular moms in order to build their ministry brand, or to go on a book tour, or to take a social justice trip, and leave their kids behind is just too regrettable.
Jennifer Foster, wife of Pastor Jeremy Foster, co-pastors of America’s fastest-growing church, Hope City Church in Houston. She and her husband Jeremy have 5 children. She said the following in a written interview:
Interview Question: With a large (and growing) family, how do you personally make sure that you’re not taking on too much?
Jennifer: Practical stuff like date nights are crucial. Our family comes together around the dinner table every day (even if it’s take out, which it usually is). 😊 The last thing I’ll say on this is that I believe we have our priorities right. It’s Jesus at the center and then we build out from there, our marriage, our kids and then our church.
Jesus is not at the center when a wife believes she is a pastor, and when her ministerial duties take her away from the home to the extent that she says that hers does, and when time with the children has to be scheduled around a bucket of takeout. A mom’s ministry IS the children.
Yet sadly, this model of a family lifestyle of Christian moms is continually presented as normal no thanks to secular AND Christian media sources. Their subtle feminist message is, celebrity minister moms working outside the home is OK, as long as you claim to love Jesus and call it ministry.
Beth Moore of Living Proof Ministries, interviewed by The Atlantic Magazine noted the same:
Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity. Her days are tightly scheduled and obsessively focused on writing. She spends hours alone in an office decorated with a Bible verse written in a swirling font (“I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven,” Luke 7:47). Though she often performs domestic femininity for her audience, in her own life she has balanced motherhood with demanding professional ambitions. She traveled every other weekend while her two daughters were growing up—they told me they ate a lot of takeout.
‘Mom is gone on another book tour, how about some KFC, kids?’ Does that sound as homey to a five-year-old as it could be? Being present with and for the children and husband should be the mom’s ‘obsession,’ or at least, acceptance of a gift and a role given by God as best for the family.
Raechael Myers, founder of the IF: Gathering gushed in an Instagram post (in 2014),
My husband just texted me this photo of the kids watching our @shereadstruth interview at the @ifgathering. Seeing my baby girl perched on the table watching her mommy talk about her Jesus- so blessed!!!! #SheReadsTruth #ifgathering
Yes, because that’s how to minister to your children, leaving your husband at home to do the mommying, and texting about your kids watching mom through a screen.
Many of these celebrity ministering moms, and there do seem to be many of them, if criticized, refer to Proverbs 31 as their basis for doing what they do.
Proverbs 31 is by King Lemuel, from an oracle his mother taught him. This part of the proverb extols the virtues of an excellent wife and mother, as the husband’s confidence in her increases (Proverbs 31:11). She works very hard and carefully provides for her household and those within it.
But rather than interpreting the salient portion of the Proverb as understanding the value and godliness of a wife and mother who devotes herself in a large sphere to her ministry-home and hearth, they take it to mean that a wife can and should be entrepreneurial outside the home, even if her merchandising competes with it.
–She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (Proverbs 31:16)
–She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. (Proverbs 31:24)
While dad is the leader in the house, mother sets the tone. The hours her children spend in her presence will have a lasting influence on their lives. They will become largely what she makes them. She faces the noble challenge of molding their young lives for eternity. Motherhood is one of life’s highest honors, and one of its heaviest responsibilities. The Majesty of Motherhood
God gives the woman a husband and opens her womb to bear children. When He chooses to bless the wife with progeny, it changes the dynamic and the lifestyle of the woman. The mother alters her orientation now toward the home, almost exclusively.
Can anyone serve two masters? (Matthew 6:24). Are there two masters in the home? Two co-authorities? As in the worse case scenario of couples like the Fosters, co-pastors?
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not opposed to mothers who need to work outside the home, or where the husband-and-wife have made considered and biblical decisions for her to do so. Normally, a mother’s primary orientation however, is supposed to be toward the home. The Proverbs verses, especially the two I’d shared above, demonstrate a wife & mother’s thoughtful consideration of how to personally, emotionally, and financially invest in her family, not sacrifice her family for her own ministry or career.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not judging buying takeout. Who doesn’t like an occasional pizza on a Friday night? Who doesn’t like some takeout for the Big Game? Takeout is not bad in and of itself. Not at all.
I know that there are sincere and loving stay-at-home mothers relying on takeout simply because the children are over-scheduled and it’s easier to grab a burger at the drive-thru on the way to the game/practice/rehearsal/dance/piano/voice lessons…
But, when takeout as opposed to a nourishing homemade dinner cooked with love is the consistent default, then becomes a symbol of something wrong in the home.
Nevertheless, Proverbs 31 is a high model of a devoted wife and mother. Her job is not easy and it is often thankless, for a while. How wonderful it is when the mother cooks dinner and settles in to read to her kids and tuck them into bed at night, she sets the tone of security, love, and warmth that will last them a lifetime. When her children grow up she will have provided them a model of enduring ministry that will last them a lifetime, and then they will thank her by caring for their own children the same way. When she meets Christ, she will earn His accolade for a well done service of a good and faithful servant.