Welcome, sweet friends, and thank you for spending a few minutes to check out my 2017 Write 31 Days series: Redemptive Motherhood. I hope this glimpse into my motherhood journey makes you laugh and cry (the good kind of tears). I hope to surprise and delight you with the stories of these tender years, and I hope that if something you find here sparks a question or makes you curious about some part of my journey, that you will send me a personal note to connect. Thanks for reading.
I look at disheveled spaces within my house and feel instantly (and repeatedly) overwhelmed. The jobs are mine, but I don’t want to do them. A surge of resistance wells up, followed by a momentary feeling of panic that I might not be able to beat the mess. For me, clutter feels like an actual monster that swallows my willpower in one gulp. I’ve never been especially good at keeping things tidy, which I blame on the fact that I seem to be missing the natural ability to put physical things in order. Nearly all of my energy pours into kids and creative spaces instead. It is energy well-used, but for certain, at the expense of a peaceful, well-ordered home.
Some people seem to have a knack for it. They have no emotional response to tidying keeping them from whipping items from one location to a more appropriate space. Without even thinking, they clear down a mess with methodical intention and astounding efficiency. My oldest son is one of these people. Every day I find him in a new corner of the house, intent on setting order to a small space thriving on the satisfaction of a job done well. The child is a gift to me; a rescue even. Without his help, I would be drowning even more than I already am.
He’s not a flawless person, by any stretch, but he is a servant, and I’ve learned many things from him about serving well. He is able to do work that needs to be done (with only minimal whining about the fact that no one else in the house can match his efficiency and focus). He is not deterred by challenges, not derailed by other pursuits, and not one to let others get out of their responsibilities without speaking up about it. He’s a leader in training.
He does have personality traits that clash with mine sometimes, but most often that clash results in sharpening for both of us. I see good in it.
Some observations I’ve made and stored away in my mama-heart about leadership and service while watching him work:
Leadership is important, but service is the lynchpin of influence. Leaders who do not serve, and only spout orders do not command the same respect as leaders who join in a task and encourage along the way. Leaders who act like they are too good to do a job (and I’m even talking about parents here) miss the opportunity to bolster their own authority in the eyes of their constituents. When you get in the game as a servant, you gain a level of influence that is not otherwise available. It builds trust, grows confidence, strengthens bonds and forges respect.
Servant leaders put their energy into work done well alongside others instead of wasting energy on trying to look good (or trying to comparatively look better than others).
And finally, I’ve been pondering the distinction between helping and serving. They may seem like the same thing, but I assure you, they are different.
The satisfaction in helping hinges on the response of the person you’ve helped. Just think, if you help someone and they criticize something about what you’ve done, it most often sticks in a resentful space of the heart.
However, if you’re serving someone, which in-action might look exactly the same as helping, except it doesn’t come with the same strings. You offer yourself without expectation of what you might get out of it (even that satisfying feeling of helping), and you are also free of the burden to manage how the other party feels about you. Serving is about selflessness and honoring those who you serve without expecting something in return.
As I think about how this applies to my life as a mom, and while I could explore this idea for hours, at the bottom line, I think it helps me to see myself as a servant and embrace the reality that I am not too good for the humble tasks of my home. It is my honor to sacrifice and serve these little ones around me, and I need not waste my energy worrying about achieving an A+ for my housekeeping, only that I faithfully keep at doing what I can to make our house a home. I still do the jobs, and I still struggle through them, but with a helper and a few good tunes to liven the mood, there isn’t much that can keep me from showing my kids the way to servant leadership–by example.
1421. successful escape from the sugar monster + new (healthier) cravings, 1422. slippers from christmas, 1423. my new self-care corner, 1424. seating for all in our living room, 1425. successful series on KM, 1426. some earlier bedtimes and early productive mornings, 1427. sweet exchanges with my love, 1428. positive visit to a new church, 1429. grieving seasons as they change, 1430. new nail polish (thanks natalie)