Happy Mother’s Day, But Please, Don’t Just Be a Mom

dontjustbeamomAs I write this, I’m on vacation. We got to our condo yesterday and everything looked great. Until I walked into the laundry room.

A scale.

What?! WHY would someone put a scale in a place where people are on vacation, eating with reckless abandon and enjoying every minute of it? It’s not that I’m unaware I’ve been eating so freely here. It’s just that I don’t want to take premature inventory of the results. That should happen when I get home.

Of course, whether I know about it or not doesn’t change the reality of any added vacation weight. I just want to ignore it because it makes me happier right now.

On Mother’s Day, most of us (myself included) just want to sit back and celebrate – not weigh how we’re doing. But I recently took note of a scale we moms really need to step on. Not the one in my condo’s laundry room (please not the one in the laundry room), but a measuring stick nonetheless:

A recent survey showed that only 16% of Christian women rate faith as their top priority in life, well below family at 53%. 

If you’re a Christian mom, there’s no time like today to weigh your priorities. Is your life measuring up to an identity based around family or an identity based around Christ?


The Christian Identity


In case there is any doubt, let’s clearly establish what the Bible says about the identity of a Christ-follower.

Galatians 3:26-27: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Colossians 3:3-4: For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

1 John 3:1: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 Corinthians 3:16: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

These verses – and at least 150 others – point to our identity being solely in Christ, as children of God.

That is who you are. A child of God, first and foremost.

None of these verses say anything remotely close to, “Oh, but if you have kids, then you are first and foremost a mom. Your family comes first.”

None. Not even close. God always comes first.

In fact, the Bible says relatively little about parenting. The writers were primarily concerned with their audience’s relationship with God, presumably because Godly parenting flows naturally out of a solid faith. When the Bible does speak about parenting, it’s almost always in the context of teaching kids about God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4).

The relative scarcity of parenting-specific biblical guidance should tell us an awful lot.

Being a parent is an important role, but it’s not an identity.


Role and Identity: The Big Mix-Up


Check out these two definitions.

Identity: “Sameness of essential or generic character in different instances.”

Role: “The function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.”

Jesus in part wants us to be a Godly light to our children; that’s one huge role. But when we confuse that one role with our whole identity, we lose sight of Christ as our foundation.

I just finished the fantastic book, Renegade: Your Faith Isn’t Meant to be Safe, by Vince Antonucci. It in large part inspired this post. In Renegade, Antonucci asks this convicting question: “What are you doing that is only explainable by the fact that you believe in God and follow Jesus?”

Do you have an answer?

Let’s try this question instead: “What are you doing that is only explainable by the fact you are a mom?”

I bet that’s a lot easier to answer…changing diapers, shuttling kids to soccer games, getting involved in the PTA and wiping boogers from noses (surely explainable only by being a mom).

I can tell you that the gulf between my answer to the first question and my answer to the second question is large. Sure, I can say that I pray, read the Bible, and go to church. But what am I doing to be the light to the world I am called to be?

I need to live out a better answer.

I’m standing on the scale and seeing the weight fall toward family, just like more than half of other Christian women. I might say faith is my priority, but my actions and time speak differently. I need to become a Christ-follower (who is also a mom) rather than a Mom (who is also a Christ-follower).

How about you? Does your life say “identity in Christ” or “identity in family?” I’d love to hear your thoughts.

11 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day, But Please, Don’t Just Be a Mom”

  1. I see my faith as intimately connected to my family. God created Adam and Eve to be a family– one who worships him together. So when I think of myself as a mom and as a Christian, both point toward my relationship with Jesus. My duties as a mom and wife should reflect my worship and adoration of Christ: after all he placed me in this family.

    Yes, I am first and foremost a Christian, and if, God forbid, I lost my family, I would still have my identity in tact because it is in Christ. But, even still, I never want to downplay my God-given role as woman, wife, and mom, as serving in these capacities also brings great glory to Christ!

    You’ve pointed out a very accurate issue in today’s world. I see many moms who see themselves primarily as a mom and wife, and put family as top priority. I was one myself until recently. I feel like the Lord opened my eyes to how my roles in the home are interconnected with my identity as a Christian person.

    1. Yes, exactly – our role as a mom and wife must reflect our worship of the Lord and bring glory to Him…as must every other role we have in this life! A Christ-based identity should be like a spring from which all roles flow.

  2. This makes me think of my MIL who devoted her entire adult life to caring for the needs of her family. When her kids grew up and moved out on their own she didn’t broaden her acts of service or gifts, she just poured more of herself into her husband. When he passed away 9 months ago it shook her to the core, naturally. Now she lays on her couch all day depressed and feeling empty. She raised her kids in the church. She goes to church. But she wrapped her entire identity up in serving her role as mom and wife and now she doesn’t know who she is, what to do with herself and has little desire to do anything at all. It’s so important to know who we are in Christ and truly have our own identity and lived passions outside of our family role. Family and motherhood is indeed kingdom work, but it’s not the only thing God has called us to.

    1. Rosann, Thank you for sharing that. I think it happens to so many people. I love how you summarized it all in your last sentence. I should have just posted that as a one sentence blog post. 🙂

  3. Working on Mother’s Day while on vacation? Christian Mom, do you ever rest?

    More seriously, I am struck by your thought, “Being a parent is an important role, but it’s not an identity.” At first, this resonates with my world view, but it occurs to me there is a split between social identity and family identity. As a father, my identity as “parent” is rarely acknowledged in society’s world of business. But, in my family, my identity as father is affirmed hourly. For women, this dichotomy is troubles career mothers much more greatly as the society of business tries but cannot bring itself to recognize the identity of “mother” in the workplace.

    1. haha It’s a joy to write blog posts that have the opportunity to impact someone…even on vacation! 🙂
      I think you’re right, that the temptation to wrap an entire identity in a social role is especially strong for women. I think the most important thing to realize, though, is that the Bible would say the male and female IDENTITY are IDENTICAL…every human’s identity should be in Christ. The Bible speaks to different ROLES for men and women, and I think that is what you are pointing to in your comment – men and women have different expectations and roles in society. We just need to remember that those should NOT be identities.

  4. I resonated with the comment about the MIL because my husband’s mother is a lot like that… she has a bit of a dependent personality to boot, which doesn’t help. When my husband’s father passed away in 2010, she transferred that dependence from him to the rest of the family, who of course were grieving too. They took her with them, invited her for meals, etc. for quite some tmie, but then “real life” took hold, with its jobs and kids and other demands, and though they still took care of her, they couldn’t have her with them 100% of the time. She kind of folded in on herself, and had a series of health scares including seizures and TIAs (“mini strokes”) to the point where now they HAVE to “take care of her” 100% of the time. She’s still living at home, for now, but the time will come when she has one health issue too many and will get admitted and they will tell her they can’t discharge her to home. If that happens, she will deteriorate quickly, She’s only 80. They had their 50th wedding anniversary the summer before he died. But she wrapped her whole self up in the identity of wife and mother, and though many of the family up there say they are Christians, it’s not the core issue it should be for some of them. My husband and I stick out for seeing Christ-things as “so important”, being active in ministry, etc. They don’t understand our priorities because they don’t understand that our identity is Christian first.

    I noticed my Facebook avatar shows up on the post… the picture is cropped from one taken at that 50th anniversary celebration. When I discovered Twibbon, I put the pro-life footprint on and the autism ribbon on (our son is on the spectrum), but I put the Cross up top. That wasn’t by accident. Everything else has to come under the lordship of Christ or it loses its meaning – especially my roles as wife and mother.

  5. I really liked this! I am currently doing a book club with some ladies and reading the book Authentic Relationships by Wayne and Clay Jacobsen. It echoes what you are saying here. It also resonates with what our Pastor spoke of last Sunday. We are supposed to be a participant. We ALL are supposed to be telling (or showing) our relationship with Christ, mainly by our lives. Thank you for your encouragement. Blessings to you!

  6. This is so convicting! Most people are afraid to question the priorities of Christian moms, but it really needs to be said. So many of us are guilty of making an idol out of our families. Thank you for saying what needs to be said, and reminding us to make sure that our priorities are Biblical and Christ-centered.

    I just stumbled on your site this morning (home from church with a sick kiddo), and I’m am so excited about reading through it all!

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