Whether they are in the workforce or stay home many feel guilty. Why?
It is probably a really dumb idea for a guy to try and tackle such an important subject for women. The only reason I bring it up is that it seems like such a “walking on eggshells” topic. People typically have very definite opinions and sometimes offer harsh judgements towards one choice or the other. I recently conducted a very unscientific facebook query mostly to determine the level of emotion associated with the topic. Of course facebook does not provide unbiased results. Most of our friends on facebook probably share similar viewpoints to our own. That’s why they are our “friends.” However, even among ‘friends” this topic provides what I consider a volatile diversity of opinion.
One interesting trend I have noted as a pastor, counselor, husband, and friend is that in general, whether mothers choose to work or stay home, they feel a level of guilt associated with the decision. Again, I am generalizing here. Some work and feel no guilt. Some stay at home and feel no guilt. Generally however, moms that work feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children and mom’s that stay home feel guilty about not using their college degree or their professional skills to contribute to the family finances.
The choice in and of itself is not so cut and dry. Some mom’s have to work just to make ends meet. Some mothers work because a man put them in a bad situation. Some mom’s choose to work for a variety of other reasons and some choose to stay home with differing degrees of financial sacrifice. In any case, the guilt is still generally apparent. My question is why?
Why Christian Mothers Feel Guilty?
I run the risk of oversimplifying a complicated issue but allow me to make some observations.
Some Working Christian moms feel guilty for several reasons:
• Some “stay at home proponents” in the church pass judgements heaping guilt on their heads.
• They love their children and want to stay home with them but they can’t.
• They love their professional life more than they love their home life and they feel they shouldn’t.
• They are experiencing real conviction because their choices are motivated by sin.
Some Stay at home Christian moms feel guilty for several reasons:
• They are sometimes jokingly labeled as stupid and unproductive.
• They earned a degree and feel like they wasted a lot of energy if they were “just” going to stay home.
• Feminism, which dominates media and education, creates a cultural bias against stay at home moms.
• They could feel genuine conviction for being lazy or because they make the family an idol.
How Can You Overcome Guilt?
One word. Abide. No matter the issue, guilt stems from a disconnection from Christ that effects our will and emotions. Take time now and read John 15. The chapter details the benefits of abiding with Christ. Here is my favorite part.
“As the Father has loved me so I love you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” -John 15:9-11
When we abide in Christ we are choosing to do life His way. When we do life his way, guilt goes away and instead we have joy. The big question is what commandments must I keep? Jesus answers the question.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:12
Therefore love trumps all. When we abide we receive love from the Father and freely love others in a sacrificial way. This is the pattern of a guilt free life. How does that apply to our original question… To work or not to work? The question can only be answered by asking this. “In what way can I best love the others in my life as I abide in Christ? By working outside the home or by staying home? Depending on situations and circumstances this answer could be different for different people and different families in differing seasons of life. By the way, the greatest examples of sacrificial love are often seen in motherhood. No question in our family sacrificial love oozes from mom. Be encouraged and abide in Christ. Throw off guilt but embrace conviction. Conviction is His way of telling you its time to reconnect. It’s a good thing. Jesus is your source whether you stay at home or drive to work each day.
My thoughts as a Husband and father of three (count em’ 3) daughters.
Why am I so interested in this subject? My wife and I are raising three daughters that will one day be women, possibly married, possibly with children. How do we lead them?
When our first daughter was born, we decided together that Angie would stay home. We have never had any tension over that because she felt called and excited to be a stay at home mom. Her work at home provides huge benefits for our daughters. I thought we were going to die at first financially because she was the major bread winner as a super smart accountant. We survived and in fact thrived, and for that provision, I am grateful. Angela experiences good days and bad days as a mom just like everyone else. What we have found is that the balance and peace Angela brings to our family outweighs any amount of financial compensation or professional kudos she would get if she were still working for a huge accounting firm. Does that mean she will never work again? Who knows? We just know for now she is called to be home. This is the model that our daughters see demonstrated every day. Likely this family of origin experience will dramatically effect their beliefs about what they should do as a mother.
We came to this decision as we thought about the spiritual formation of our children. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 compels us as parents to teach the commands of God to our children as we walk along the road. Our decision for Angela to stay home largely stems from a deep desire to be around in order to influence our children in the mundane, every day of life… as they walk along the road.
So what will we say to our girls? We will say, “Get as much education as you possibly can get. Learn a trade, a profession, a skill. Understand that you and Christ are enough. If Jesus leads you to marry and have children then understand that being a wife and a mother is a high calling. Take into account the Scripture, your relationship with Christ and ask yourself how you can love others best as you abide.”
Ok… let the comments begin. I am braced and ready. Everything above is in love and from a heart that wants moms to experience joy that comes from abiding in Christ and making decisions that are a reflection of that relationship.
37 thoughts on “Christian Moms: Pursue Career or Stay at Home?”
My children are leaving the nest. I have one son left who is 14 and in school. Our financial situation is quite comfortable. However I am finding that going back to work after I haven’t been to work after 20 years is daunting. Plus my degree is pretty much invalid. I have been out of it for so long and the field has changed dramatically.
My husband is of the mindset that you do not co-sign loans for college or go in debt of any kind. We are able to help them but not to the extent that they need. I feel a tremendous weight and burden to go back to work because I want to help them financially. I feel like it is my duty. But to get right to the heart of the matter I simply don’t want to. I would rather be in ministry of some kind. And the last thing is fear due to being out of work for so long. I think my husband is fine either way but I feel guilty because my children are probably going to suffer or at least take them much longer to accomplish their goals. I’ve even gone to the extent of wondering if we should use a partial amount of our tithe money to give to our children.What do you think?
Thank you so much. My baby bonding is about to end and I had to make a decision. My husband is okay with me staying home to care and guide our beautiful daughter but my mother is the one giving me greif. She is only concerned about our well being but it gives me so much stress when she says I should go back to work because she feels like our financial stability depends on me (I was the main breadwinner at home as well). It made me doubt a lot but when I read this I realized that my calling is to serve God like this. To teach our daughter to follow God as well by example.
As we were growing up she was a stay at home mom and that was a huge blessing to us. I cant imagine where we would be if God had not placed a Godfearing woman in our lives.
Thank you so very much!
God bless you and your family greately.
Reblogged this on Tranquility and commented:
I am thankful to come across ur article out of random Google search. I am a working professional in an expensive city and I struggle to decide if I should turn part time after my contract ends in Summer (Unfortunately our faith is not strong enough for being a full time mom) so I can be there for my beloved daughter before she receives formal schooling.
The only reason for me to continue working 10 hours a day is finance and experience…. But so true that God would provide, esp if we r the purpose He assigned for us.
Thank you ur article is one good assurance for me who has little faith!
Oh nelly , My good man…… I don’t know about some of your collective points. They seem to be a hit or miss and not making any relative sense. First off let’s talk about the “The Decision “that was made that your wife stay home: 1. Truthfully speaking did she decide or (2) Did you both decide or (3) Did you decide for her and she succumbed to your persuasion?
I’m quite suspicious of this set up because I do know from experience that many Christian men tend to not marry women who have implemented an progressive and aggressive multi-faceted career plan. However at the same time these women want to have large families and an outstanding career and accomplish simultaneous goals at the same time. Yep you got it that’s me. Life is too short to linger on one singular position or goal for far too long. Because guess what at the end of the chess piece game we call life, there are regrets. A great big bucket list of aspirations goals and dreams that many moms never accomplished because they felt that if they did that they would be a selfish careless mom, which is a horrific condemned way of thinking.
Thank God for my husband that he believes in my dreams and aspirations to be a Wife, Mother, artist, Opera singer, Filmmaker, Writer, etc.. Most of all I thank and praise my lord for giving me the grace to accomplish it all with great joy and pleasure.
There is a time and place for everything. For the maternity nest, raising kids, and working jobs that I find great pleasure in. However I feel sometimes there are some to many Christian women out there that has adopted a Jane Austen cardboard fantasy that serves as a non-functional fantastical ideal, which leaves them in a very interesting conundrum. Some of these women are living in this ideal: ” oh Mr. Darcy will take care of me, or Mr. Bingly will provide financial sustenance for me and I need not worry about, bills, finances, even buying my own underwear or makeup for myself!
This becomes a debasing issue because some of these women don’t know when to grow up be full adult women and leave the The Pride And Prejudice playhouse behind after their children have left the house and gone to college. What I mean by “playhouse” is that some of these women are to selfish to help their husbands pay off debts and or to take the initiative to set up a home business to be innovative and creative for their family and for their own benefit.
I don’t think some of these stay at moms want to be responsible adults. It becomes far much more a dilemma when they imply to their husbands that they are unable to be operable functional academic intelligentsia individuals outside the four walls of their home.
Maybe, just maybe, there are some women who like to stay at home and raise their children by spending quality time with them and maybe they don’t think that it is a horrific, condemned way of thinking. Also, maybe we use our fully operational academic intelligentsia to educate our children from day one instead of having other people do it for us. I, personally think that it is the way to go. Believe me, I never sat around watching my kids play video games and eat cardboard pizza. I made it my life’s decision and pursuit to feed them well, train them well, educate them well, and relate to them well. I made the choice to do it because I didn’t want someone else making the decisions for my family. They are mine and God given and I did what I felt compelled was right for us. Please, don’t ever make the assumption that because you choose to do much outside the home, that someone that chooses to do much inside the home is wrong. It was certainly the right decision for me and I have no regrets. My children have grown into the young adults that I dreamed they would be, but not only dreamed, worked hard to achieve. I hope you can say the same. If I choose to do something different with my life now that my kids are grown, it is not because I am allowed to now, it is because it is the time frame to do so now. To every time there is a season and it is wise of us to know those time frames and not fight them.
You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation but
I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I think I would never understand.
It sort of feels too complicated and very
wide for me. I am having a look ahead for your next submit,
I will attempt to get the hang of it!
It’s going to be finish of mine day, but before ending I am reading this impressive post to increase my experience.
I needed to read this post and all of the comments today!! Thanks everyone for your insight! I have been praying for God to realign my plan with His plan for my life. I felt I was starting to wonder from my purpose. I had worked on an off for the past few years. At first it was by choice because I was frustrated and bored with staying home then it became necessity because I was a single parent. In January 2009, my oldest son was diagnosed with cancer. I was a single parent and was left with no choice but to stay home. The only way we survived was by the support of my parents and other family members. When my son was able to come out of isolation in October of 2009, I returned to work only to get fired because he became ill and was hospitalized. In November of 2009, I was remarried and returned to work in January of 2010. Again, my son was hospitalized and I was fired. Finally, in July of 2011 I returned to work making only 100% commission. I did this for two reasons, one, my husband thought he didn’t make enough money for me not to work. And two, I felt guilty for not working when we had a pile of medical debt. I felt that I had a better chance of keeping my job if it didn’t cost my employer a salary. Cancer is expensive and the bills were mountains by this point. With the expense of daycare and the costs of getting to and from work I made negative money! I left that job and went to another 100% commission job….same results. It was now Christmas time so I took on a part-time job as well so I could actually earn money to buy my children presents. The part-time job took the form of a full time job because I was in such need of money. So I was almost working two full time jobs. I was exhausted and missed my family! I began praying like I had never prayed before begging God to please take over. I just couldn’t take it any more. I had always been in sales and was on top but for some reason I was failing miserably. Surely, this was not how my life was suppose to be. I felt like God was trying to get my attention. After months of prayer He clearly said to me one night, “Get back to the basics and we will go from there.” So I asked, what are the basics? He told me that I was to stay home with my children, get my home organized and in order. Our home needed to be a placed of peace and joy for my family. My husband was to be the sole provider for our family. In order for him to work hard and maximize his earning potential, he needed me to maintain a peaceful, clean, organized home. I knew that my husband would resist this because it made no sense for an able bodied person not to work when there was no possible way for his salary to pay our bills…I’m not just talking medical bills….I mean the basics of living. We had no cable, Netflix or the such. At this point we were living in survival mode and had been for a couple of years. Strictly cash and no credit cards either. We would not have enough money for rent, food, utilities, vehicle, gas, etc. I had no expense to cut back on!! I was at a let go, let God moment. It made no logical sense to me but I begged for help and I wasn’t going to deny it. I had to step out on faith like I never had before. I put my hands on my husband and prayed for several nights, as he was sleeping, that he would be receptive to what God had told me when the time came for me to tell him. A few days later I told my husband and the only thing out of his mouth was “OK, if you know that is what God is leading you to do then I’m behind you 100%”. I think my mouth fell to the floor!! A week later, my husband got a raise, then he got a promotion with another raise! We had to move from the house we were living in and found another one for $200 less/month. A few months later, we received some very unexpected money and were able to pay off all of our debt minus vehicle and student loans. We stepped out on faith, leaving logic by the wayside, and God blessed us beyond belief…and it continues! I learned that WE can not fix things ourselves…God is the sole provider for ALL of our NEEDS. NO matter what the situation is, He is just waiting for us to ask Him to take over so He can provide for us. And sometimes, what he can provide is far more and much quicker than what we can do ourselves. I have a peace in my life like nothing I have ever had…and it was there even before the debt was gone. I am human and I do struggle from time to time. I got a phone call from a friend about a great business opportunity. My first response was YES, I’ll take it! The reasons why, my daughter wants to take voice lessons, she needs braces, we would love to buy our own house SOON, we’ve never been able to take a family vacation, and the list goes on. But once my excited, opportunistic emotions calmed down I realized that I never asked God if this was in His plan for my life. Your child really needing braces is something your should provide them with right? It’s your parental responsibility! Well, God also can provide those braces. It’s just a matter of how big my faith in Him is. So, will I depend on Him or will I justify working outside of the home? Big picture thinking…how important are those braces in the grand scheme of things. So it is a daily struggle and I think the answer is not always what we want to hear. To make ourselves feel better about choosing what WE ultimately want to do, we justify working outside of the home in all kinds of ways. We’ve let society dictate our roles and what we as parents are obligated to provide for our children. Anything less than the acceptable norm makes us bad parents. And we refer to “back in the day that’s the way it was” as if it’s a bad thing. I’m 38 and I think that around my generation is when things began to spiral out of control and the kids are getting worse by the day. As Christians, when we choose to become parents, it’s no longer about what we want. God will hold us responsible for how we raise our children. Mentally it is a struggle for me to stay home and yes, it is much easier for me to get a job outside of the home. But God didn’t bless me with children for someone else to raise and me to babysit on nights and weekends. It’s a HARD, HARD job with SO MANY sacrifices. God never promised us heaven on earth, life is suppose to be hard but God can bring us comfort and the strength we need if we take it one day at a time and lean on Him alone. For some of us, like me, it’s a daily renewing of our faith and our commitment to our family. We’ve got to stop letting our emotions and what “feels” good lead us!
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This comment is amazing. Everything I needed to be reminded of as I am home with my babies and struggling financially. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony and helping me realize what is most important and that is God and how our family portrays His image and should be treated as such. We have to nourish our relationship with God in order to provide our family with everything they need. Again, thank you and God bless you and your family.
I love your story. I am also at that place where I know God has spoken to me about being home but my husband is thinking about the expenses I cover and he doesn’t want the responsibility of that. He actually earns enough to cover everything we need financially but he believes we both need to be working so we have more than enough. There are issues at home and with the kids and there are a lot of character building that needs to happen which I am not as chanced to do whilst working long hours. I am usually tired on getting home and it’s just evening and weekends left. However I have been instructed by God to be build up the children’s character and build our home but I am struggling with focusing on that whilst working on my job. Please pray for us.
As a stay at home mom, the more I see how crucially important it is to be at home, the more thankful I am. There are moments throughout my day that I see would have been impossible to recover, if I had been at work. My own mother worked all our lives growing up, and I must say that there is something destroyed there. Being away from my children all day, while I am at a job and they are at daycare/school kills the bond and the “natural affection” that the Bible plainly says we are to have! Ever since The Lord led me to come home from a job, and led me to pull my children out of public school, we are so much closer!! I actually have my children’s hearts! When did Mother leave the home? Oh, yeah, it was around the time women invented feminism, burning bras, wearing pants, smoking and cursing like men, and birth control was invented. Think about it, seriously!! Did Grandma work outside the home? No!! And she stayed home even during The Great Depression! Oh, Mother, please come home to your children.
I am a single, young woman, who does not have a family and is still living at home with her parents. I realize that I have not yet been put in the situation where I, myself have to choose what the Lord ultimately would have for me to do. But I will tell you what I have personally experienced and seen in my own life, and those lives around me.
My Mom has stayed home since the day she married my Dad, 27 years ago. I’m the second of three girls. I have been blessed to have my Mother always available to me, whenever I have needed her. She took the opportunity of being home to teach and nurture us constantly. If she had been gone at all there would have been SO much that I would not have learned both from her words and by her example. She had the opportunity to not only teach us, but to truly know us better than anyone else on this earth. No one knows me like my Mother, she can look at me and know what I am thinking, if I am struggling, or if I need to be alone. She has shared with me what she has learned about me, my personality, strengths, and weaknesses to help me to better know myself. All this would not have been accomplished if she had not been there.
My parents taught their three daughters the biblical principle of Priority. What are the priorities of a woman in the different stages of life that God has placed her in? When a woman is a wife and mother I believe that her priorities are this: 1) her relationship with God, 2) her relationship with her husband, 3) her relationship and training of her children, 4) her home, and 5) the body of Christ. There are other things that through life may come into play, aging parents, financial difficulties, to name just a few, but the priorities must stay the same. Each thing has to be put in its proper place. If a woman can truly keep those priorities where they ought to be while working, than so be it. For myself, I don’t see that I could ever give the time and place to those things first with the addition of a job. If the Lord has in His plans for me to be a wife and mother, then that is what I intend to be with every fiber of my being. I like the quote from Jim Elliot ” Wherever you are, be all there, live to the hilt, every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
I have shared with you my experience of having my Mom home and still having her home, even now that I am older. I have, unfortunately seen situations in christian homes where the mother has not been there, or was there for just those first years that have not been good. The outcomes have been discouraging at best. I don’t know if I have ever seen a positive situation when the Mother has been absent some or part of the time. One or more of what ought to be her priorities are not, and chaos and regret have been the fruit of these homes. Another fruit of these homes have been rebellious children who have forsaken the Lord and His ways. I don’t mean to be totally pragmatic in my approach to this subject, I do have a biblical basis for my opinion, but my purpose was to share my experiences on the subject from the perspective of one who has had the privilege to have a mother who stayed at home. I hope that this is an encouragement to those of you who are at home with your children. Another thing that my Mom has always said was to have a long-run outlook and see what will be, not what is. Proverbs 31:28 says of the excellent wife (and mother) that her children rise and call her blessed; This is the long-run outlook that must be looked at. As a child of a mother who stayed home, I do rise and bless her for her faithfulness to us girls, in raising us, training us, teaching and admonishing us, and being patient with our childishness.
Thank you for listening to me, and taking the time to read an opinion from a slightly different perspective.
It is interesting that you point to Proverbs 31 to support your argument that wives should stay home. The woman of Proverbs 31 actually works as well as caring for her family – she trades property & makes things to sell to merchants.
I’ve been a working mom much of my mothering career. I remember less-than-fondly the “Mommy Wars” from the late 80’s early 90’s that seemed to pit mothers against each other as if there can be only one right answer.
I appreciate the article here and the comments for the most part but there seems to be one overlooked little problem: the “chose to” issue.
There are probably quite a few moms who chose to work because they want to have a career. Or maybe they have talents they want to use or they want a bigger home or money for fancy vacations. Whatever it might be, a want is at the root of it. Dad makes enough money to support them. Maybe they would have to eat out less or drive older cars or go on less-fancy vacations, but they could live.
There seems to be this collective glossing-over of the “have to’s.” The families where, for whatever reason, dad does not make enough money to support them. Maybe it’s a disability. Maybe it’s a bad economy. It could be any number of things. But in those families, keeping a room over their heads and food on the table and gas in the very old unreliable car makes mom working a necessity.
As one of those moms, a mom who never got to choose, I feel that articles and arguments like this serve only to drive the stake in my heart in deeper.
Oh my goodness, I agree! I have a degree and am working on my Master’s. I actually have two jobs right now. I am doing these things not because I want to, but because I have to financially.
Both of my parents died when I was young. I married way too early. I was 19. I was a good wife, always faithful. My husband was abusive…to the extent I have steel plates and pins holding my jaw together, and have had my thumbs broken. I never wanted divorce, but the abuse was extreme. He also would get very angry if I went to church and he would not let me baptize the kids.
I left him when my kids were in diapers, and on the ten years since I have not lived with a man or remarried. I haven’t found the right man yet. How can I stay home when I am the sole provider for my children? I even had a man tell me I could never have a real relationship, that I am not a “good Christian woman” because of this. I have no living family to help. I would have loved to stay home.
How unusual to hear such sense on this topic. I was a little suprised to that you didnt mention my own primary reason for guilt. I’m a full time Mom who loves her two pre-schoolers and believes she has been called to be at home with them. Regrettably i’m often feeling guilty for finding life at home so lonely and (cant believe i’m admitting this) boring. Perhaps if some of us who ever feel this way were a bit more honest about the realities of being at home with the kids, then fewer women would be dashing off into full time employment feeling they arent cut out for full time Motherhood.
Excellent post. And as a stay-at-home mom of two daughters, I agree! I never went back to work after having my oldest, and while it was a very difficult step of faith to pull myself off the career-track, God has blessed that decision over and over again in the past eight years as we have trusted in Him.
I appreciate your thoughts on what you share with your girls. I would add that when choosing a degree or special training, young ladies should consider the potential of working from home and of serving their local church. I’ve been able to use my degree in journalism extensively in serving my home church. I’ve also used that training to bring in some extra dollars through freelance writing done at home.
Thanks for addressing this topic. You are brave!
While it is true that being able to work from home could be one aspect of finding a calling and both women and men must always be searching for ways to use their gifting from God to serve the local church, all aspects of choosing a calling should be emphasized for both women and men. Is this an area where a woman is gifted by God? Can she serve God? Will she be using all of her talents to the fullest for God’s glory? Certainly hoped-for future prospects should come into play to some extent, but as Noel Piper once told a group of college women I was part of, God never lets any training we have go to waste. Even if a woman majors in theoretical math and ends up staying home later in life with children, just imagine the ways she can be integral to their education!
Thank you for this article. I have two children under three years old, and stay home with them all day. About three nights a week, my husband comes home at 4 pm and I go to work until midnight. (I am a RN.) It makes for a long day for me, and him too, but it works for us and keeps our children in the home. I am constantly guarding myself against guilt from both sides and seeking to abide. Thank you, again.
As a working Christian mother myself, it is encouraging to see dialogue exploring both ends of the spectrum as it is often the case that Christian women are expected to work inside the home. Yet, as Pastor Haynes stated, the decision is often “not so cut and dry.” In my own experience, I sat with the Lord prior to and during my maternity leave and prayed for Him to reveal His plan for me, aside from my selfish desires. In ways I would have never expected, God began to reveal that part of his plan for me was to return to work. I feel now that I am in God’s grace as He has helped me combat guilt and allowed me to minister to other working mothers. And I do believe that comes from obedience and trusting God’s plan for us.
As a community of believers, we must support & encourage other mothers (both working and stay at home) and avoid personal convictions to turn to judgement. I find that obedience & trust in God’s plan will help us avoid guilt, but we must not be agents of guilt by projecting social pressures or judgements on others based on our personal journey with God.
It seems clear that God calls different individuals to different paths in this regard, as He does in other regards, which is why we find healthy Christian women working outside the home, and healthy Christian women as stay-at-home moms. I don’t, however, agree that feelings of guilt necessarily indicate being out of step with God’s plan. Guilt is often the product of our human conventions. As Pastor Haynes notes, some women receive external social pressure, which can create feelings of guilt, even when they’re living God’s will for their lives. So while guilt can be a powerful indication of right or wrong, it’s always important to pray for wisdom to uncover the guilt’s source.
Though most of the comments above appear to acknowledge that there’s more than one right way for women to live when it comes to working outside the home or staying at home, some comments reflect, whether intentionally or not, judgmental conventions that suggest there are only certain particular circumstances in which it’s right for a woman to work outside the home.
The question should never be whether a woman “has to work” (suggesting that if she doesn’t “have to” she should not) the question should only be what life (or in this case, vocation) she’s been called to live.
Pastor Haynes speaks to abiding in Christ, and abiding in love. In considering how best to abide, it’s important to realize that we don’t just have an obligation to our own offspring, but to the world around us. Loving your neighbor as yourself involves using your God given gifts not just to the betterment of your family, but to the betterment of everyone God’s placed in your life. If God gave me the gifts to pursue a legal education, isn’t it important for me to consider how that law degree might best be used? Of course I’ll think about the good of my family, but shouldn’t I also think about the good of underserved clients? Families in my neighborhood in need of resources, justice for the community? My love should pour over my children, but shouldn’t it also pour over my neighbors?
My next thought is, why are we so worried about absentee mothering when it’s absentee fathering that seems to have hurt us so much thus far. Is the question of whether to work outside the home or stay at home really just a question for women? We seem to have no difficulty grappling with the question of how men can love and nurture their children, while also using their God given gifts outside the home. We’ve, in large part, made this a women’s issue when, in reality, it’s a parents’ issue. Men and women are different, but we’ve assumed they’re different in this particular regard, and that’s not necessarily the case. A father who works outside the home will need to place special attention on meeting his children’s needs within that context, just as a mother would need to do the same. We also appear to have assumed that, if a family is called to have a parent at home, it must be a mother who is best situated to fill that role. It seems arbitrary to assume this is so. If a mother is the primary earner in her home, surely there should be consideration given to whether her mate should stay home. Further, many women who aren’t called to stay-at-home parenting are married to men who are. Shouldn’t a man blessed with the skills for stay-at-home fatherhood earnestly consider this option?
I appreciate Pastor Haynes intent to begin a dialogue that might pull us out of our conventional thinking, but fear that, even if the article wasn’t skewed in favor of stay-at-home momming, some of our conventions might be. We sometimes get nostalgic for the seemingly simpler days of traditional family roles, glossing over their downsides, and forget that just because something is conventional, doesn’t mean it’s right. Conventional medicine, after all, used to include blood letting 😉
As a final thought, I would just like to throw out there that a woman’s contributions shouldn’t be addressed in such stark terms, in the home vs. out of the home. Just as God gave men tools to contribute to the world in micro and macro ways, He gave women tools to contribute to the world (not their families alone) in micro and macro ways. We each need to earnestly seek God’s purpose for our lives, woman or man, parent or not, single or coupled.
Daughters of Christ, God will tell you what is right. Not people, however well-meaning they may be. Pray and listen.
I really think very few women who choose to have a family “HAVE” to work while their children are very young. Typically they work to either have “extras” (ie: house, nicer car, clothes, etc..) or because they are fearful to rely on God and their husband to provide. My personal belief is that if I am going to have children–I am called by God to raise them, not hand them to a daycare for 8-10 hours a day. Children do not ask to come into this world, so please never assume that your “wants” supercede their needs. 95% of women who are married can find a way to stay home and raise the children they brought into this world–not just when they are exhausted in the evenings and weekends. This will require difficult choices like living in a smaller home, driving older vehicles, and cooking instead of eating out all the time. All decisions my wife and I made together and have stayed with to raise our boys. It’s not easy, but Titus 2:3-4 and 1 Timothy 5:14 make it clear that mothering comes before financial pursuits. They grow up so quickly, we really should “seize the day” with our kids…and then fulfill your own pursuits when they leave for college.
I agree with Michael, well said.
To make it all about starving versus not starving seems to leave out a myriad of issues that may be there (and to make it all about what worked for one or even the majority of families, too). Is it valuable that I stay home with my children while my husband has to commute 2 hours each way to work because living any closer to his job would put the price of a potential home well above half a million dollars for the smallest house in those areas? Or could I perhaps spend some time working part time or from home and the kids get to see Dad and not just Mom? When you are already cooking all your meals at home and driving cars that are legally considered antiques and the decisions aren’t between starving and not starving but are about what’s good for the family, I can’t believe that it’s required to be so black and white. Titus and I Timothy say “working at home,” emphasizing a priority on the family. They don’t spell out that a priority on the family must be about domesticity exclusively. Proverbs 31 certainly doesn’t indicate that.
We do not eat out, we buy clothes from thrift stores, and have not taken a vacation since our first child was born, I coupon, drive an old vehicle and do not have “extra” but still have to work to get by. It is not an option for everyone unless we would choose to live on welfare. -A Mother Who Wants To Stay Home But Can’t
Great job ! I liked the blog. I always enjoy seeing a young man in love with his children and his family and teaching other men that it is ok to love your family. Something society forgets to promote is Dad’s showing their feelings and love for their children. Christain men are really awesome.
I agree, well said. I have had the ability to be on both sides and firmly agree both are difficult! There were days at the office when I longed to be home and there were days at home I longed to have the “peace” of the office. One thing that I’ve been shown is that there is not one right answer collectively, rather individually if we’re living out God’s purpose for our lives He will give us a peace. That is not to say we won’t struggle along the way, but it’s reassuring to know He listens and cares!
Well written. Good comments. As I tell my children, ultimately, I am only responsible to God. If I’m doing what He wants, when He wants, I hope to hear, “well done, good and faithful daughter.” If not, I won’t be happy in this life and we all know, “when Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!” Again, well written.
Spot on as usual Dr. Haynes.
As we abide in Christ, we are filled with the Spirit. (not just indwelled) Since the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control, we cannot be both filled with the Spirit and feel guilty… stay home parent , or career professional parent.
“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Why does it have to be a question of staying at home OR working outside the home that defines the role of a woman? Could a woman not abide in Christ, love others and fulfill her calling doing both? Obviously a woman with a career cannot be at home to “walk along the road” when she is at the office (or the kids are at school), but she can still invest time with her children in the evening and on weekends. (Please, I am not talking quality vs. quantity; quantity always wins.) Yet, as a pastor whose wife works full-time outside our home, and for whom most of the women in our church work outside the home, I feel like God can honor either decision. Its people that have a more difficult time restraining judgment.
I appreciate you taking this on, Brian. A college degree and skill training are essential, not only while women are single but because divorce/death/disability happens. A woman needs to be prepared to support her family if necessary. I chose to stay home because I believe it’s my responsibility to raise my children, with all that requires. Thankfully, finances were never an issue. I think my husband would agree with you that the peace and calm we bring to the home is worth the extra paycheck. But I have the utmost respect for moms who hold down full-time jobs, whether because they’re forced to or because they choose to. I honestly don’t know how they do it! Whether we’re at home or in the workplace, we still need support and encouragement. As Christian moms, we need to offer that to each other sincerely and without judgment.
Great job Brian! I am impressed you had the guts to take on this topic, and you did it with great grace and love. Raising two daughters myself, I have had to wrestle with the issue of how to answer the question of what should I be when I grow up. Like you, I try to encourage them to pursue their God given talents and make sure that wherever they are guided, they always put their families first.
Thanks for this post…I’m going to pass this link along