I read a blog not long ago that suggested I teach my young daughters that the pinnacle of their womanhood would be found in marriage and childbearing. The writer implied that motherhood was truly the singular calling of biblical womanhood. Surely, you’ve heard this or read it before as well, because I’ve encountered that message countless times over the years.
Maybe you have no problem with that concept and prescribe to it with joy, but can I be honest with you? I was saddened and frustrated to read that unmovable opinion. Where is the hope for the childless? What about the single girl? Are we to accept that they’re living an unfulfilled life? Or that they’re less than within the church or God’s kingdom?
I’m both a wife and a mother and both are a deep joy and gift in my life. I don’t discount the beauty that God created in his gift of motherhood to women—I adore my children and mothering them is nourishing to me. I cherish my marriage and am better because of it. The Lord has used these areas of my life to bless, sanctify, and delight me. But I would be a fool, and a poor student of the Word if I thought it was my singular calling in life or even the exclusive way in which God sanctifies me.
I recently confided in a friend that I’m sometimes still surprised by marriage and children. That wasn’t my plan for my life. With degrees in Bible and women’s ministry in my back pocket, I was prepared to take on a life of vocational ministry. I knew I was called to it. And then I met my husband, and just over a year later I was married. Ten months after that I found myself sick and bedridden with my first child. I felt lost for a time, unmoored by a loss of direction and what I perceived to be my specific calling. It wasn’t until I sought the Word for comfort and purpose that I found my rest in the truth and calling that God has for his children.
What are you called to? What is your chief purpose? I remember googling “what is my calling as a Christian”. Listen, I know…but I was desperate! After scrolling through all sorts of opinions, I found an excerpt from a sermon about Leviticus 19 and the calling of holiness.
Leviticus 19 truly captures the heart of the book, but verses 1-2 could serve as the thesis statement: “The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the whole congregation of the Israelites and tell them, ‘You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”
Leviticus became one of my favorite books in that season. Do you want to know your calling? The entire basis of the book of Leviticus is to instruct Israel on living holy, and the reason? Because their God—our God, THE God—is holy and we’re to image him. But that message didn’t die with the office of Levitical priest, Peter picks up the instruction toward this calling in 1 Peter 1:15-16. He stresses that we must wear holiness in all we do, just as God himself commanded, quoting Leviticus. As followers of Christ under the New Covenant, we’re still called chiefly to image our Lord in holiness. This means that HOW we carry ourselves in our roles and responsibilities is more important than exactly WHAT they are.
Do you feel personally called to motherhood? Good! Do this work in holiness—honoring the Lord in all the ways you nurture and nourish your children. Do you feel personally called to marriage? Has God opened this door for you? Wonderful! Live in unity and holiness with your spouse—cherishing your marriage in all faithfulness and purity.
But what if the Lord has granted you childlessness? Sister, set to the work he has given you in all holiness—trust him as Sustainer, Friend, and compassionate Counselor. Seek to nurture those around you faithfully, with a pure heart, and in righteousness. Has the Lord allotted singleness for you? Live in holy devotion to the Lord—faithfully walking in the opportunities he has granted, faithfully clinging to him as your Protector, Provider, and Beloved.
The Call of Every Believer
I’m from a large family and as the only girl have spent my life too often proving that I can do what the boys can do. This has allowed me the opportunity to learn many things, it’s also provided me with plentiful opportunity to learn humility. But the beauty of our faith is that our chief calling as disciples of Christ has absolutely nothing to do with gender. Christ’s final words to his disciples are found in Matthew 28:19-20: “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Christ’s final words to his disciples were words to mobilize the gospel! We don’t know who all was present for this exact charge, but it is historically recognized as the commissioning of all God’s disciples. That includes you. He didn’t commission those who only felt called and equipped for gospel deliverance. He called his disciples to share the Good News—in a commission that mirrors his earliest mandate to Adam and Eve to reproduce and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28) he again calls his beloved children to reproduce and fill the earth. This is your calling!
Sister, if you’ve heard a message telling you that only in motherhood and marriage are you truly fulfilled or living in God’s purpose, I’m truly sorry. It’s wrong. Even if you find yourself content in marriage and/or motherhood today, that alone is not the end-all of biblical womanhood. Live in the freedom and joy of your true calling instead: walking in all holiness and generously sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
This calling for each Christian unites us in Christ with all who believe in him and are marked by the life of discipleship. This calling offers the same value to every member of the body of Christ. This calling grants us unity in the universal church as we walk out the specific details of our lives and our personal calling differently. It allows us to bring beauty, life, and Christ into every door we open and each role we fill.