I’ve heard it said many times before, in an honorable effort to validate a mom’s choice to stay at home or to home school, “What you’re doing is very important. After all, you may be raising the next president.”
Or maybe they say the next astronaut, or the next Billy Graham, or Mother Teresa. Either way, the implication is that what you are doing is important because you might raise someone who has a global impact. The encouragement is well intended but misguided.
The first fallacy I see in this line of reasoning is that it puts the focus on the end result. It says that the validity of staying home with my children is in question until they grow up and become something. Then, if that something is valued by our society, I have done something important.
Recently a friend and I were talking about how sometimes we can lose our focus. We start looking at our children for who they might become, instead of who they are. The truth is, we need to love them in this moment and nurture the person that they are right now. And that alone is important.
If you look at the statement closely and follow it to its end you’ll see the second fallacy. The underlying suggestion is that raising children is only important if you raise important children, children who do something big and far reaching as an adult. Oh, what a huge mistake, to buy into the idea that it’s the prestigious career or the prominent ministry that makes our children important!
What if my son is not the next Billy Graham or Max Lucado? What if I “only” raise a son who loves his wife and children and provides for them willingly and sufficiently? What if his “greatest accomplishment” is that of becoming a faithful leader in his church — whether quietly or publicly, depending on his individual design — and being loyal to his country and his God? Will I have wasted my time? Will it then become untrue that what I was doing was a very worthy thing?
What if my daughter is confident and faithful but never writes a best-selling Bible study? What if she never finds a cure for cancer, but she does love her husband and children, is self-controlled and pure, is busy at home, kind, and subject to her husband (Titus 2)? Have I wasted my time?
What if we all raised, not the next president, but the next teenager who will take a stand against drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity, and instead share the saving love of Christ? What if we all raised the next soldier who will fight for the religious freedom upon which this country was founded? What if we all raised the next mom whose passion it is to love her children, honor and help her husband, and be a light to those the Lord puts in her path?
God has not called most of us to grand and prominent things — at least, as the world defines those terms. God’s view of important and worthy has to do with who we are in Him. It involves being effective and faithful where we are, in the place of our tent, and doesn’t depend on how many people know our name or that of our great corporation or cause.
What I’m doing is important because my son and daughter are each fearfully and wonderfully made — and therefore important. I am the person who will have the single most profound influence on a whole, real person. And these whole, real persons need a whole, real mother. Right now. For who they are.