“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis
One challenge of choosing stay-at-home parenthood is the dealing with perceptions. In my younger years, I was a girl of great ambitions. I graduated second in my high school class and graduated college with honors, even after switching my major and adding a minor. As I neared college graduation, one of my professors asked me what I planned to do with my life. Would I go to grad school? What company did I hope to work for? Would I seek to be a company VP? I answered, “I hope to be a graphic designer, but if I get married and have children, I would like to be a stay-at-home mom.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “It won’t happen—you’re far too ambitious for any of that. You’d be bored out of your mind.”
Boredom is hardly a problem when you have three kids, each of whom are twenty months apart. Throw homeschooling in the mix and all this mom wants is the freedom to be bored—alone—for at least an hour. Boredom is not my problem; I struggle with pride.
Like most adults, any introduction often involves the discussion of work or career. When I tell someone I am a stay-at-home mom (and homeschooler), subsequent questions and comments take on new shades of meaning:
“What do you do all day?”
“You’ll be lost when they leave home.”
“You’re at home so you must have time for _______.”
“Will you go back to work when they graduate?”
“Oh, I could never do that, I would be____________.”
Tell people you stay home with kids and there is often an automatic assumption that you are lazy, unambitious, or uneducated. I have felt the sting as people turn away, not wanting to hear about my “mundane” life. I recently had someone talk about me like I wasn’t even there, and I was sitting right next to them! I had an “aha” moment as I realized that my feelings were wounded because of my own selfish pride.
Even if you work full-time outside the home, you may have been made to feel as though your job was not glamorous enough to merit someone’s respect or attention. I could attempt to inspire you to “feel good about yourself,” but it is of greater value to take Christ’s approach. Our culture is all about self—self-improvement, self-help, selfies, and me-time. We wants likes, follows, shares. We want recognition.
As a child of God, we are called to counter this self-serving, self-glorifying culture:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2.3-8)
This text in Philippians calls us to have the mind of Christ. Even in human form, Jesus deserved all praise and honor, yet received little. He counted you and I of enough value to come to earth, live as a humble human, and die a violent death. He emptied Himself, showing us the way to live. If my Lord emptied Himself for me, I should do likewise for Him.
Regardless of “what you do for a living,” living for Jesus is of greater value. We can live for Jesus no matter how lowly or how lofty our position in life.
I long to be recognized, but the Lord calls me to serve without recognition.
I love to care for myself, but Jesus calls me to care for others first.
I want earthly affirmation, but Jesus asks me to seek God’s ultimate affirmation—“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
It does not matter what others think of my chosen career or of me. Even if my own children or husband fail to recognize my efforts on their behalf, it is of no consequence. I serve a God who sees every labor of love. This same God calls me to let go of my pride and serve with humility. I need to think of myself less and consider others more.
The next time someone slights you, do two things:
- Remember that our achievements and/or career are of little worth compared to the gift we have in Christ. We are God’s adopted children. We carry His name. We are fashioned in His image. It is God who gives us worth, not we ourselves.
- Take your pain to Him in prayer.Jesus knows what it is like to be humiliated, insulted, and slighted, and He cares. Lay the pain at His throne and ask Him to work through you, transforming the pain into compassionate service:
Lord, you see all my efforts and you recognize the pride in my heart. Teach me to empty myself and imitate Jesus’ example of humble service. Please fill my heart with your strength, your peace, and your love so I can pour it out to others. Remove the fog of selfishness from the lens of my heart so I can see clearly and serve effectively.
When I fail, Lord, forgive.
When I feel wounded, be the healer of my heart.
When I forget, point me back to the cross.
In all my efforts, Lord, may you be glorified. May my work show that Christ truly is living in me.
In His name, Amen.
Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com