I winced when I heard my mentor-from-afar say that motherhood was the highest calling.
Thirty years ago, hearing such sentiments encouraged me that my decision to stay home to raise my children was a valuable one, contrary to the feminist teaching that stay-at-home moms were somehow lesser beings than career women. And I am sure that’s how this writer and speaker meant her statement.
But where does that sentiment leave women to whom God has not given husbands or children? I know from this speaker’s other writings and speeches that she did not regard single or childless women as any less called by God to serve Him. Maybe in her desire to encourage mothers swimming against the tide of societal pressure, she just didn’t realize how her statement about calling sounded.
I’ve also heard preachers say that being a minister of the gospel is the highest calling. I don’t think they meant it arrogantly. It surely is a privilege to be able to study God’s Word and minister to people with the bulk of your time and life.
But I don’t think the Bible calls motherhood or professional ministry or anything else the highest call of God (unless I’ve missed it. Please feel free to let me know if I have).
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, a man gave three of his servants differing amounts of money and told them to invest it while he was away. When he came back, he called his servants to give an account of what they did with what he gave them. The person with five talents and the one with three each invested their talents and doubled their money. They were each told, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” The main focus on the passage was on the one servant who didn’t invest anything, but hid his talent away. The master was highly displeased and that servant was punished.
But even though the second servant isn’t the focus, I note that he didn’t grumble, “Well, I could have made ten talents if I had been given five like this other guy. But I was only given three, so this was the best I could do.” No, he was commended for doing what he could with what he had been given.
Paul tells us we’re not wise to compare ourselves with others (2 Corinthians 10:12), yet we all too easily fall into that trap.
What is God’s highest calling? No one profession or ministry. God’s highest calling for each person is to surrender themselves to Him for whatever He asks. He has a place and purpose for each of us.
When we cared for my husband’s mother in our home, hospice sent a bath aide out twice a week. I can’t think of anyone who grew up saying, “I want to give old people baths when I grow up.” But our primary bath aide treated her job as the most important thing she could be doing at the moment. She was efficient, she was on time unless something hindered, she was cheerful. She didn’t gripe about unpleasant aspects of the work. She treated my mother-in-law with dignity and respect. It was like she brought sunshine in with her. But her light came from the Son she loved.
Philippians 2:14-16a tells us we “shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”
We can shine His light and make a difference no matter where we are or what God has called us to. Secretaries, executives, doctors, nurses, firefighters, custodians, nursing home residents, all have unique spheres of influence.
In my husband’s first professional job, his supervisor was from a religion where he had been told not to read the Bible. His boss would never have entered a Baptist church, except maybe for a funeral or wedding. So my husband’s only means to share Christ with him were through conversations and working side by side over several years.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Those good works are not meant to count for salvation: the previous two verses tell us our salvation is a gift of God, not a result of our works. But from that salvation, from our love and thankfulness, we spend our lives to serve Him. There are things He created us to do, and our highest calling is to do whatever He has put before us with grace.
Does shining our light for the Lord mean nonstop witnessing? No. But when we “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), it shows in our lives.
We can shine for God whether we’re comforting a child with a skinned knee, drawing blood, answering a customer service call with a cheerful voice and efficient help, preaching a sermon, washing a patient’s hair, letting someone in our lane of traffic, or having the same conversation for the fifth time with an elderly loved one.
What matters is not the size of our service, but the One for Whom we do it and the love and grace He wants to show others through us.
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