Every mom learns pretty quickly that if she wants her family to have a great home life, she has to juggle many things. She needs to not only care for her children's physical needs, but also spend time with them so their emotional and spiritual needs are met. She wants to keep a reasonably clean house and serve healthy meals. She needs to keep the laundry pile under control. To increase her family's health and self sufficiency, she might also want to do things like garden, preserve, and sew. She might also home school. And then there is her husband: She needs to maintain a good relationship with him, which also requires times and effort. That's a lot for one person to do! And then a Christian friend actually asks "What is your ministry?"
The Proverbs 31 Woman did many things, but she kept them in some semblance of balance. She didn't teach a women's Bible study but let her house turn into a scene from Hoarders. She didn't donate time to the local shelter but neglect to spend time with her husband. She didn't keep a blog to encourage other women but leave her children feeling like they never got much time from mom.
Balance is only possible if you have priorities. So, biblically speaking, what are the right priorities for a mother?
1. A relationship with God. Matthew 6:33 says "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." And in Mark 12:30, Jesus says the most important commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Remember, too, how Jesus told the ever-busy-housekeeping Martha that her sister Mary had "chosen what is better" by seeking God first. For the modern Proverbs 31 Woman, this means seeking God's will, and reading the Bible daily and praying continuously throughout the day.
3. Children. God tells us to create "godly offspring" (Mal. 2:15) and in Timothy, we learn that a woman's ministry is "bringing up children." In Deuteronomy, God says parents (not teachers) must teach children the ways of the Lord. God gave you children to to care for. They grow so quickly; don't busy yourself with other things and neglect the important ministry - your children - that God has put squarely before you. Remember, when they are older, you'll have more time for other ministries - but why would God entrust you with those if you neglect the ministry of your children?
4. Home. Like it or not, the Bible says one of the signs of a godly woman is that she cares for her home. This doesn't mean she should be Martha Stewart-esque or that she is a slave to housework. It's simply a recognition that if we live in sloth and ugliness, our attitudes and personalities will be affected negatively. If our homes are reasonably clean and comfortable, however, the entire family benefits. Husband, children, and wife can take refuge at home, feeling less stress and more peace. Proverbs 31:27 says a godly woman "watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." 1 Timothy 5:14 says young unmarried women do well to marry and "to manage their homes..." And in Titus, we are told it's good for women to "love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands..."
Those four priorities are huge. Honestly, it's the rare woman who can successfully add more and keep a decent balance in her life. In fact, it's interesting to note the Bible never mentions mothers with young children doing anything else - no other job, no other ministry. Nowhere does Jesus or anyone else in the early church ask moms, "What is your ministry?" Because their ministry is being a wife and mother. And that is a full time job.
This post originally appeared in 2012.