One thing that I have learned since moving to Charleston last year is that one of the biggest things you learn (or should learn) being a stay-at-home mom is self-discipline over your time.
Now, I know many people would just say that you should learn time management, but I think that phrase is a little misleading for the Christian housewife. Time management is about effectively managing your time to accomplish all of your goals on a daily basis. We learn about time management from the time we enter public schools to college, and there are dozens of apps and tools to help everyone learn better time management techniques. But when I think about learning self-discipline over my time, I am thinking about how do I get done all of the things I know the Lord is looking for me to do with my time.
Basically, it’s the Lord’s goals, not my own that I am now after. I have to put my own desires aside and seek to fulfill His desires. You see, I know that I am really really good at managing my time to do everything I want to personally get done in a day. I can do it in a heartbeat. However, I am much slower in getting those things done that I know the Lord desires for me to do that I don’t necessarily want to do. I have a bunch of excuses about why they can’t get done, and I massage my conscious with the thought that “there just isn’t enough time.” Not only that, I sometimes slide down into that snare of thinking that I’ve already given up my entire life to do what God wants me to do (being at home and all, raising my child, taking care of my home). Isn’t that enough? Why do I need to worry about all this other “super spiritual” stuff that only single people and older women have time for? Why can’t I do the things that make me happy now?
Well, here are some things that I know the Lord wants me to do daily (or extremely often):
- Repent of my sins (James 4:8-10)
- Have an active prayer life
- For my own needs (John 15:7)
- For my family (1 Timothy 2:1)
- For the church (Ephesians 6:18)
- For the state, nation, and world (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
- Spend time in the Word
- Read (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Meditate on what I’ve read (Psalm 119:97-104)
- Study the things that I’ve heard at church for myself (Acts 17:11)
- Prepare my heart and time for corporate worship (Matthew 15:8) (a good article)
- Have set time for worship and devotion with my family (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
- Pursue holiness in my everyday life
- Do not resist the leading of the Holy Spirit in my sanctification journey (Philippians 2:12-13)
- Crucify my flesh (Romans 8:13)
- Put aside foolish and worthless activities (1 Peter 4:1-6)
- Abide in Christ (John 15:1-8)
- Walk in love with others
- Love my husband (Titus 2:4)
- Love my child(ren) (Proverbs 13:24)
- Bear the burdens of the weak (Galatians 6:1-5)
- Exercise patience with others (Ephesians 4:1-3)
- Not being easily offended (Proverbs 19:11)
- Not being easily angered (James 1:19)
- Exercising kindness (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Speaking the truth to others (Ephesians 4:15)
- Forgiving others (Mark 11:25)
- Seeking forgiveness when I’ve wronged or offended someone (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Not engaging in gossip, backbiting, or slander (Proverbs 6:16-19)
- Working to practically help those in need (James 2:14-17)
- Complete my daily work with all diligence
- Not grumbling or complaining about things (Philippians 2:14)
- Properly managing my home (Proverbs 31:10-27)
- Seeking to honor the Lord in all my activities (Colossians 3:17, 23-24)
- Pursue fellowship with other believers
- Being actively involved at church (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Inviting others into my home and life (hospitality) (1 Peter 4:9)
- Asking others to hold you accountable for things (James 5:16)
- Being willing to hold others accountable (Galatians 6:1-5)
- Openly sharing the gospel with unbelievers (Matthew 28:19-20)
Now, I know I’m missing some things from this list, but this is a basic list of stuff that I know I ought to be working on each day. And to be honest, a lot of these things take some time and considerable effort to be done properly. I have one child at this moment, but I still have to plan time to spend in the Word. I also have to plan time to really pray for others, and even to repent of my own sins. (I find that it’s really easy to whisper prayers to the Lord for my own particular needs throughout the day, but I am far less likely to do that for others.)
I also have to be conscious of the pokes and prodding of the Spirit when I’m being a little lazy on the stuff that I already know is good and proper for me to do like not giving into anger and frustration with my daughter and husband, not grumbling and complaining, not seeking to live a cushy and isolated Christian life outside of the needed fellowship of others. It all takes time, lots of time, and I definitely don’t write from the position of having mastered all of this. But I do try to make sure that my days are oriented around what is most needful and beneficial for me, those things that God has commanded of us. I know some people that stay-at-home moms have it easy, but that self-discipline is not a joke, and it does not come easily. There are tons of distractions like staying online all day, watching TV, giving into general laziness, operating on autopilot with your children and husband, or even sinking into a spiritual stupor or lethargy because of a failure to dig deeper and challenge ourselves in the Word. But even with all of those distractions, God is faithful to keep us and grow us up in Him.
So I hope that this serves as a good reminder for any housewife to look over your daily schedule and reflect on how you are spending your days. Managing your time is good, but being disciplined in what you spend your time on (whether it merely pleases you or if you are intentionally looking to please the Lord) will serve you best and glorify the Lord. Ephesians 5:15-17 says:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
That is what we need to do these days: exercise wisdom, understand what the Lord’s will is for us, and walk it out. And if you find yourself falling short some days (as I do), I pray that you remain encouraged and keep on pressing in your Christian walk. My husband reminds me constantly that the Lord employed many agricultural analogies for this reason: The Christian life is long, hard, steady and sometimes painful growth. You don’t always see things growing, but you keep on working to that end, knowing you will reap in due time.