I rolled down our van window as we pulled up to the stoplight. A homeless man made in the image of God stood beside our passenger-side window. “No one has ever told me they would pray for me,” he cried, as I asked for his name and told him we would pray for him. I handed him a bag, shared with him the good news about Jesus with no promise that his earthly life would get easier, and we said goodbye as cars honked to indicate the light had turned green.
This moment transpired with my three children beside me — with my “hands full,” as moms like me are often told when we are on the go with our children. They are right. Our hands are full — fuller than they can see.
God has made these days for holding little hands, and he has made us for these days (Psalm 118:24). Each new day brings significant God-prepared work for mothers (Ephesians 2:10). And as God has made me aware of the kingdom importance of my mothering, he has also opened my heart afresh to people, conversations, and experiences I had never anticipated. He is teaching me to be a MOM — a mother on mission.
Stay-at-home moms frequently find it challenging to do much more than care for their children and homes. It is a significant call to love people with the gospel, given that our children at least start out as unbelievers and form a weighty, continuous mission field. But God also graciously says to each of us, “I am sending you places. I am sending you to the grocery store. I am sending you to parks. I am sending you to your front yard.” We all have regular opportunities to say, “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Moms, are our hearts focused on the experience of mom-busyness, or on the joys of being beloved daughters of the King — women who have the privilege to raise sons and daughters into our joy, and to make disciples inside and outside of our home?
Our children are watching us. Do we merely talk about Jesus occasionally, or are we daily being disciples of Jesus? If children are “like arrows in the hand of a warrior” (Psalm 127:4), we need to be consistently mindful of the bullseye. These arrows will fly aimlessly if they are not aligned with the Great Commission. We have the privilege of cultivating disciple-makers by inviting our children into life on mission with us.
God has transformed my conversations with my children over the years. We have shifted from mainly discussions of kindness and sharing to spending more time praying and preparing our hearts — theirs and mine — to be used by Jesus to display the love and the joy that comes from knowing him. I spend time praying with them about the conversations and interactions we are having throughout the week. I invite them to join me so that together we can enter into the suffering happening around us and in the world.
But as moms, disciple-making does not stop with our children. As mothers on mission, God also calls us to make disciples of others while we make disciples of our children. What might this dual discipleship look like? Here are five scenarios in which we might bring Spirit-led intentionality into our days, especially as we move out of our homes.
1. Look for opportunities when you run errands.
Aim to go to the same stores, on the same days, at the same general times. That we frequent the same places, and see many of the same people, opens the door for patient, gospel intentionality. Employees at the stores you shop at may not remember your name, but they will remember you as the one who remembers them. Have conversations. Ask for prayer requests. Build relationships. Buy groceries and meals for others, and pray for creative and spontaneous Christ-exalting love.
Through this framework, God has enabled me to be part of the lives of the employees and customers at our local grocery store — happenings with their children, illnesses, surgeries, and beliefs. This simple, consistent labor “is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
2. Engage others during activities with your children.
“What does it mean to you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” The question unexpectedly came from a teenage girl we regularly saw at one of our local parks.
Be prepared to give an answer for the hope you have as you watch your children swim, slide, and swing (1 Peter 3:15). Be a presence in the neighborhood in which God has placed you. We may not know the stories behind the lives of the people we encounter, but God does, and he is calling us to enter into them. We will have opportunities to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) — and to be the aroma of Christ to them all (2 Corinthians 2:15).
3. Make yourself more available to your literal neighbors.
“Without you, my faith would not have been renewed.” This note was taped to our front door shortly after a seemingly fleeting conversation I had with our neighbor John, as I played with my daughter in our front yard.
I hardly understood him, and I was convinced he had not understood me. We can always be more intentional in our own yards, as neighbors walk by, hungry for truth often without knowing it. We can gladly give away toys and snacks for the joy of other children, to reveal to them and their families that our treasure is in heaven (Matthew 6:20). We can share the word of God, confident that it will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), even when we cannot see its actual impact on others.
4. Serve the homeless you encounter on the street.
“Mr. David” is one of many homeless men and women who have captured our hearts and have received bags with food, water, and our favorite gospel pamphlet. My 4-year-old resolved to write “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus Loves You” cards to be placed in care bags for the poor. She witnessed what God had done through these care bags during the previous year — with the news that Jesus is our hunger-satisfier and thirst-quencher (John 6:35). Organize a bag assembly with your family, small group, or missional community.
We can even be on mission during the hours we spend in the car each week.
5. Carry your hope to doctors’ offices and hospital rooms.
Labor and delivery, illnesses, injuries, and general checkups land us all in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Encourage your providers, and be intentional in expressing thankfulness for their care. Seek to live out your identity in Christ in the same ways you live it out at home. Sing truth while you’re in the hospital, especially when your children are scared. Pray with your children when they are sad or in pain.
As we invite our children into our hearts for the world, we also have the opportunity to invite the world into our gospel interactions with our children.
Mothers on Mission
I recently heard a powerful statement attributed to John Wesley, in which he encourages us all to “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”
As perfectly loved daughters of the King, we have the opportunity to disciple our children, and others God puts in our path, toward the joy we have in Jesus. We can let our lights shine beyond the hearts of our children to people who need to see and hear the good news (Matthew 5:16). Who knows which of the people we encounter today might enter the kingdom because we mothered our children on mission?