By Lindsey Wingo
What does it look like to live a life on mission? Simply put, it is living in light of the two greatest commandments in scripture—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
I recently stumbled upon an article put out by CNBC from the perspective of a mother who raised three successful daughters—two CEOs and one doctor.
When asked about her parenting secret, her answer was simple—teaching kindness and service. Though she was writing from a secular point of view, the truths she shared lined up with God-ordained truth.
“Kids are growing up feeling like they’re the center of the universe…as a result, they often end up isolated and depressed. I’ve met lots of unhappy millionaires and even some unhappy billionaires. A lot of them probably started out as directionless kids…We’re chasing money and possessions. Not service, not purpose. If we have a purpose at all, it’s to make ourselves happy. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: You’re happiest — as well as most beneficial to society — when you’re doing things to help others.” – Esther Wojcicki on CNBC.com
How do we teach our children to live their lives on mission for God and in service of others? I believe the number one way we can do that is to model it ourselves and take them along with us. We must each ask ourselves, “In what ways am I living life on mission for God and others? How can I begin to make that more of a priority?”
How do we teach our children to live their lives on mission for God and in service of others? I believe the number one way we can do that is to model it ourselves and take them along with us.
As a mother of three young children with one on the way, sometimes my ideas of what missional living looks like seem daunting in this phase of parenting. For instance, our Life Group at church recently volunteered at a local food bank, giving out meals to families in need during the holidays. My husband, our oldest daughter, and myself tag-teamed the volunteer responsibilities while also wrangling our two younger children who were running around and hiding among the boxes of canned goods. I even found my toddler rummaging through Oreo boxes that had been broken into by some mice!
I could have easily gotten discouraged about my inability to be completely engaged in the mission that day, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that even though it didn’t look like the perfect picture of public service I had imagined, my children were being exposed to very real needs in our own community and they were experiencing something with their family that, over time, would plant seeds and make a long-term impact.
Recently, I was struck by the awareness my children have of the homeless epidemic in our area. I am ashamed to say I have been far too quick to pass by the large number of men and women we see every time we go to the grocery store or run through the Chick-fil-A drive through. I am quick to assume these people’s situations rather than being willing to see past the stereotypes and see them as image bearers of God. My girls, ages 6 and 8, have been determined to do something to help them. After praying about what that might look like, I began to do some research about the homeless statistics in our city, local shelters and missions already working to give aid, as well as how to practically meet the needs of the ones I typically pass by without a glance. In my research, I found some surprising statistics, including the fact that 26 percent of the homeless in our area are children, 32 percent of the adults suffer with a serious mental illness, only 13 percent suffer with a substance abuse disorder, and 12 percent are fleeing from domestic violence. Talk about a reality check! I had wrongly assumed all of these people were hooked on drugs and could not be trusted. The fact is, they all need Jesus.
In light of this realization, my kids and I are putting together care packages to keep in the back of our van. We plan to include things like granola bars and water bottles, dental floss and gum, hats and gloves in the winter, and business cards or information pamphlets about the shelters and non-profits in our area that could offer them even more help. In certain more high traffic areas, we can even pull over and offer to pray with them. Yes, my first reaction is a concern for our safety. But, if the Holy Spirit prompts us to stop and pray rather than simply stick the package out the window and drive off, we are willing to do it. You never know when God might orchestrate a divine encounter.
It is my desire to raise children who know where to find their true identity and pursue God’s mission for them each day, in each season of their lives. I am much more concerned about modeling and teaching those truths than I am raising children who make a lot of money or pursue self-focused, human-sized dreams.
Lindsey Wingo is the founder and editor of the Missional Motherhood blog. She is the wife of Worship Pastor, Ryan Wingo, and stay-at-home mother of three sweet kiddos—Ivey, Ruthie, and Charlie. It is her prayer and vision that Missional Motherhood would unite mothers from around the globe with the common purpose of raising up a mighty generation of Christ-followers in an increasingly dark world. Lindsey loves to connect with other women and to study and teach God’s Word. She also enjoys coffee and chocolate (YUM), sewing, game nights with her family, days on the lake or at the beach, and her current idea of the perfect date night is cuddling in the bed with her hubby while watching one of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover DVDs! (That is, if a night at the Cinebistro is out of the question…) She is an imperfect mother who has to continually remind herself of the hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.