This past week, I had the great privilege of giving a presentation to a wonderful group of mothers who are serious about their calling, and deeply committed to raising their families to the glory of God. Their enthusiasm was refreshing, and their eagerness to hone their skill was incredibly encouraging.
It was obvious that these women understand, to a great degree, the purpose of their work. They are clearly women of “vision” in the midst of a multitude of mothers in America today fighting to escape the drudgery and frustration of their perpetual, meaningless routines. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are discouraged.”
Sadly, in America today there is a very strong tide of discouragement in motherhood, with women seeking to find fulfillment and satisfaction outside the home in careers, relationships, or social venues. They love their children, yet they have no real vision for the home, and therefore they are drifting, not understanding the amazing high call of God that defines motherhood.
The truth is, for those of us who’ve been blessed with children, motherhood is the most amazing call of God that we will ever know! It’s also the most challenging. If we really understood what this is all about, we would immediately stop seeing ourselves as overworked, unappreciated laborers, and start skillfully and joyfully fulfilling our roles as active participants in one of three equally important covenant institutions where the government of God is expressed: the home, the church, and the state.
The home is the first established institution that God set in place in order that His government and peace would be expressed. Its primary purpose is to be the training center where faith in God is practiced as it is applied to every area of life.
It’s in the home that Christian self-government– the essential basis of all good government– is taught and practiced. In 1859 a pastor named Rev. S. Phillips described the essential elements of the Christian home in a sermon. He said, “The Christian home… forms the citizen, lays the foundation for civil and political character, prepares the social element and taste, and determines our national prosperity or adversity. We owe to the family, therefore, what we are as a nation as well as individuals… What a fearful responsibility must rest, therefore, upon the Christian home!”
Teaching your children the art of self-government is the most intense, yet the most rewarding aspect of your role as a mother. There is not one child in the whole world who was born already well-behaved. Every single child, left uncorrected, will always behave selfishly, and make decisions that revolve around his own comfort and satisfaction. Children are not blank slates to be written upon. They are born with a nature of sin that must be corrected, disciplined, and re-formed. You’ve probably noticed that every single child has a temper tantrum at some point– some more than others. A child having a temper tantrum is not a surprise. The real tragedy is a parent who leaves it uncorrected.
There have been days when my daughter has called me on the verge of tears, in frustration that, “It feels like the only thing I did all day was discipline! What am I doing wrong!?”
She felt inadequate at that moment, yet I affirmed the success of her consistency in not giving up on those really tough days when her child’s “natural bent” dominates. The tough and demanding job of training children to be self-governed, productive, God-glorifying individuals is tedious, but no more tedious than every other job in the professional world. Yet it reaps the greatest results by far!
Sadly, in our current generation, we seem to have forgotten what this vision and purpose of the Christian home is! Just as all other God-ordained institutions express His government, the home requires parents to be the “governors” who carry out their God-given responsibility of teaching and training their children in order that they would become the productive, God-glorifying, self-governed individuals and leaders of the next generation.
The father’s role as head in the home is to set the coarse and direction that the family will take, and the mother, working with him, helps to bring this goal into reality. It’s a huge job, and a very serious one. Why on earth would a mother feel unfulfilled, and seek to find her satisfaction anywhere else?
The purpose of the church, the second God-ordained institution that reflects His government and peace, is to train the conscience of the individual to obedience to God through the teaching and instruction of His Word.
Yet even still, it’s in the home that these ideas are applied to the reality of life, and where the character to sustain the church is developed. We’re called to evangelize, and provide the essential support and help that’s needed in order to become men and women who are “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17.)
Finally, the third institution that God ordained to reflect His government and peace is the state, or civil government. The function of civil government, as laid out in Romans 13 is to punish the evil-doer, and to reward those who do good.
The job of the home, then, is to form the character of the individual, and to teach individual self-government, in order to keep the civil government as non-intrusive as possible. It’s in the home where leaders are trained to properly govern in the civil institutions with the character and proper knowledge of their responsibility.
What a terrible thing to be the mother of a president who will forever be remembered first for his having had an affair with an intern and lying in court about it. Or to be the mother of a senator found out for having used taxpayers’ money to fund a rendezvous with his mistress. Yet these are the government leaders of our nation today!
The reason we are witnessing such chaos in our nation today is that the functions of these three godly institutions have been turned totally backwards!
In America today, civil government, the biggest, most intrusive and controlling of these governing institutions, constantly seeks to exert itself into responsibilities that were never intended for it to take. And as that’s going on, the home has become anemic, weakly handing over its rights and responsibilities to the all powerful state in hopes that it will provide all of our needs and wants.
For a long time, I have pictured these three individual institutions properly working like the cross-section of an egg. The yoke represents the home, the very center of society, taking up a sizable area of responsibility. It probably should take up the greatest area of space because that’s where most of “government life” ought to be happening! If children are properly taught at home to govern (i.e. direct, control, regulate, restrain) themselves, then there will be little or no need to receive government control from the church or civil courts.
The white of the egg represents the function of the church, giving instruction as it trains the conscience in God’s Word , and giving help, as the Bible commands, to the widows and orphans (those without families.)
The shell of the egg represents the state, or civil government as it was intended to be. It ought to be the least intrusive–take up the least amount of space and have the smallest amount of responsibilities– of all spheres of government. Its major responsibility is to protect these other, internal spheres of the home and the church.
Today in America, the egg is totally scrambled! Yet there is a way to get these three back into the right order, and it begins largely with mothers! Like the group of mothers I spoke of earlier, we need to have the vision, the commitment, and the enthusiasm to take back the home as the first and greatest place of influence. This will have amazing affects!
The women I spoke to last week reminded me of the inscription at the base of the Pilgrim Mothers’ Monument in Plymouth, Massachusetts that says, “They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God, without which nations perish.”
These women were deeply motivated by that goal, and they knew it.
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