Women's Work

I enjoy watching the show on the Discovery Channel called “Dirty Jobs.” Whenever I think my job is nasty, it’s good to know that it could be much worse! On one show, the narrator asked a man who cleaned out septic tanks for a living why he went into this line of work.

He replied, “I used to be a professional counselor, but I got tired of shoveling other people’s ______!”

God trains all His powerful servants on “dirty jobs.” Both Moses and David were shepherds. Elisha was a farmer. Joseph was a slave. Peter, James and John were fishermen. Matthew worked for the IRS.

Maybe it’s a clue to how God regards real ministry: an often thankless, underpaid, sweaty, never-ending and completely humiliating dirty job! The word ministry implies servant hood, and the Apostle Paul thought he was a “bondservant” of Christ, ready to go anywhere and do the dirty work without honor or notoriety, if necessary, so that God’s Kingdom could spread. Jesus thought He was not here to be served but to serve, to give His life as a ransom for us, and He told us to do it like He did it, without whining.

Motherhood is another dirty job that only starts with nine months of nauseating pregnancy followed by hours of inexcusable pain while you wait for that screaming someone who resembles Winston Churchill to decide it wants to slither out into the light. Then come years of cleaning bathrooms, changing diapers, scraping food off dirty dishes, waking up in the middle of the night to wipe runny noses. Then the kids grow up and leave. They won’t understand the love behind the sacrifice until they do it for their kids.

The chores of motherhood are excellent training exercises for the ministry. For ex- ample, preparing dinner is like serving up the word of God. You just “cook something up.” Look in the cupboard, pull out what’s there, mix it all together, add a few spices and heat it up. Forget the pre-pared stuff; my family is partial to real food and lots of it! I’m so familiar with cooking, I could do it in my sleep, and I’ve become an expert at making something out of little or nothing. I spend a large part of every day meditating about what I’m going to serve for dinner and what I should preach about, too.

Consoling the hurting heart is just like drying the tears of a child and rocking a baby to sleep. I like being an ambassador for the Divine Kissy Monster, seeking out the child in people, pinching little fat cheeks and telling folks everything is going to be all right because Daddy loves them.

Just like our septic tank cleaner on “Dirty Jobs,” counseling the sheep with their problems is like changing dirty diapers, helping them clean up and receive forgiveness after their “accidents.” It’s probably my least favorite job, but if you are going to enjoy the fun parts of mothering, you just do it.

Then there are times when you have to discipline the little things. Mothering is putting yourself aside when you are so tired you can’t stand up so that you can focus instead on what’s best for the hubby and kids--what Jesus wants, not what I want. It’s like being the last one to leave the sanctuary after the service so you can make sure the lights are out and then going home to get everyone to bed and the house in order so things will be less chaotic tomorrow.

Motherhood is like being a pastor, only without the title and the business card. So I don’t really understand why it is such a stretch for folks to envision a woman as a pastor, unless they don’t really think that ministry is servant hood.

Originally Published April/May 2007 Editor Melinda Fish