Article Aug 9, 2017

Two motivations for the mundane works of motherhood

Monday is likely the most dreaded day of the week. And we all know why. It’s the day that crushes the anticipation of Friday, the joy of Saturday, and the restfulness of Sunday. It’s when most of us return to work or, at the very least, return to the normal, regularly scheduled busyness.

Monday is dreaded by most because work is dreaded. But does it have to be that way? Is there a way, instead, to find true and lasting joy in our labors, particularly in vocations that often include mundane demands and repetitive labor? Motherhood certainly fits that description, and although motherhood is not a job as we’ve come to define jobs—namely, because it isn’t paid(!)—it is work.

During the stage of mothering that I’m currently in, each day looks quite different. But when my children were babies and infants, it was the same thing every single day. On top of that, the tasks of keeping the home don’t change. Laundry needs to be done, dishes need to be washed, food needs to be served—day after day after day.

If we aren’t watchful, it’s easy to begin longing for something different, and maybe new and exciting. Work, especially repetitive and mundane work, can be quite difficult. Those repetitive and mundane tasks can reinforce the feeling of dread that we so often have about work. The Bible has much to say about work, but I want to focus on two areas that can help motivate us, specifically in our everyday labors of love as a mother.

1. Work is for the Lord

One of the first ways to fight our temptation to dread our work is to remember that work is ultimately for and about our Creator God. We are told by the world that we must pursue work that is fulfilling and satisfying. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving your job or even pursuing something that you are passionate about, if that is all we are focused on, then we can easily become disillusioned—because work is difficult and affected by the fall. But, instead, if we know that every dish washed and every load of laundry and every diaper changed is for the Lord, our hearts are set on a much greater, more significant focus.

One of the first ways to fight our temptation to dread our work is to remember that work is ultimately for God.

If we have children and a home, God has called us to shepherd those kids and care for our home. When I’m focused on this work, it’s automatic to think that I’m mostly serving my children and my husband, but as Paul has reminded us in Colossians: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).

This work isn’t set apart from other work. Whatever we do, we are to do is heartily, not for our children, not for our spouse, but for the Lord. And God graciously rewards us for our labors. We may not get paid, but I imagine we won’t be concerned about that as we worship our Savior for eternity. What joy there will be on that day! Let this truth motivate you to find joy in your everyday, knowing that God sees it and is pleased as you work for his glory. It is not worthless—there is great value and enjoyment to be found in it!

2. Learning contentment

If we are struggling to find joy or if we are disillusioned in the work we are doing, it’s likely that discontentment is lurking right under the surface. Paul tell us in Philippians 4: 11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” I’m grateful for all of the verses surrounding this one because they show that Paul knew how to be brought low and he also knew abundance. In each circumstance, his comfort and strength came from the Lord (v. 14).

Paul never said that he was always naturally content as he went through various trials and temptations. No, Paul learned to be content. God gives us a glimpse of progressive sanctification in the life of Paul. If we struggle with discontentment in our mundane, then we can repent of this and begin to thank God for the work he has given to us. Contentment in what we do has to be learned; no one is naturally gifted in this area.

Work is hard. There is no doubt about it. So let us ask the Lord to give us eyes to see our work as being done unto him. As Christians, our lives are to be given away, following the example of Christ. Let us ask our Lord to help us serve, work, and labor knowing that Jesus, as our perfect model, came to serve and not to be served (Matt. 20:28). As we reflect on what Christ has done, we will find deep joy, purpose, and value in modeling our lives after his. Work, even the mundane work, has a purpose—to glorify God. That’s something worth the work.

A version of this article first appeared in Tabletalk Magazine.