Today is Friday, August 17th, and while I’m recovering from an annoying case of vertigo, I have been reflecting on a decision my wife and I made about a month ago. This afternoon my wife, Susan, will come home from her first week of teaching 2nd grade at a nearby school, the first job she has had outside the home in 17 years. She is tired and yet she is excited about how the Lord is using her.
Not that she hasn’t been working. For the last 17 years she has had the hardest job anyone could have, managing our home. She has cooked thousands of meals, pushed grocery carts for thousands of miles, wiped noses (and other unmentionable areas of our childrens’ bodies) thousands of times, and picked up a thousand pairs of socks and underwear from the floor. She has homeschooled all of our four sons at one time or another (none of whom are still in homeschool at present), and managed to transform a houseful of smelly, messy, testosterone-laden boys (present company included) into a home where the grace of God rests. Oh yes, she has worked.
But this is the first time in 17 years she has worked outside the home. We consider that to be a gracious blessing to our family. Not everyone is able to have mom stay at home, but God has been gracious to make this desire a reality for our family. He certainly required that we make sacrifices to make it work (financially and otherwise), but we don’t for a moment believe that living off of a pastor’s salary in a middle-class suburban context with 4 boys was our doing…no, it was our Sovereign God who made it work, and to Him we are so very grateful for this blessing.
But why the change? Why now, after all these years is Susan jumping back into the workplace? Great question! For us, we always considered this to be part of the plan. We knew that unless the Lord provided in some other way, Susan would need to get a job at some point in order for us to afford the looming expenses of sending four sons to college (which will begin for us in less than a year). That provision had not come by the beginning of summer, and so we decided it was time to go ahead and start preparing for her to re-enter the workplace, and I am so proud of what she accomplished in taking courses and getting her Georgia teaching certificate re-certified. Then, the arduous task of applying for jobs and interviewing. As God would have it, a precious family friend notified us of a 2nd Grade teaching position at a school 7 minutes from our house. Susan applied, had 2 interviews in a week, and received an offer the following week. It all happened so fast, we found ourselves discussing whether or not to accept the offer before we really had an opportunity to pray about whether she should go back to work at all. We just assumed that was what she was supposed to do. After all, how else were we going to afford college?
That’s when the Lord urged both Susan and I to pause and pray. The salary offered to Susan was such that it required us to seek the Lord’s wisdom. Any lower and we would have been tempted to just decline the offer….after all, her working outside the home was going to have a major impact on our family and it needed to be financially “worth it”. Conversely, if the offer had been any higher, we would have been tempted to just go ahead and accept it, seeing the higher salary as a “sign from God”. Instead, the Lord was gracious to make the offer such that we really were forced to bring it to Him for discernment. So, we brought the decision to the Lord, and He impressed upon both of us that we were looking at this decision from a “financial” perspective, instead of from a “missional” perspective. This wasn’t a financial decision as much as it was a decision about what God wanted Susan to do with her life…in essence, what was His mission for her?
The real question the Lord caused us to wrestle with was, “Was God calling Susan to be a teacher?”. If He wasn’t, then no amount of money would be worth her being outside of the will of God. If He was, then no amount of money should stand in the way of her doing what the Lord was asking of her. Boy, did that take the pressure off! We simply needed to know what our Father’s mission was for Susan, and then trust Him with the financially aspect of how it would happen. Once that became “the decision”, it was a fairly easy decision. Susan’s heart has always been to teach children. It’s what the Lord placed on her heart as a young girl, whether it be teaching our own kids in homeschool, teaching children at our church, or teaching in a traditional classroom, the Lord has created her to teach for His glory. Once we were settled on her mission, the financial aspect of the decision became much easier. Who were we to decline an opportunity to be engaged in what the Lord made her to do, just because it wasn’t going to completely satisfy all of our financial “wants”? The Lord has always perfectly provided for us, as He has promised to do. Were we now going to trust Him in this, or not? We’ve discovered that after the Lord gives clarity to a decision and makes it more about whether we’re going to trust Him or not, the decisions get easier to make. Ofcourse we would trust Him.
Now, I will readily admit that this has been an adjustment to our family’s life. We have all needed to pitch-in and be more helpful around the house, but that has been a good thing. The boys are learning more responsibility, and we are all looking at this as if our whole family is involved in the mission that the Lord has given to Susan. And I think that’s pretty cool.
Let me encourage you not to make decisions like this based on the resources available to you, whether it’s time, money, or talents. Instead, make it a decision based on mission. Is the Lord asking you to do this…..or not? And after He answers that question, then all you’ve got to do is trust Him.