The Discipline of Godly Motherhood

The Discipline of Godly Motherhood

by Leslie Ludy | May 1, 2012

For the last few weeks, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed. Unfinished projects have been piling up around the house because of the amount of traveling we’ve done over the past couple of months – a three-week family trip, then five weekend conferences in a row, all while starting a new Ellerslie semester and home-schooling the kiddos everyday. It’s been an unusually busy schedule, and I’m starting to feel the effects of so many late nights, early mornings, and weekends spent in planes, hotels, and conference buildings.

In times like these, when I am stretched extra thin, it is all too easy to get just a little sloppy in the “smaller” areas of motherhood. I find myself conveniently overlooking certain disciplinary issues with the kids, simply because I do not feel I have the energy to take on the battle. I catch myself wanting to sit and “zone out” while I’m supervising my kids at the park, rather than making the most of each and every moment I have with them. While I’m carrying the weight of a larger-than-life to-do list, all the little interruptions that come with four small children can seem far more stressful and irritating. It is much harder to pause, listen, and respond to their needs with gentleness and patience.

This morning after spending four hours pouring into the kids, I was relieved to have a little window of time to get some things done while the toddlers were resting and the bigger kids were playing. But no sooner had I sat down to check my email when Hudson burst into the room, asking how to spell five different words for a book he was writing. Harper followed close on his heels, begging me to make a princess crown for her Lambie out of colored pipe cleaners. Sigh.

I thought of Martha, who was “encumbered with much serving” and completely overlooking the more important activity that Mary had chosen. I relate to Martha’s tendencies far more then I wish I did. How easy it is to give in to the urgent tasks and disregard the important ones! There were two precious children, creating, inventing, playing, and exploring. And they were inviting me to share in their childlike delight of discovery. Making a princess crown for Lambie and helping Hudson with his new literary release was of far more eternal value than checking my email. But it required a decision of self-denial – saying “no” to what my flesh was craving (a break!) and saying “yes” to the opportunity before me (showing enthusiasm for my children’s worlds).

God has called me to motherhood – with all of its interruptions, inconveniences, and intensities. If I lean upon His grace and not on my own strength, He gives me the ability to “dig down deep” and go the extra mile, even when I do not feel like doing it.

I have found that godly motherhood requires godly discipline. Though I am not a lazy person, mothering four young children presents many temptations to simply pitch my tent, rather than pull up the tent stakes and stride on into God’s endless frontier. It is all too easy to settle for “good enough” instead of fulfilling all my motherhood roles with excellence as unto Christ Jesus.

Disciplining my life around God’s priorities always brings more of God’s grace upon my mothering tasks. Whether it is being diligent to train my children instead of letting certain behaviors slide, getting up extra early so I am well prepared for my teaching time with the kids, or saying “no” to various “self-outlets” during the day, I have found that there is unexpected joy in going the extra mile, even when my flesh balks against it. Watching over the ways of my household rather than eating the bread of idleness brings far greater satis- faction, though it is much harder in the moment.

Here are a few ways I am learning to put this principle into practice:

Healthy “Me Time” Versus Selfish “Me Time”

All mothers need a periodic reprieve from the non-stop intensity of mothering. But it is all too easy to turn this need for a “break” into an outlet for selfishness. Ignoring our children and household tasks while we spend hours of our day chatting with friends, surfing the Internet, browsing Facebook, or spending time on a hobby or side-business will only put our home life into a tailspin. None of these activities are wrong in themselves, but they must be put into proper balance. I set a schedule for time with my kids and time for my household tasks, and for the most part I do not allow temptations such as phone calls, email, the Internet, or hobbies to distract me from this schedule. Planning in a few “fun” things each week (providing that they are spiritually edifying) is a great idea – but allowing those fun things to claim the bulk of our time and energy is unhealthy.

Also, I have found that the best “me time” is actually not “me time” at all, but “God time.” When I take time each day for prayer, quiet times, journaling, worship, and reading Christian biographies, it produces far more lasting results than an hour on the Internet or a trip to the spa.

Dig Down Deep

We all have moments during the day when it is easier just to sit down on the couch (or plop in front of the computer) instead of doing the task that is sitting in front of us. Earlier today there was a sizable mess on the playroom floor. The children were eating lunch, and I had the choice of taking 10 minutes to clean it up or leaving it for later and doing something more enjoyable – like getting on my computer for a few minutes. I get tired of constantly picking up the house and spending 10 minutes putting toys away was one of the last things I felt like doing. But I prayed for an extra measure of grace to “dig down deep” and invest those few minutes of time and energy into keeping my home orderly, instead of letting a mess begin to pile up.

Of course, there are times when it is more appropriate to take a break from household tasks and rest, pray, or just be with my husband and children. However, there are many moments throughout the day when digging down deep and “just doing it” can reap great rewards. I have found that if I discipline myself to “dig down deep” and give energy to the small tasks that my flesh does not feel like doing (whether it is child-training or home-managing) I stay much more on track in my motherhood role.

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One of the best ways that we can teach our children to be disciplined, orderly, and focused on God’s priorities is to model it in our own lives. But remember, the discipline of godly motherhood is not something we can accomplish on our own, no matter how much willpower or determination we muster up. However, when we fully yield to the King of kings, He gives us strength to do what we never could on our own. No matter how overwhelming life might feel at this moment, look to Him for everything you need – His yoke is easy and His burden light. His grace is sufficient, and His reward is great!*

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