Tuesday 18 March 2014

I don't like being a servant

Maybe I didn't realise, at the time, but one of the things I rather liked about being a physician was leading a group of doctors, making an assessment, teaching, having others follow parts of the action plan and write down my instructions. At home, I had a cleaner and childcare. I didn't have to clean the toilets, tidy the toys or sweep the entrance hall. I was treated with respect and my opinion valued.

I chose to change all that and I don't regret being at home; teaching the children, seeing them learn and not having the stresses of needing sudden childcare cover just because a child had a vaguely sticky eye. Still, there are parts that I don't enjoy. Recently, there seems to have been more of the menial.  It is easy to feel like "just a servant". OK, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, carer, educator not just the servant but it can feel like that. 

Caring work, particularly, can seem undervalued. It would seem better to be teaching Sunday School than be around home to make sure an elderly person doesn't fall and gets a cup of tea. It sounds better to admit to being a physician than a mother at home or even less interesting, someone caring for an elderly relative.

Should I mind? In many ways, minding is just pride. Sinful, selfish pride. Why shouldn't I clean the toilets, arrange appointments, sweep the halls? This is honourable work. 

I was struck by the verses 
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2 v 5-7

The Lord Jesus gave up far, far more. What does my reputation as a minor physician matter? He left the courts of heaven. He washed feet that were doubtless hot, dirty and sweaty. Why should I complain. He has given me these tasks for now-I deserve much worse. He didn't deserve to leave Heaven but chose to do so. He endured far, infinitely far more than I have to face and for my sake and all of His other people. I shouldn't complain.

How bitter that cup,
No heart can conceive,
Which he drank right up,
That sinners might live;
His way was much rougher
And darker than mine;
Did Jesus thus suffer,
And shall I repine?
John Newton

This is linked to Growing Home.

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  1. You just hang in there, Sarah Elisabeth! You're doing what God has called you to do, so be strong and courageous and do just that.

    Yes, it can be difficult to give up careers to become 'servants' but, really, it is a blessing. I was just thinking, lying awake in bed last night, how giving up my academic career 18 years ago was like cutting off a hand that caused me to sin. It was the right thing to do because it was getting my priorities all wrong, but I would not have been able to quit it if it hadn't been for the children.

    Next week I'm giving my first academic lecture (guest lecture about the history of science at a Christian college) after all these years--not quite in my field--and I realized that by taking so much time away and getting my priorities more in line with God's, I have insights about the nature of science that few other scientists seem to.

    Also, even after all these years I'm still being told there are openings waiting for me...and I'm still turning them down because I have children learning at home.

    I don't know what else God has in store for me, but I do know that he is preparing me for it. You can be confident of the same. So just keep on doing your daily duties, whatever they are, and may God bless you.

    By the way, it is always inspiring to read stories of other highly educated Christian mothers who have made countercultural choices. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Annie Kate! That is encouraging.

      Yes, there is so much blessing in being at home and I'm sure that it is the right thing to do. God is teaching me lessons in not having the status of a professional. I'm sure that I enjoyed that too much. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks but that we should do the Lord's will. Yes, He has a plan and that is an encouragement in the daily round.

    2. "Status...enjoyed that too much" Sarah, your posts hits close to home. It hasn't quite been a year that I have not worked outside our home, and it still seems to be a constant adjustment, even to not worrying about what others think. It is such a complete turn around from working and feeling entitled to spend what I wanted to actually depending on my husband and on God to provide for us. I will remember this next time I find myself complaining about honorable work. Thank you for sharing this.

    3. Jennifer, I know what you mean about the depending on your husband and God to provide. All the while, there is another income there is a sort of reliance on that. I do think that the first part of readjustment is most difficult.

  2. I know how you feel, Sarah! It takes quite a change of mindset (both from ourselves and from our immediate social circle) to accept that a mother who choose to stay at home to care for her family (young children and elderly relatives) is as worthy of respect as one who is in a high-powered job. This is speaking from my own experience of choosing to give up a six-figure, globe-trotting job with a very fancy title to having to introduce myself as a "housewife" nowadays.... :-) I certainly felt more in-charged and powerful at managing a multi-million pound portfolio and at managing my nine-year-old!

    While not trying to induce any sense of guilt onto you, I think it's important to look at the topic of "pride" and to assess whether our understanding of our self identity through various externalities (e.g. job titles, other people's value judgement, or what everyone else perceive to be important) is aligned with our true self. Once you've made that assessment, you'll be able to be more at peace with your decision and less resentment about the situation that you find yourself in.

    Being of service to those closest to us is just as important as, if not more than, being of service to thousands of strangers. :-)

    1. Thank you, Hwee. I know what you mean about feeling more in charge managing a responsibly job than a nine year old or five year old, for that matter!

      I couldn't agree more about the importance of being of service to those close to us.

  3. Dear Sarah,
    Thank you for your honest post. It is an encouragement to younger women like me to see the choices you make, despite it being a great cost to you, and your commitment and perseverance. May God bless you. He counts as things of great importance, 'feeding the fatherless and the widows'.
    Rachel x

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your honesty. I struggle at times thinking I could be doing so much more but I need to remember what God has called me to do at this time and that is what is important. Praying that you will be refreshed and ready for tomorrow.

    1. Beth, yes, it is remembering to do what God has called us to even if parts of that aren't quite as we would have chosen. He knows what is best for us.

  5. Great post - Thanks for sharing and being transparent!

  6. Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for your honest post. Perhaps having left medicine as an SHO, I was more used to servitude or at least a lot of running around :) I left medicine after having our first child and being born again of the Holy Spirit and so the Lord showed me in many ways how He was freeing me to be a woman who serves Him, my husband and my family. My husband also left employed work to serve the Lord and set up a business a few weeks before our daughter was born. I have battled, and am still battling in some ways selfishness and self-pity but Jesus always gives us encouragement in so many ways. You have received a high calling and deliverance from working in a system with much blood on its hands - you have other sisters in Christ who have gone ahead, picked up their cross, denied self and brought forth wonderful fruit.



    - may this be your portion in Jesus' mighty name

    Your sister in Christ


    1. Thank you, Renee. I've had a quick look at the link which looks really interesting. I look forward to reading the whole.