Women in Ministry Outside the Home

I’m about to step into some hot water here.

I heard someone say something along the lines that a woman’s ministry is to be a housewife caring for her husband and children, and that any ministry outside the home is wrong. Not just wrong, but selfish.

She then cited Billy Sunday- a great evangelist of the 20th century. Many great things can be said about the man as he led others to Christ in his years. However, she pointed out that three of his four adult children lived wayward lives, and two died as a result of alcohol-related incidents. While he and his wife were out ministering to the world they neglected their own children’s walk with the Lord.

I’ll admit- I don’t know much about Billy Sunday. I don’t know what kind of father he was or how much time he actually spent bringing his children up in the Lord. But this got me thinking.

In 1 Timothy the qualities of a deacon of a church are outlined. Among other things, to have a good relationship with his family is a prime indicator. If there is trouble at home, he shouldn’t be leading in the church. And I believe that wholeheartedly.

But, at the end of the day we are all left with a choice. We can raise our children to be followers of Jesus, to pursue biblical truth, and to live out theological doctrine. But, at the end of the day they are left with a choice. When they become adults they choose. And, yes, some choose to walk away. Some choose to walk away because they have felt suffocated and want to encounter something real. Others walk away because the ways of the world seem more enticing and something with which they want to experiment for a little while. Some walk away hoping to find this faith so that he can claim it for his own. The road is narrow. And some grow up to be great Christian leaders of the church and in their own homes and families. Whatever the reason, they are left with a choice.

We hope and we pray that our children will make the right choices. But, when they make wrong choices does that make these parents any less? We can say, “oh, that guy is on a wayward path- his parents obviously didn’t ground enough biblical truth in him.” Yeah, that’s effective.

And ministry outside the home (unless it is right there alongside with your children) is wrong? Seriously? I’m sorry, that seems a tad ridiculous to me. Are we leaving the ministry of a broken world in the hands of men and singles?? And, if a woman’s worthiness is really in caring for husband and children what does that say about all the single women out there?

The world is broken. I say that over and over again. But we live as people with hope. It’s not a cheap hope or one filled with sentiments, but a real hope grounded in truth. And that hope needs to be shared. We raise our families well, but we don’t worship our families. We want our children to do well in school, but they don’t have to become miniature Harvard graduates.

One conservative Christian housewife said that ministry outside the home is selfish. Say, what?!? Yeah, some people serve with the wrong motives, but to make a blanket statement like that is a bit misconstrued. I believe, rather, that it IS important to maintain a balance. Some sacrifices are good things to sacrifice, but some “sacrifices” are ones where you can make no compromise (such as the complete neglect of your not-so-perfect family in the name of “doing ministry”).

I don’t know what it is like to be a mom, but I know what is it to be raised by one. I was raised by parents who were very involved in ministry outside the home during my growing up years. In high school we were all doing our own thing- still a family, but serving in different ways and being with different groups of people. We even went to some of the most liberal public schools once upon a time. And my brother and I turned out okay. More than okay. I know that my mom, for example, tried to instill good values in me and my brother. To this day she still makes us write thank you notes to those who gives us gifts and will stand over us until we do. But, she also helped us navigate the tough things of the world. We made choices. Our parents allowed us to make choices. Sometimes we experienced the consequences of those choices- big ones! At several points one or both of us wanted to walk away from the faith, however long or short of it, but my parents trusted God enough to say that we were His. My mom’s prayer life soared during that time. They trusted that He would allow for a way to bring us home again. And He did. A faith that is stronger than we had ever known.

I deeply truly respect those that choose to homeschool their kids and try to bring them up in a very intentional biblical environment. I think that is commendable, honestly. I live in complete awe of women who can bake and clean and mend and teach and scrapbook, all while making it look all so easy. I am amazed by women who have that much devotion to their children and husbands. However, what I am not okay with is people crusading around with this air of superiority (in the name of “service” and “selfless love for my children”) trying to convince everybody else that they are doing it wrong. They cross that fine line between raising their children well and worshipping their children. They become this isolated group of people that only chooses to actively engage with other isolated groups of people with the exact same worldview. They are so busy not being OF the world that they don’t share love WITH the world. And that’s just sad.

We are set apart. We need to actively share love with a broken world, not just with our families.


One thought on “Women in Ministry Outside the Home”

  1. Well said Michelle.
    We humans are really messed up when it comes to how important we think we are. A great parent (whatever that is) doesn’t necessarily make a great child (whatever that is). And some amazing kids come from some not so great parents. This doesn’t mean we don’t have to try to do the best parenting we can….and each of us do that in a different way.

    God can use any of us who allow Him to use us (and actually He uses the Pharaohs of this world when He so desires to). It doesn’t matter who our parents are or if they were godly or ungodly, weak or strong, atheist or following some other religion. It’s not because of something wonderful we as humans do that determines if God is going to use us or not.

    God chooses to use us according to His plan. Just because we are the “leader” of an organization, doesn’t mean God thinks we are more wonderful than the person who is the pastor of a small church.

    God’s ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts. He sees things very differently than we do. It just amazes me that He chooses to use us and love us in spite of how messed us we are.

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