There is a popular myth in women’s church groups that the goal of our Christian faith is to have Quiet Time with God every day. Every day is the gold standard to strive for, but even if you can just get a few times a week you are better off than not doing it at all. Ideally, it’s best done first thing in the morning before the day gets going and a thousand things interrupt you. Or perhaps last thing at night for those night owls who just don’t get going early. At any rate, it is supposed to be set aside from everything else and held sacred. We all agree that we should “seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6) BUT when you are a mother of young children that feels impossible.
Sitting in study and quiet time feels to me like a privilege. One to be enjoyed after the chores are done and the responsibilities are taken care of. One to savor with a cup of coffee and the exact right color pens. A moment that presents an Instagram-worthy photo. Which just means that I never have time and it’s never going to happen.
As a mother, responsibilities are never fully taken care of and the chores need to be REdone as quickly as they are done, so the privilege of sitting down to study is constantly put off. Even if I get up early in the morning there is typically a sink full of dishes to deal with from the night before because the dishwasher was full. Or my kids hear me get up and decide to get up, too. In the evening, by the time the house is quiet and responsibilities can be comfortably pushed off until tomorrow, I am so tired that seeking feels beyond my capability. By that point, I just want to zone out rather than zone in on abstract spiritual ideas.
So how do we, as mothers, overcome the obstacle of the children God has blessed us with? We shift our mindset and stop feeling guilty about our time with the Lord not being quiet. We put the proper value on what we are being asked to do. Value. That’s an interesting concept worth exploring. How much do you value getting to know God and making sure your kids know him, too?
Right now, in my brick and mortar business, I am working on building a management team. Since I am not part of the daily operations of the business, my focus is on helping our two key employees to see their value to the company beyond the numbers. When they were doing sales or fixing cars it was easy for them to watch the numbers and see their success/value. It was easy for them to look at their paycheck and see a direct reflection of their value to the company – increase personal production, increase the paycheck. In a management role, however, their worth becomes a little harder to see and their value not so easy to measure. They no longer have a tangible checklist of items to accomplish before clocking out at the end of the day. Like mothers, their value is not in what they accomplish by themselves. Their success is now rated by what they inspire and lead others to do. It is no longer about fixing a car by himself but about enabling/ empowering 3 people to fix 4 cars. One times one is only one but 1×3=3 and that equation increases his value to the company significantly.
Wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be talking about seeking the Lord and Bible study and how to have a better quiet time?
Yes. Yes, we are. Here is the tie in: We typically look at Bible Study as “personal quiet time” or “time alone with the Lord” or “going up to the throne” or “prayer and reflection.” We measure our spiritual accomplishment in terms of minutes spent or pages/verses/chapters read or studies completed. Like my manager who is used to measuring his value in cars fixed, mothers tend to measure their value in chores completed, responsibilities handled, skinned knees bandaged, practices attended, games watched, bedtime stories read, healthy meals provided, church services attended, loads of laundry done (or a least washed and dried and dumped on the couch/chair/spare bed). Like my employee, we struggle to see the VALUE in our management and leadership skills.
So I’m going to tell you what I’ve told myself and what I am telling my management team: turn your old way of thinking upside down. Rather than thinking of Bible study as “quiet time” or “private prayer and reflection” think of it as an important component of mothering your child and as something you do together. Your children need to see you spending time with God and reading the Word just as much as they need to get to gymnastics or get their homework done.
Time spent seeking the Lord doesn’t have to look like a pretty journal and the right color highlighters. And it doesn’t need to be quiet. As the manager of your children and the spiritual leader of your offspring, the VALUE of your time spent in study is not based on how much you personally accomplish. The VALUE is in doing it at all. No matter what it looks like or how you feel about it or how much time you spent without being interrupted.
Change your perception of what your own value is to your children and measure your spiritual worth differently than you did before. It is no longer about what you accomplish. It is about what God accomplishes through you. It is not about how much you got done. It is about exposing yourself and your children to the Word.
For as the rain and the snow fall from heaven and do not return to it without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.Isaiah 55:10-11
Give yourself to the Word and trust that God will accomplish what he pleases, in you and in your children. He compares his Word to rain and snow that saturate the earth – sometimes that is a gentle rain and a pretty snow, but sometimes it is a hurricane or a blizzard. Sometimes Bible study is quiet time, but sometimes it is loud and chaotic. In both cases, the earth is saturated and God’s will is accomplished.
Bible study in early motherhood is often more like a tornado than a Hallmark movie snow storm. It is not a privilege to be quietly enjoyed when all the stars align and the children are perfectly behaved (i.e. sleeping or on electronics). Bible study is a spiritual battle filled with greater worth than anything else on your to-do list.
So take out your Bible, plop it down on the table amidst cereal bowls and crumbs, and start reading the stories out loud to your children – even if they are too young to understand or too cool to care. Put the VALUE in reading the Word and let God accomplish the rest.
Not sure where to start reading? Here are a few suggestions
- The Psalms – songs of praise
- The Gospels – first four books of the New Testament which tell about the life of Jesus Christ. You can start with Matthew or Mark or Luke or John
- Genesis – begin at The Beginning
- Exodus – stories about God’s provision for the Israelites as they left slavery in Egypt
- Judges – tells of the time when the Israelites entered the Promised Land and didn’t have a king. Perfect for kids who are into war stories or violent video games
- Acts – right after the Gospels, this book tells about the early church after Christ’s resurrection