Being a Mom and Wife is Enough: A Word for the Burned Out Superwoman

I assume many women feel the way this reader who wrote me feels, so I wanted to give a public answer to encourage other women in her shoes:

“What do you do when you are so weary, you feel like you can’t get through the day? I feel like I try to juggle the expectations of church ministry with that of my family, and it isn’t working. I’m tired, resentful, and bitter. I just want to be a mom and a wife. I feel like crying a lot these days. I try to tell myself it is okay to “just be a mom and a wife” but I feel like to I have to be superwoman as one of the female leaders of our church, where not many people do many things. I’ve recently given up being the coordinator of our church nursery (after doing it for over five years), but no one has stepped in to fill the role and I feel guilty (should I have stayed since no one stepped up? that’s what i keep thinking!). I homeschool (I have 5 children, 7 and under, including twins). that takes up so much time, there’s not much time for anything else. I get up early, stay up way too late, and am still just spinning my wheels. HELP! I read your blog almost daily for encouragement and thank you. I thought maybe you would have personal encouragement for where I find myself now. “

My initial response to a letter like this is, “I think you know why you feel overwhelmed, you just need the reassurance to do what your instincts tell you”.

But I also want to unpack that a little bit, because quite frankly, it discourages me that the church is often one of the most competing forces against the family, weakening it instead of strengthening it.

I don’t want to delve into to “the pros and cons of church programs”, but as much as I tried to avoid that, the connections just beg to be considered.  There is a reason this reader, and many women feel “guilty” or compelled to overextend themselves.  We have to solve that problem before we can adequately solve the question of “can I just be a wife and mother?”

Church programs are sometimes good, sometimes necessary and sometimes not at all and only create more problems.  Sometimes they mimic what the state has done so well:  taking over areas that belong to parents, though well-intentioned, making it easier for parents to abdicate responsibility and more difficult to see the harm in doing so.

Since the nursery was mentioned, walk with me through some thoughts:

Forget for a minute the typical nursery argument, “But what about visitors?” Because that question opens up a whole new subject that will find its own solutions when the body operates biblically!

For now, we’re assuming the church is a place where, like the early church, followers of Christ meet together for worship and fellowship.

What if the church was again simply a place of worship, rest and refreshment for the whole family?

What if families spent time with families in their homes, in a more organic environment where child-training tips were passed along and there wasn’t a need for a nursery?

What if because there wasn’t a nursery parents had no choice but to actually teach them to stay in service as they once did?

What if children were reunited into the body of Christ, truly demonstrating the oneness of which Scripture speaks? Soaking up the beauty and significance of fathers, mothers and children united in the most important event of the week?

And what if now we don’t have to elect nursery coordinators and workers (or make them feel guilty) so that they, too, can be a unified part of the body, resting on the Sabbath AND being refreshed for the upcoming tasks of the week?

Multiply this concept across other areas to see if it fits.

I said all that not to argue the case for a nursery, per se, but to see how often we can create problems in our attempts to fix them.

The answer to this reader’s question is simple:

She has accepted the diminished significance of the role of motherhood.  She has bought into the idea that it’s not enough to raise warriors for Christ, it’s not enough to minister to “the least of these”, it’s not enough to walk alongside these people that are the very heritage of God  and disciple them, it’s not enough to give her life for the family that is her first priority.

I told this dear woman to lay aside every possible extra activity in her life right now except for her duties at home.  She is at the height of her calling, her hands are indeed full, and she is responsible first to her family.  That is the best work she can do.

Does that mean she can’t minister in any other capacity?  Certainly not!  But she is free to guard her time and energy carefully, and not feel guilty about making commitments that may prove too taxing, but she feels she can’t relinquish.  She is free to minister in a way that includes her family and allows her to work around them.  (Raising children, helping a husband and hospitality are the three specific ministries the Bible emphasizes for women.  A widow, in fact, was not to be considered for “the list” if she had neglected these duties.)

I feel so badly that she had to come to my blog and ask me, a mere stranger, to tell her the things she knows in her heart to be true.

Would you tell another mother today that she isn’t obligated to be a superwoman?  Tell her that building her home is Kingdom work and it is adequate.

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96 Responses to “Being a Mom and Wife is Enough: A Word for the Burned Out Superwoman”

  1. Oh how tragic that the Body doesn’t recognize the importance of encouraging mothers to focus on their primary responsibility. There is a wonderful set of tapes (yes, that long ago) by Gregg Harris (father of Joshua Harris) called the Advanced Homeschooling Workshop. It had a profound impact on our lives because it talked about the principle of seasons. During our season of building, we are to focus on our homes. The season of hospitality is when your children are older and have learned their values and visions. That is the season that public ministry fits into. Not only do people in that season have more time, they also have more experience. We HAVE to bless the role of motherhood and restore it to its proper place of honor and passionate purpose. We HAVE to give mothers encouragement to guard this season against things that would dilute its impact and potential for influence.

  2. Renata says:

    I really liked your advice & itś certainly given me something to think about.
    Thankyou
    Renata:)

  3. LucyT says:

    Kelly,AMEN.So many women and church leaders alike need to here this.

  4. Natasha says:

    Yes!!! We just need to serve our families, and our next door neighbor. Think if everyone just took care of their own families and helped out their neighbor? There would be no need for driving to church a couple times a week to serve people in all those different programs. Women who mentor eachother in our neighborhoods and churches is all that is needed. Close mentorship and friendship doesn’t require coordinators. My great grandma had a great “outreach program” where she could serve others, it was called her front porch!! Old and young could gather on the front porch, casually, no formal meeting required because every mom was at Home, not at work. This is when they could share advice about homekeeping and raising families, all while their kids played in the front yard. No need for nursery workers.

    My best friend is so busy doing church meetings with the male pastor that she is taking time away from her family, and now she has no close relationship with her husband, because her time and energy are focused on serving others, not her family. It’s a shame that the church encourages this.

    • “My great grandma had a great “outreach program” where she could serve others, it was called her front porch!! Old and young could gather on the front porch, casually, no formal meeting required because every mom was at Home, not at work. This is when they could share advice about homekeeping and raising families, all while their kids played in the front yard. No need for nursery workers.”

      Love that!

  5. Natasha says:

    Kelly, as much as I love reading your blog, it’s a shame that I have to get on the internet and read a strangers words, instead of being able to get your wisdom from a wife and mother in my family or in my neighborhood, or even my church!

    I want to do my job as a wife and mother exactly how God wants it, and I pray that I may be a good example to others. I wore my apron to the market yesterday, I was in the middle of making sloppy joes when i realized i had no buns. I wanted to make a statement that at 5pm I was wearing my work uniform, my apron, because I was serving my family. I wanted everyone to see that apron and know that I was working for my family, not someone else. Maybe they didn’t think anything of it, lol, but I felt pretty good wearing it 🙂

    • Kim M says:

      Kelly, This is an excellent post. Keep on encouraging and being bold…the women in the body of Christ needs it!

    • Love that you wore your apron!!!

      • Kelly L says:

        An apron what is that? I prefer to have my clothes splashed so I have to spend extra time in laundry. I’d put “lol” but I always forget to put it on and the above scenerio is my life. How about Cry out loud?

        • Natasha says:

          Ha me too! In the past few weeks I have tried to be diligent about wearing my apron, because I am so tired of washing my clothes constantly and being soaking wet and uncomfortable during the day lol.

  6. Teresa says:

    AMEN and AMEN! I have had experience with this…burned myself right out and caused a big rift in my relationship with my husband (not a Christian)…not one church leader spoke out or up but admonished us because we were complaining we were overworked and short-staffed! It has taken me 3 years to repair the damage done – I need to be a wife first, then a mother, then I am able to help in the church. Preach it sister!!!

  7. Charity says:

    After our first child was born our pastor’s wife at the chuch we were attending at the time, said to a room full of people “she could be such a blessing to the church if *that baby* weren’t always on her hip! She has such a beautiful singing voice but you can’t sing and hold a baby.” Don’t know about anyone else but I sing the same holding my children or not! It wasn’t long, and we left this church in search for another because we were told if we didn’t put our baby in nursery that we would have to find somewhere else to worship.

    Anyone who finds a church that is an encouragement to husbands, fathers, wives, mothers…the family, you are *very* blessed. They are SO rare!!

    • Mrs. S says:

      That’s too bad Charity. The attitude that you could be serving better without the “hindrance” of a child the Lord gave you is not godly! The thought has crossed my mind before though…if I had less children and did not homeschool I could do all this other stuff, but that is from the world an not the Lord.

  8. Melissa says:

    This post is right on the truth. It is so easy to get overextended as a woman. The thing I would say to your reader today that I had to walk through myself was… If you died tomorrow, they would still open those doors without you! You, as much as they need you now are not the center of that church God should be. I don’t mean that in a negative way. Like I said I just walked through that last spring. My family left our church with out warning on the Sunday before Easter. Two years of crying about having to go to church on Sundays was getting a little old. The week before I left my church (with 3 kids ages 9,7,4) I catered a banquet for 250 people, sang in the praise team, did 2 solo’s, did a table-scape for a ladies banquet, and helped with various other things. I had NO business doing any of that. When we left we had maybe 3 calls and a couple of cards. Then it was DONE! I am not telling you to leave your church. I am telling you reader that you are not in bondage. I know it feels like it but God is not the giver of bondage, and I know you know who is. Ask yourself are you doing this for God or your reputation. I hope that you will find some answers and peace about this. You are headed down the right path.

  9. R. F. says:

    It is so encouraging to hear your words. I know what I do as a wife and mother is enough, in fact I’m often on my knees because it is overwhelming. I wouldn’t think of adding ministry at church to my list of things to do. Thankfully our church doesn’t badger us to do much. They know our hands are full at home. Before we had children we were very involved, together. Now we have stepped back to take care of the home front. Someday when our children are grown we will once again be able to help at different ministries. Until then…I have a diaper to change and breakfast to make.

  10. Right on!!! I pray this mom heeds your words. God has truly made your website a special place in my life!

  11. Deanna says:

    I so agree with what you have said.

    We used to go to a traditional church with nursery etc…and have seen the pressure women are under both to use the nursery and to work in it. The pastor there just couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t use the nursery. It was a mystery to him.

    We now go to a church where the whole family is together for both Sunday School and Church. It can be noisy at times, but it is wonderful! So precious to be together – no stress of everyone headed in a ton of different directions.

    I see women in my homeschool group who are busy not only raising their children and home educating them but working in ministries in their churches, etc…they are wiped out! I used to do this too…it is just too much.

    These years of raising our children fly by so fast…we need to make the most of every day and hour that we have together! Such a blessing to know that I am doing my “job” I don’t have to feel guilt or stress trying to meet other’s expectations!

    • Jennifer says:

      Nurderies can be a blessing, Deanna, if they’re meant for relief and not force.

      • Jennifer says:

        Ugh, *NURSERIES*

        • R. F. says:

          Jennifer,
          I agree. Our nursery has been a real blessing for us. Volunteers staff it as well as a few paid employees there every week. When my babies are just not going to be quiet, and I am getting nothing out of the service except frustration trying to keep them sitting and quiet, it is great to be able to leave them with the elderly women longing to play with a baby again. I enjoy the hour break and it blesses the women who work there as well.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing. This exact topic, whether I am doing enough for God as a wife, mother, and homemaker has been heavy on my heart this week. I know that it is, but sometimes I miss the outward assurance of others.

    I wanted to share a verse that has also been helpful as I struggle with this and with prioritizing. I was listening to a sermon which was part of a series on Nehemiah and this jumped out at me: (Neh 6:3) “And I sent messengers to them, [the opponents of Nehemiah who were asking for a meeting with him] saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?'” It is not really aimed at the homemaker, but I love the idea of doing a great work that takes precedence over other things.

  13. Mrs. S says:

    Yes! I have turned down being a Sunday school teacher, women’s retreat weekends, and evening women’s studies/gatherings because I just personally cannot do all that. I love to read the list of the eligible widows when I feel pressured to overextend. I cannot be away from my family and home too much if I want to serve my family and provide hospitality to whomever the Lord brings my way. There is so much to do and I want to do it well and through the Spirit! Not in a frazzled fleshly way (does that make sense?)

    I do work in the nursery, but I would love if our church was set up in a more integrated way. Our last church just had a side room with a speaker for the sermon and people could go in there when their baby was crying or a child need to be disciplined. Otherwise, children stayed right there with their parents. I am having a dilemma right now because my 6yo goes to the sunday school but I would rather have him with us…but then he will be the only child his age not there…anyway, I need to talk with dh about that.

  14. jen in AL says:

    This is a great post! A much needed reminder of what is simply the plain teaching of Scripture! It is a tragedy that this truth is not CLEARLY communicated to every family in every body of believers. Thank you for making this blog a place where sweet wives and mommies can always find encouragement in their calling from the Lord. blessings, jen in al

  15. Dawn says:

    As the parents of 10 children, 8 of whom are still underage, my husband and I have chosen a different way to deal with the pressures of church. We teach the first grade Sunday School class together, and our children ages 12 down to 3 all come in there with us. The older ones help, and the little guy joins in.
    We all worship together. Our 3 yr old has been trained from babyhood to sit on my lap during worship, and he does so. The others line up on our row and worship with us.
    I have the gift of teaching and my hubs has the gift of serving, so this arrangement has worked well for us. We love getting to know and influence the kids in our class, and we don’t feel the pressure to put our kids in classes.
    Even though our church is not labeled “family integrated”, we have made it that way for our family!

    • Kelly L says:

      Dawn, that is awesome that you do it and they allow it. Our daughter was serving with me on the computer when they said she couldn’t because other kids her age weren’t allowed to, they moved us to a table where she helps me. (Other parents weren’t helping though). We are just as happy to be there where she helps me too. So when they asked if I’d help with an upcoming event, I told them we served as a family, or we wouldn’t serve. I don’t think they really understand, but they are allowing her to help out with it anyway. I don’t understand anyone’s desire to separate the family instead of allowing them to work in unity!

      • Natasha says:

        Kelly- Love it!! Serving the church as a family, You did that so tactfully yet it reigned truth and let them know what was important. I will remember your response “So when they asked if I’d help with an upcoming event, I told them we served as a family, or we wouldn’t serve.”

        Thank you 🙂

  16. Gayle says:

    Just like this reader I was trying to juggle a million “hats” within our church (that we ended up leaving several years ago)when my children were young. I was nursery coordinator, helped extensively with children’s ministry, taught children’s S.S., taught women’s Bible study and was essentially there every single time the doors were open. PLUS, I had 4 children aged 7 and under whom I was homeschooling.

    I am just shaking my head right now at the rememberance of all of that. What in the world was I thinking?! I was doing *nothing* well, least of all being a good wife and mama.

    God has since graciously opened my eyes to the real calling of those that are wives and mothers, and I can tell you that it most certainly does not look like that. There is such freedom (and still plenty of hard work) when you devote your priorities and energies to your family first, and the fruit, in my experience, is far greater.

    “Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be BUSY AT HOME, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:4-5

    • Gayle says:

      By the way, I hope this doesn’t sound judgemental of the person who wrote in. I just look back and remember how much I feel like I robbed my family and it hurts. I really don’t want that to happen to anyone else.
      God is so loving to us though, and He always mercifully opens up our eyes before it’s too late when we are earnestly seeking Him (and alot of times, even when we are not). I’m praying, in Christ’s love, for this reader right now.

    • Jennifer says:

      “I was nursery coordinator, helped extensively with children’s ministry, taught children’s S.S., taught women’s Bible study and was essentially there every single time the doors were open”

      That’s not “nothing”, Gayle, and plenty of wives and moms are called to do that. Or at least SOME of that.

      • Lori says:

        Actually Jennifer, she said she did “nothing well.”

      • Sarah says:

        While plenty of wives and mothers do these things, I sincerely wonder if they were CALLED to do these things, at least while they had small children at home.

        I used to be a youth leader and children’s church director and sunday school teacher and a worship team member….before I got married. I quickly learned what so many of you have. We left several churches for reasons related to issues with the children’s programs, including the children’s church director saying “You have to stop having babies so you can help more!” (I was pregnant with number four and my oldest was three years old.) Help more? I couldn’t remember the last time I was in the church service, I was “helping” so much!

        We attended family integrated churches for about 5 years. Right now we are going to the church I grew up in and while they have programs for the kids, we don’t participate in the Sunday ones. Our girls are now 9, 8, 7, 5, we’ve had some losses prior to birth and our baby is 8 weeks. I am SO RELIEVED to know that I don’t HAVE to (and really shouldn’t) do all that stuff to be the woman God has called me to be.

  17. Kris says:

    Excellent advice!

  18. Danielle says:

    I am thankful that my pastors and their wives understand this! I do the church bulletin… but I am able to do it from home and if I don’t have a chance to copy it, the assistant pastor gladly does it. Family first! I also send out a lot of cards… my ministry when I need to be home:-) We do have a nursery and many of us use it and many of us do not. I have never felt pressure to drop them off or keep them. I am thankful today for that!

    I gave up that superwoman job a number of years ago:-) We are happier and I really feel like we have more of a ministry together than we did apart. And to the the tired mom that asked the question… It gets easier! I have noticed such a changed with my 6 as my older boys carry more responsibility!!! I am still tired, but not overly stressed. If I do feel stressed, I know I need to pull back and regroup!

  19. Sylvia says:

    Relate very much to this post. I used to be involved in a very small way in ministry which meant taking the gospel to non-christins in my teens in my native country. We used to teach people to read/write, talk about the gospel, do medical ministry through our church youth group. I was a teenager then. When I had my own family I went through a period where I felt I was not doing enough or God was not using me enough. Until I realized God used me differently in a different season of life when I had lesser responsilities. He was still using me. I just had to realize it was in a different way. Not everyone is called upon to minister the same way. Like the proverb of the talents, we are given different gifts and reasons. It is how we use our talents that matters and hopefully it is for His Glory.

  20. brenda says:

    Oh it pains me to think of the hours I spent with my back to my husband and daughters working on ministry stuff on the computer. I was doing what I was good at (using my talents…my gifts..whatever) and serving in ministry. HOW could that be wrong?

    It was wrong because I was neglecting the things I had been given to do by the Lord. I repented. I quit. I have not looked back. It was so wonderful. I wish everyone knew.

  21. rejoicealways says:

    Great article, just what I needed to hear this week. Since having baby #3 I’ve had so less time to do things/prepare for things I’ve really been needing to put my foot down. God & family first.

  22. Oh dear – I think a vein pops in my head every time I hear the old “I can’t get anything out of the service with my baby there” argument. Sorry, I know it’s not popular, but Church is NOT entertainment for which we need a babysitter… it’s worship – it’s for God, not us. We’re supposed to be there to praise Him, according to his direction (which says nothing of all kids under five need to wait in the lobby). Yes, of course he uses it to unite us in His cause, but wouldn’t that mean, all the more, that children should be there, too?

    ***here endeth the rant***but I’m not done with the point…

    I wrote earlier this week about another writers post – you can link to it through my name if you like – about the sin of “Christian” busy-ness, and our flagrant neglect of the needy (in this case, the needy were her own family during the NICU/life or death vigil they kept for their infant daughter) so we might get to “Church” and “do some good”. The author described it as “missing a God appointment because of a previously scheduled religious appointment” or something to that effect.

    We become so busy that we neglect our own charges (including ourselves!), for relatively unimportant things. At what point did we decide we needed a church nursery? What if one of the nursery volunteers – who wasn’t needed because we decided not to discriminate based on age in our churches – was available to care for the children of a mother who did not know if her next trip to see her baby daughter might be the last? Or a sweet teenage girl who has many brothers and sisters and can manage a pew or two on her own, serving her own Mom and others, and shows little ones how to find their places in the hymnal, and in the Body?

    • Jennifer says:

      “Sorry, I know it’s not popular, but Church is NOT entertainment for which we need a babysitter… it’s worship – it’s for God, not us”

      Actually, it’s also a place where we learn from God, which can be impossible if there’s a screaming child. There’s no NEED for a baby to be in a service, in any case; that might not be popular HERE, but it’s true.

      “our flagrant neglect of the needy (in this case, the needy were her own family during the NICU/life or death vigil they kept for their infant daughter) so we might get to “Church” and “do some good””

      That IS horrific and insane, but it’s hardly the norm. Getting a nursery for fussy babies or babies who have needs that negate sitting for an hour is not the same as abandoning an ill child just to make some religious “importance”.

      “We become so busy that we neglect our own charges (including ourselves!), for relatively unimportant things.”

      True, but I’m sure you don’t find church or ministry to be unimportant. Likewise, some put family too high; some expect their daughters to be mini-moms and neglect their own growth, with God and in general, to consistently serve their younger siblings as a parent would.

      “At what point did we decide we needed a church nursery?”

      Perhaps around the time when Christians realized that babies do not in fact have spirituality and will not, for example, be damned to hell if un-baptized or the child of atheistic parents. Just a thought.

      • “True, but I’m sure you don’t find church or ministry to be unimportant.” – not nearly as important as serving directly when I’m asked. Actually, that’s an element of hospitality that is part of the very specific ministry I’m called to. There’s a lot of “show me how to serve in my circumstance” prayers offered up, and a lot of walking around those opportunities when they’re put in our paths.

        “That IS horrific and insane, but it’s hardly the norm.” Jennifer, I’m sorry, I can’t remember if you have children and that’s the perspective I’m coming from – this is more “the norm” than you may be aware of. It’s just not talked about, no one wants to be seen as a whiner, even in dire need – it’s another dirty little secret of false busy-ness.

        “Actually, it’s also a place where we learn from God, which can be impossible if there’s a screaming child.” Yes! Amen! We can learn from God at church – even through the cries of a screaming infant, if we’re careful to pay attention to the real lesson. Ironic that the GodMan was a screaming, spirituality-less (to borrow your theory), infant Himself – so inconvenient and disruptive ;)! And praise His holy name, we can also learn about Him sitting in traffic, at the library, taking a shower….that’s the beauty of His infinite presence in the everyday. And I’ll bet the sermon is on tape and the Pastor would be delighted to share it with us, in case we missed something.

        “There’s no NEED for a baby to be in a service, in any case;”
        Really? I couldn’t disagree more. A Body with all it’s parts functions best. Even the small ones are noticed when they’re missing. Babies and children have value in our corporate worship, regardless of our (in)tolerance of them – thank God.

        Back to the original point of WW’s post…the things we choose to be busy with seem to interfere with larger needs. I would rather help a mom on the rare occasion her baby is fussy in church, and have that baby with our Church family at the one time a week we’re all together, than to require another Mom to be stressed and separated from Church and neglecting herself and her own family while she runs Sunday day care for my convenience. I don’t think it’s my place to increase her work load, most especially over a non-essential. And if a crying baby somehow interferes with my spiritual growth, then a crying baby is the least of my problems that no amount of intellectual Biblical scholarship is likely to fix, thus Sunday service has been rendered irrelevant.

        • Word Warrior says:

          Cotage child,

          Aptly defended.

          My 2 favorite points:

          “because we decided not to discriminate based on age in our churches”…

          “Let the little children come and DO NOT FORBID THEM”

          Hmmm…weren’t the rebuked disciples afraid that the crowd might “miss” something from Jesus’ teaching if a little one was in the way?

          and

          “And if a crying baby somehow interferes with my spiritual growth, then a crying baby is the least of my problems that no amount of intellectual Biblical scholarship is likely to fix, thus Sunday service has been rendered irrelevant.”

          “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise…” It’s amazing how highly we regard our own pragmatism in the face of blatant truth…

          For the record, our church has a “cry room” which is wonderful for nursing mothers, children in training or little ones who need a reprieve. It’s not about “never take a child out” just the principal of “Sunday day care” as you put it instead of incorporating the whole body during worship.

          • The cry room – a wonderful invention. We have joked that we should change cry rooms to Irritated Unaccommodating Self-Centered Adult rooms. There we might be undisturbed, except by gum chewing and coughing and bulletin shuffling and oxygen pumps….oh, and snoring and audible gas-passing. You know, all those pesky HUMAN behaviors. (make no mistake – my friends and I agree we’d be taking turns sitting in there – like grown up time out).

        • Lori says:

          “if a crying baby somehow interferes with my spiritual growth, then a crying baby is the least of my problems that no amount of intellectual Biblical scholarship is likely to fix, thus Sunday service has been rendered irrelevant.”

          AMEN! Truly billboard worthy – it should get its own sermon. It’s so interesting how people start the conversation about nurseries w/ the comment “it’s just a way to serve our mothers” but it so often turns into the rejection of our youngest members – “we don’t need them in service.” Or, “they’re so disruptive.” So, what started out seeming altruistic is really (often, not always, but often) thinly veiled self-centeredness or age-ism.

          And for the record – (Luke 19:40)no one is needed in any worship service. God does not need us to worship Him. It is purely our priveledge to worship Him. We are all as unneeded as that infant. If we do not worship, then the rocks will. God invites us, even tells us, but He does not need us.

          • Lori – agreed, God doesn’t have need for us – when I say “for God”, I mean in obedience to Him. The benefit is all ours, worshiping together in His name, for His Glory and His pleasure.

            • Lori says:

              Oh, no no, my comment had nothing to do w/ any disagreement w/ you – I am in total agreement! My note about God not needing our worship was a direct response to Jennifer’s comment that babies aren’t needed in the worship.

          • Jennifer says:

            “This is more “the norm” than you may be aware of”

            That’s awful.

            “Hmmm…weren’t the rebuked disciples afraid that the crowd might “miss” something from Jesus’ teaching if a little one was in the way?”

            I think those little ones were children old enough to understand what He spoke of. Our little children are taught Christ’s teachings in these nursery/classrooms.

            “”Yes! Amen! We can learn from God at church – even through the cries of a screaming infant, if we’re careful to pay attention to the real lesson. And if a crying baby somehow interferes with my spiritual growth, then a crying baby is the least of my problems that no amount of intellectual Biblical scholarship is likely to fix, thus Sunday service has been rendered irrelevant”

            CC, if you want to bring in a baby on the chance he won’t cry, I don’t care; that’s lovely, and I never thought babies should be FORBIDDEN from the sanctuary. But trying to reason away the necessity and politeness of removing a crying, unhappy child? If you have a miraculous ability to close your ears when a child’s piercing cry swells over and over again, that’s wonderful, but for those of us who are sinful enough to be bothered by such a thing, due to natural physical reaction, it’s just rude and unnecessary. Sorry. Sunday school does NOT keep a child away from Jesus, it presents to them simply different teachers to spread His words.

            “Ironic that the GodMan was a screaming, spirituality-less (to borrow your theory), infant Himself – so inconvenient and disruptive!”

            Yes it is, but that has nothing to do with this point. Christ had an awareness His entire life that normal people are without. I did not at any point call babies in general a disruptance.

            “Really? I couldn’t disagree more. A Body with all it’s parts functions best. Even the small ones are noticed when they’re missing. Babies and children have value in our corporate worship, regardless of our (in)tolerance of them – thank God”

            Yes, really. Babies are part of a human family too, but that doesn’t mean they’re required to be in the same room with the adults at all times in order to count.

            “And for the record – (Luke 19:40)no one is needed in any worship service”

            Oh yes they are. WE need to worship Him and learn from Him, Lori. And it’s literally impossible to hear a semron with a screaming infant. Keeping the infant in a sermon is rude, unnecessary and helps NO ONE, including the child himself. It’s ridiculous to the point of self-importance, and only a self-important parent will keep a screamer in the sermon to pierce the ears of others who may have different common sense on the matter.

            “So, what started out seeming altruistic is really (often, not always, but often) thinly veiled self-centeredness or age-ism”

            Very selfish indeed of me to wish to appreciate a sermon and not have my eardrums, which are really incredibly sensitive, pierced by a child who will gain nothing from it. This is why we have Sunday school, which starts at an early age: there is nothing sinful with adults teaching little ones the Bible on a level they’ll understand and an environment they’ll enjoy. This consideration, of kids and other people, is not selfish in the least. But a parent who wishes to keep her shrieking infant in a sermon, ignoring the discomfort or even pain of her church family for her own convenient belief that kids should be “treasured” at every moment? Very selfish, I think.

            ‘Actually, it’s also a place where we learn from God, which can be impossible if there’s a screaming child. There’s no NEED for a baby to be in a service’

            “So the logic follows that we are “doing the mother a favor” by isolating the baby or “it’s in everyone’s best interest that the children leave””

            The mother can do whatever she wants, including stay with the baby, but it’s in the other members’ best interest and the child’s that the child receive the attention he needs in a quieter and separate place.

            “Separating children from the worship of our Lord is devaluing to the worth of a child”

            That couldn’t be LESS true, and it’s a smacking insult to the women in my church who delight in looking after the little ones and TEACHING them God’s Word. Not a single one of those women devalue children or would put anything above their own families. Our church members are welcome to have babies in the sanctuary, and children may stay if they want, or go to Sunday school. But an unruly child should not be kept in the sanctuary on the basis of the mother’s need to prove he’s worthy of being a church member.

            “(By the way, no one has suggested it is not appropriate to carry out a screaming child until he is calm.)”

            Actually, Cottage Child implied it’s a spiritual error to be bothered by a screaming child and you and Lori agreed with her. THIS has been my main point, that and the fact that it’s not spiritually harmful for the baby to miss the sermon.

            “There again, NOT saying a child can’t ever be taken out, or there’s no place for a “cry room”….”

            It would have been nice if you’d said this from the start, as I was never in favor of devaluing children or declaring them non-human. Again, my church WELCOMES babies and kids in the sanctuary, but when a baby’s fussy, they should be removed and small kids should be given the option of attending Sunday School.

            • “when a baby’s fussy, they should be removed”…whew, something we can agree on.

              As to the rest of it, you put an awful lot of words and conclusions on my page that just weren’t there. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

              • Jennifer says:

                It’s alright Cottage Child, sorry I misunderstood. I’m especially sorry that my own view, which is simply that fussy babies should be removed, wasn’t clear and was confused with the “babies shouldn’t be in a sermon period” view.

            • Lori says:

              Oh Jennifer, for shame, you have truly misrepresented CC!
              Jennifer – “But trying to reason away the necessity and politeness of removing a crying, unhappy child?”

              CC- ” Even the small ones are noticed when they’re missing. Babies and children have value in our corporate worship, regardless of our (in)tolerance of them – thank God.

              Back to the original point of WW’s post…the things we choose to be busy with seem to interfere with larger needs. I WOULD RATHER HELP A MOM ON THE RARE OCCASSION HER BABY IS FUSSY IN CHURCH, and have that baby with our Church family at the one time a week we’re all together, than to require another Mom to be stressed and separated from Church and neglecting herself and her own family while she runs Sunday day care for my convenience.”

              All she has said is that
              1- she is HAPPY to help a woman w/ a fussy baby (which certainly implies that fussy babies are cared for and calmed/removed)

              2- if your spiritual growth is hindered by the occasional crying baby (which no one said is in the service the whole spell) then you have far more serious problems than one 40 min sermon (or the few min you actually have to hear the crying) is going to fix. It could only hinder your growth if you refuse to study the rest of the week. You’re not one of those types, I trust.

              Jen- “Oh yes they are. WE need to worship Him and learn from Him, Lori.”
              Oh, and by the way, I did not claim that we don’t need to worship God. I very clearly claimed that he doesn’t need our worship. You would do well to re-read a post occasionally to make sure you’ve read it properly before commenting (thought you might have learned that lesson after misunderstanding Gayle’s comment, even though her grammar was correct.). Really.

              • Jennifer says:

                “If your spiritual growth is hindered by the occasional crying baby (which no one said is in the service the whole spell) then you have far more serious problems than one 40 min sermon (or the few min you actually have to hear the crying) is going to fix”

                It wasn’t made clear to me that a crying child WOULD be removed in that particular post, just that crying shouldn’t hinder one’s learning from the sermon. It was a misunderstanding on both sides: I thought CC thought kids should be in the sermon at all times and crying shouldn’t hinder our learning, and she thought I approved of kids being gone from the sanctuary at all times, even as a rule.

                “It could only hinder your growth if you refuse to study the rest of the week. You’re not one of those types, I trust.”

                No I’m not, thank you. But I do hate missing our awesome pastor’s lessons.

                “I very clearly claimed that he doesn’t need our worship”

                And I didn’t contradict this, but clarified that we ARE needed in church, Lori. For who? For ourselves, for society.

                “You would do well to re-read a post occasionally to make sure you’ve read it properly before commenting”

                Again, it wasn’t clarified that a baby would or should be removed in that post; I responded to what I saw. I’m putting no fault on CC, but I did not place any words into her post.

                “(Thought you might have learned that lesson after misunderstanding Gayle’s comment, even though her grammar was correct.). Really.”

                It’s a lesson I’ve learned more than once without your help, Lori, but in this case as I said before, it was a mutual misunderstanding. As for Gayle, I already acknowledged that as my mistake, grammar and all.

                • “It wasn’t made clear to me that a crying child WOULD be removed in that particular post” They should. That they aren’t always is too bad, but I wouldn’t take it personally.

                  “crying shouldn’t hinder one’s learning from the sermon.” It shouldn’t. That it does is part of a larger issue.

                  Both statements are true.

                  “she thought I approved of kids being gone from the sanctuary at all times, even as a rule.” No, I didn’t mean to suggest you suggested that. Sorry.

                  • Jennifer says:

                    No problem CC, sorry I mistook what you were suggesting too. Thanks for the clarity.

                    • Jennifer says:

                      I assumed you misunderstoof because I wasn’t clear. I love seeing babies in the sanctuary; it’s amazing what little ones can sleep through. My niece loves to dance to music at a year old, and she moved around quite a bit during the worship music at church while still in her mom’s womb.

              • Thanks, Lori. You restated what I meant better than I wrote it originally.

  23. Natasha says:

    Jennifer- It might help you to read each post and find what you agree with, or something that you need to seek more information on ( scripture, prayer guidance etc) Instead of reading each post to find what you Don’t agree with.

    I have found that if I take a Godly woman’s advice and chew on it for awhile, instead of dismissing it and trying to find fault, I grow more maturely in my relationship with God. I am very very opinionated but there are so many things that I have completely changed my view on because God convicted me and showed be there was a better way.

    For example, the whole nursery situation. I agreed with you 100 percent up until a year ago, when i decided to really listen to what a godly woman was saying and I found that she had scripture and a biblical basis to back up her convictions, where I had none. I’m so thankful that the Lord has shown me to not be so quick to disagree with everyone, but to seek hard to find the Truth and what is God’s will and purpose.

    Just something I have learned and am trying to do. If we really want the older women to teach the young, then the Young need to willingly be quick to listen and slow to form a contrary opinion.

    • Jennifer says:

      I don’t read posts to disagree with them, Natasha, I read these articles to be encouraged and challenged. I really prefer not to disagree with people.

      “I agreed with you 100 percent up until a year ago, when i decided to really listen to what a godly woman was saying and I found that she had scripture and a biblical basis to back up her convictions, where I had none”

      So she quoted Scripture at you and you decided she had the irrefutable right to keep a noisy kid in the sanctuary? There’s no Scripture for that.

      “If we really want the older women to teach the young, then the Young need to willingly be quick to listen and slow to form a contrary opinion”

      The Young and the old in my church and every one I know are in agreement about this, Natasha. My ears disagree with the idea of a noisy child in sermon, and they will not be dissuaded.

      • Natasha says:

        Jennifer- you just confirmed my comments again by taking everything I wrote and commented how wrong I was. I tried to be polite in my response, it was meant to be encouraging, it was a lesson I had to learn, and I am glad I finally did.

        As for my friend and this comment “I agreed with you 100 percent up until a year ago, when i decided to really listen to what a godly woman was saying and I found that she had scripture and a biblical basis to back up her convictions, where I had none”

        Jennifer- “So she quoted Scripture at you and you decided she had the irrefutable right to keep a noisy kid in the sanctuary? There’s no Scripture for that.”

        You just missed the whole point Jennifer. You are quarreling about letting screaming children stay in church. Everyone else on the post seemed to be on the same page about taking a screaming child out of the service until they regain their composure. Why did you miss that?
        Because you were too busy thinking of ways to contradict what we were saying instead of really seeking out the truth, the Big picture. The BIG picture, is that WE the church need to make sure we are including everyone one of all ages into the worship service. Everyone else got that except you.

        I’m trying to learn of a better way to do things, and you just keep harping on screaming children in the service. Please try to add to the conversation and stop nit picking. I’m sure you have plenty of encouraging and thought provoking comments besides taking the obvious and making it into a big issue and missing the whole point.

        And as for the nurseries, most are always understaffed and have the same people working in them, mothers of young children. The nurseries I have visited in many states are not filled with grandma workers. I think there is a better way, and that’s what we are all trying to get at.

        I apologize, we should have ignored your arguments, and just answered you with the correct way to train up a child to sit still and be quite during the service.

        I would not have responded to you this way, but I have noticed a pattern in the way you respond to posts, and although it doesn’t upset me, I know you are missing out on a lot by always coming from a different angle but failing to see others point until you have already made many many contrary posts. It’s not a bad thing to be skeptical, but not until you have really thought about what other experienced women ( not me, i am not very experienced yet!) have to say.

        • Debbie says:

          Natasha, I didn’t even finish reading your Post, because I just had to reply to say to all you lovely sisters, quit picking on Jennifer! We mamas are busy enough and when I read this whole beautiful thread I do not back up to re-read unless it seems confusing. I, too, initially heard (I think it was in CC’s comment) that crying children should not be removed. Forgive me, it’s just how I read it. And I didn’t think twice, why? Because there are some women out there who strive for attachment parenting at all costs, even to the detriment of those around them in church gatherings.
          Please, don’t judge me for my comments. I am not a wordsmith as some of you are, and I’m just finding encouragement here like so many of you are. I will say, we love keeping our babies 4, 2 and 11mos with us at church as much as possible. Sunday school is available and I appreciate it. I am still growing, as I hope we all are. I do see the validity in questioning how we worship, how we live in our families, how much else we take on as ministry and when, and letting the Lord lead us, rather than our own desires, however noble they may seem. Thank you for the post, the candid feedback, and the overall encouragement to take stock of how we spend time as wives, moms, and church members. Jennifer, be encouraged!

  24. Natasha says:

    Also, i just thought of something. What if those older women who long to hold a baby again, could offer to hold a baby and sit next to the mom during the service. Maybe hold the baby and walk around with the baby in the back of the congregation?

    How about an experienced mother seeing a mom struggling to keep her kids quit and still during the service, that mom could come sit next to them and maybe give her a break and encouragement by smiling at her and show her how to discipline the kids so they will sit still during the service.

    Sounds better than a separate room for all the babies.

    • Word Warrior says:

      On that note, Natasha, an older widow recently joined her church. She has told me so many times the incredible blessing it has been to be surrounded in church by children and what a sadness it was at her previous church that was emptied of them. In her words…”it’s just not the way it should be”.

  25. Word Warrior says:

    I realize I’ll get rotten tomatoes for this but I couldn’t help thinking, per a few of the comments above, namely,

    “Actually, it’s also a place where we learn from God, which can be impossible if there’s a screaming child. There’s no NEED for a baby to be in a service”

    So the logic follows that we are “doing the mother a favor” by isolating the baby or “it’s in everyone’s best interest that the children leave”.

    (By the way, no one has suggested it is not appropriate to carry out a screaming child until he is calm.)

    How subtle this thinking gets us into major trouble! (Pragmatism over principle) Do you know why the pro-choice movement refuses to recognize the baby as a human? Because they must purify their driving passion to “do what’s best for the mother and society” and thus must devalue the worth of the child compared to the adult’s worth. The principle is thrown out for the temporary pragmatic solution to the “problem”.

    Separating children from the worship of our Lord is devaluing to the worth of a child and smacks of the same ideology as the pro-life movement has adopted.

    There again, NOT saying a child can’t ever be taken out, or there’s no place for a “cry room”….but many churches almost force the children to leave the place of worship so the “more valued members can actually learn something”.

    • No tomatoes – a round of applause. We’re operating from a nearly futile position when it comes to alleviating poverty, hunger, and slavery, even environmental and educational crises, until we value human life from it’s advent. It’s like putting bandaids on bleeding arteries separating the issues from the core principle. You regard life as sacred or you don’t – there’s no allowance for variable humanity according to age or contribution to the mythical “greater good”, whatever that is. Until we can unite on that single concept, that each individual matters fully, instantly, from conception and thereafter, solutions to the king-making (and breaking) issues will remain mythical. “Choice” insists that we diminish life, abundantly.

    • Jennifer says:

      Taken from an upper post of mine:

      ‘Actually, it’s also a place where we learn from God, which can be impossible if there’s a screaming child. There’s no NEED for a baby to be in a service’

      “So the logic follows that we are “doing the mother a favor” by isolating the baby or “it’s in everyone’s best interest that the children leave””

      The mother can do whatever she wants, including stay with the baby, but it’s in the other members’ best interest and the child’s that the child receive the attention he needs in a quieter and separate place.

      “Separating children from the worship of our Lord is devaluing to the worth of a child”

      That couldn’t be LESS true, and it’s a smacking insult to the women in my church who delight in looking after the little ones and TEACHING them God’s Word. Not a single one of those women devalue children or would put anything above their own families. Our church members are welcome to have babies in the sanctuary, and children may stay if they want, or go to Sunday school. But an unruly child should not be kept in the sanctuary on the basis of the mother’s need to prove he’s worthy of being a church member.

      “(By the way, no one has suggested it is not appropriate to carry out a screaming child until he is calm.)”

      Actually, Cottage Child implied it’s a spiritual error to be bothered by a screaming child and you and Lori agreed with her. THIS has been my main point, that and the fact that it’s not spiritually harmful for the baby to miss the sermon.

      “There again, NOT saying a child can’t ever be taken out, or there’s no place for a “cry room”….”

      It would have been nice if you’d said this from the start, as I was never in favor of devaluing children or declaring them non-human. Again, my church WELCOMES babies and kids in the sanctuary, but when a baby’s fussy, they should be removed and small kids should be given the option of attending Sunday School.

      • “Actually, Cottage Child implied it’s a spiritual error to be bothered by a screaming child and you and Lori agreed with her.”

        Again, you’ve misunderstood. Being bothered is human, assigning so much value to our own peace and quiet that we miss the message of corporate worship is lazy Christianity, and there is nothing spiritual about it. Huge difference.

      • Jennifer says:

        “There again, NOT saying a child can’t ever be taken out, or there’s no place for a “cry room”….”

        It would have been nice if you’d said this from the start, as I was never in favor of devaluing children or declaring them non-human”

        Apparently it was also necessary for me to clarify that I don’t think kids should be forcibly given to nurseries or forbidden from the sanctuary automatically. I had said earlier that nurseries are a blessing if used for relief and not force, so I assumed my thoughts about kids not being forbidden from the sanctuary were clear.

        • Word Warrior says:

          The thing to grasp here is the huge difference in “taking a crying baby out” which everyone agrees is preferable, and creating a permanent place for children to be isolated from parents.

          And you must understand the slippery slope….if there’s a nursery available, most parents will default to placing a baby there, fussy or not. Then the baby turns to a child and we send him to children’s church. It’s a nice thought that “it’s there if we want to use it” but more often than not, once it’s available, parents are expected to use it (gosh, now I’m thinking about the slippery slope of birth control–this is why I tend to be such a black and white person.) I’ve experienced it myself and others can testify to the shocked looks and comments of nursery and sunday school workers when we simply opted to keep our children with us. “What’s wrong with you?” the responses implied.

          Our point is, you take fussy babies out but when children are welcomed and expected to be in corporate worship (the place where we come to Jesus, regardless of age) and there aren’t 8 programs tempting us to forbid them, the church becomes unified and we don’t create more problems (see original point of post). Hope that’s clear…feeling kind of fuzzy headed today.

          • Jennifer says:

            It’s clear, thanks. Hope you’re feeling ok.

            • R. F. says:

              Wow, I’ve been away a while and what a firestorm I missed. I’m one of those that appreciate the nursery for when my children need it. And they don’t always need it. One thing that seems to be sticking out to me is the idea that unless children are in the same service as adults, they are missing out on worshing God. Our church has seating for about 300 people, around 400 attend (one service). We had a huge problem this past spring with seating for everyone. Chairs were set up in fellowship hall. School age children who knew how to sit quietly alone were encouraged to sit in fellowship hall for worship. They sing praise songs, recite the apostles creed, Lords prayer, offering, communion and sermon. The difference? It is led by children (except the sermon which is done by an adult who attended an earlier service, we have two). I do not believe for one minute that these children are not worshiping God. We are not hindering them from coming to Jesus, they are coming to Him on their own. Being apart from their parents for an hour on Sunday does not appear to hinder their spiritual growth.
              Sorry, but I have heard the arguements from both sides. Right now I feel God’s presence and work in our church, and I can’t for one minute believe that what we are doing is wrong. There is true spritual growth happening and I am excited to see so many children in our church. Because we really do value them.

  26. Jennifer says:

    On the topic of a burned out Superwoman, I recall a particular commentator on the “Monstrous Regiment” DVD who shared how she was pushed into ministry, miserable, and told by one of her friends that she had to stop this crying because God wanted her to give up her husband and family (I’m pretty sure those were her exact words). The lady in question, Kathleen was her name, luckily knew she was wrong and resolved the matter that night with her husband. She said God doesn’t give us conflicting roles, and it’s very true. What an utter relief.

  27. LucyT says:

    I made the mistake of taking my baby to the nursery one fussy day and now she begs to be taken so she can play and whatch barney.Hugh mistake?

    Children belong in church they are adults in training and they need to learn by example.Children learn to talk by hearing language used way before they can use it thierselves and thay need to learn to worship the same way.

  28. Natasha says:

    LucyT- yes the nurseries we looked into all had t.vs.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing to teach a child to sit still and be well behaved during a two hour service. Good training for self control.

    We have been practicing this with out girls at home, making them sit next to us on the couch without being entertained. Thank you for this advice from “Raising Godly Tomatoes”!

    Also, I think it is really awesome when a child gets to see his dad worship when they are in church together. I know I love to see grown men really worshipping the Lord, and I love that my girls will be seeing this for many years to come, so when it comes time for them to be married they will know what a worshipping man looks like.

    And we teach our kids the bible at their age level for understanding at home, and when we take them to church with us some of the service maybe a little over their heads, but that’s a good thing. It leaves room for growth and opportunity to show us things that they do understand that maybe we thought would be too far above them. Does that make sense? I am continually amazed at how much my kids “get” things. It’s amazing they have only been on this earth for a few years!

    As for the overworked Mom- this is why my mom stopped taking us to church when I was little. She was constantly in the nursery working because so few people volunteered, and she had to do so many other things in the church. She was exhausted. So we stopped going, and she didn’t take us back. What a shame, we missed out on a lot because the church elders didn’t recognize that a mom needed to be serving her family first.

  29. Jess in Peru says:

    We do “family” worship at home and it such a blessing to all of us. At church, the kids go to their respective classes and each one is blessed tremendously. And quite frankly, I enjoy the uninterrupted 1 hour I receive of worship each week. My kids are not harmed by going to separate classes and I continue to do my job in raising their little hearts in the home. I am thankful for this set-up and it works for us and I do not believe it is sinful or wrong. If it doesn’t work for a particular family then they should worship elsewhere. The issue isn’t the church, it’s whether or not mom’s and dad’s are doing their jobs in the home and not expecting the church to do it.

    Jess in Peru (in Florida until Jan.)

  30. Melissa says:

    It’s funny that you wrote this – I wrote a post examining my own motives and purpose back in August – it was one of my first blog posts, in fact. And I came to many of the same conclusions. One thing that sticks with me regarding church and keeping our children with us, etc. is a quote I heard from a church mother once – someone whose children were grown and gone. She was talking to a younger mother who was frustrated at trying to focus on her prayers while in service and also keep her children in line and how distracted her mind was by it. The older woman said, “Sometimes, taking care of your children, loving and nurturing them, *is* your prayer.” How that resonates with me!

  31. AW says:

    I am assuming this will not be read because this post has gotten so much attention, but I will comment anyway because you don’t have nearly enough dissenting voices on this post. 🙂

    I think you make an excellent point about integrating our churches. At our church we have a Nursery, Children’s, Youth, Women’s, Men’s, and Prime Time (55+) Ministries. We segregate during worship service too by having a nursery and Children’s Church. I really started to become aware that this was a problem after I began to home school. I see how beneficial it is to have cross generational interaction. It is such a blessing to have so many seniors in our church. Their history is rich and their advice is wise. It is also a blessing to have so many babies in our church. What should be more celebrated than new life into God’s family? So in this, we agree.

    I don’t believe there is anything terrible about offering a nursery. When I had babies, I so appreciated the hour of time I was blessed with by the nursery workers. It allowed me to serve and it also allowed me to worship without distraction. Again, I agree that we segregate far too often, but I also can appreciate the need.

    However, I disagree with your advice to this mother who is feeling overwhelmed with her struggle between ministry and motherhood. I think you are right in pointing out that motherhood is her primary ministry. I just don’t agree that the way to deal with her issue is to give up everything but this.

    It is a legitimate option, just not the only one.

    First, she needs to explore more why she is so weary. Often in our day to day lives we can become separated from the One who gives us strength. She needs to be encouraged to find strength in the Lord and look for her answers there first.

    Next, she needs to deal with the guilt she is feeling for giving up the nursery ministry. If she prayerfully considered her actions before giving up her ministry responsibilities, sought wise counsel, and found truth in the Word and still felt this was the right thing to do, then there is no reason to feel guilty. However, sometimes in our weariness we just skip some of those steps to get temporary relief. Sometimes guilt is used to make us aware of sin; sometimes it is used by the Enemy to misdirect us. From the excerpt you gave us, I am not convinced it is one or the other.

    Second, instead of giving up all ministries outside the home, how about combining the two by serving together as a family? In our nursery we often allow the whole family to serve. Mom, dad, and children are welcome to help out. There are also other opportunities to serve side by side with our children. We have a food pantry, Angel Food Ministry, and other outreach opportunities where the whole family can serve together. As families, mothers and fathers, it is our responsibility to search out these opportunities. We can’t rely on the church to raise our children for us (another point we agree on). Her and her husband should discuss this.

    Finally, many of your readers commented on the fact that it was sad that she had to search you out to get answer to this dilemma other than people in her own church. I say it is sad that she didn’t mention once what her husband thought of this situation. He should be the first stop on the wise counsel list.

    At this point in time we are seeing church attendance shrinking at alarming rates. As you pointed out, so few serve and those who do serve carry a heavy burden. The last thing I think we would want to do is turn people, any people, away from service. Like you also pointed out, sometimes we can create a problem through our solutions instead of offering true healing.

    Respectfuly Yours,
    AW

    • Debbie says:

      Well, long as this thread is, it was worth reading your well-thought response. I am glad to hear your balanced opinion, and your counsel is sound.

  32. […] Being a Wife and Mother is Enough @ Generation Cedar had some interesting thoughts and a reassurance that our family is our ministry. That’s not to say that we can’t be involved in other things but we also can rejoice in “just” fulfilling our roles as wife and mother, especially in the days with littles. Share and Enjoy: Tags: Interesting Links This post is under “Links” and has no comments so far. If you enjoy this article, make sure you subscribe to my RSS Feed. […]

  33. Marie H. says:

    Kelly, I am a non-practicing Catholic…indeed, I am a non-practicing Christian; probably bordering on agnostic. So you might wonder why I would even chime in. Let me just say, you gave her excellent advice. She has plenty to offer now outside of “formal” duties. If she has a friend or knows of someone who is hurting, she can always bake something or watch children…it will be a tremendous blessing to the recipient. This past May my brother died and it has left us all devastated…last week,his oldest son, 24, also died. How my sister in law is still functioning, I don’t know. I barely even have any tears left. But I do know that the generosity of friends, family, co-workers, and people even further removed has been such a blessing. We had food in a church facility following the funeral and people–total strangers– served our family in our greatest time of need. When this overwhelmed woman who wrote you is older(and her kids too) she will have more time to “give back” and be on, say, the bereavement group who serves during funerals. My neighbor just stopped over a short time ago with a box of donuts for my kids. She knows she can’t bring back my brother or nephew, she knows the pain we are going through…but even a simple gift of donuts and a card are better than just sitting at home “feeling bad.” We are all so responsible for each other…but that means different things at different times. I am sorry if I rambled; I am still a bit overwhelmed and lacking focus.

    p.s.
    most Catholic churches do not have nurseries…and many Catholic families have had, at least in the past, large families. Somehow everyone made it through the Mass… I don’t see nurseries as necessary.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Marie,

      I am so very sorry for the pain and darkness you have been given to walk through…it is beautiful the way you have been ministered to, and you are right….”WE NEED EACH OTHER”. That is the way the Body of Christ operates. Think, as others reach out to you, of the literal hands and feet of Jesus…I pray you find Him; He can bring a peace that passes all understanding.

  34. channon says:

    What an interesting debate. As a homeschooling mom, with 7 children…5 of them under 5…I know the crazy pressure that can come from all sides. We have a nursery in our church, we have not used it in the last few years. My husband is an assistant Pastor in the church. I feel like I am writing a resume here, but I am going somewhere. 🙂 We are in the minority of families who do not use the nursery, and it is not a popular decision. My youngest two stay with me. The other children on Sunday mornings and Wednesdays go to class. The reason we do not use the nursery is because of the rules. You are required to work at least 3 times a month, and if you don’t you can not use the nursery the following month, or until you make up from the previous month. (it is complicated, hence why we don’t bother). I will say that I have enjoyed having them with us.

    I think of the mother that wrote the original question. I have given up all “formal” ministry in our church for now. It is just too much. I know the frustration and sometimes loneliness our decisions can bring. She talks about feeling guilty. Just because we know what the Lord wants us to do, does not mean everyone else is on board. It always amazes me how other women in the church (the place we should be encouraging each other) are often the most critical. Most of the time our guilt comes from our “sisters” and “brothers” in the church.

    No one can do it all. There are seasons in our lives for everything. We do not get do-overs. We only get one chance to raise the children God has entrusted us with. It is a pity that no one else has stepped up to replace you in the nursery. But, let God take care of that. It is His church, He knows the need. When we as mothers stop trying to “do it all” we can let Him step in and carry our load.

    No two families are alike. The decision we make for our families have to be individual. The decisions you and your husband make should be between you and God. It doesn’t matter what all of us think.

    You will never please everyone all the time.

  35. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this article. It was timely and meaningful for me!

  36. Kara says:

    Something my mother in law once said about a family about to embark on the mission field, or was told to her before she and my father in law, my husband and his brother first left for Ghana was:

    “Your first duty is to your family and your children. When your children are a bit older, then you can assist your husband in mission work while living in the field. But your first duty is to your family and your children. You take care of them and raise them.”

    That’s stuck with me for the last couple years and it is what I’m sticking with next time we have a child. (Our only two children so far await us in Heaven. Our daughter died in the womb unexpectedly at 12-14 wks, and was born at 17 weeks. Our son died in his infancy at 4 days old from unexpected complications in birthing.)

  37. Cassie D says:

    I am saddened day in and day out. The more I learn about how we as a society continue to take away the role of parents training children up I the way they should go. God has given us these children to grow and guide. That includes teaching a child to sit still and listen to a sermon. That includes walking an infant around in the back of the church if they get a little fussy and if not consolable stepping out momentarily. God did not give the nursery workers charge over our children, He gave that to us. I think nurseries and children’s church become an easy out for parents to focus on themselves. But public worship in church should be a family growing experience. It saddens me when I think about all my children missed in learning how to be a worhipping family because we were always separated from each other in church services. They grow up thinking that in public they don’t have to be part of their family and can blow them off. They grow up thinking that big person church is stupid and boring and I don’t want anything to do with it. A crying child can be quietly disciplined out of the sanctuary and a crying infant can be soothed and quieted outside of the sanctuary but the worship service should for the most part be a family event. Children do not grow so much better in Sunday school or children’s church. They grow when they learn the same thing as the rest of the family at church then go home as a family discussing and living it together. That in itself is hard when you have three children and they are all learning something different from you and each other. The more I learn what my role as a parent is the more it breaks my heart at how prevalent we as a society turn that over to someone else.

    • Debbie says:

      Cassie, I don’t want to miss your heart in your comment, I hear your desire for the family to be strengthened, to live and learn and grow together. My comment is aimed in general at the (mis)conception of what church service is and is not. Humor me a moment while I remind you, Reader, that there are seven days each with 24 hours, every single week. Sunday services comprise somewhere around 1-3 hours of that time. Parents who are living a consistent life of prayer and seeking God’s will through His Word would most likely not be relying on church services to be the meat and potatoes of their families spiritual growth. Yes, it is food, it does work to equip us, but it is not all we “eat” all week long. That said, any claim of abdication by merely utilizing the nursery as needed or even weekly, as someone so aptly put it “each family has individual needs” is a little out of line. There is one Judge. Yet here I sit, joining in the judgement party. I will just say that not everyone is in the same place. He knows our hearts. We do well to ask him to show us His will for our lives, in each specific aspect.
      One other thing, guilt as we know it is not of God. He will allow us to feel conviction, I think there’s a distinction there and we are wise to distinguish between the two.

  38. Tabitha says:

    I hear this and I love it! I completely agree as a mother and as our churches Children’s Director! Here recently I have had a really hard time getting volunteers and I get it these are mainly Mom’s and Dad’s who are exhausted with everything else going on in their lives. So I decided to start a Family First Sunday where all of the kids stay out in the service with their families. However, it’s chaos. The parents don’t watch their kids, they are running all over the place, playing, yelling. Nobody can focus and even our Pastor is having a hard time dealing with it so it’s gotten to the point where he is asking me to try and organize it. How do I organize that or better yet should I try a more confrontational approach and speak directly to the parents about their kids?

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