We often commend mothers by saying they have, “the most important job in the world.” While I will be the first to say mothers have an incredibly important – and difficult – job, I believe we need to rethink calling it, “the most important job in the world.” While this phrase is meant to be complimentary, I believe it has several unintended consequences.
An Incredibly Important Job
Let me say again, being a mother is an incredibly important job. Particularly when done according to the will of God. Being a Christian mother means not only bringing a child into the world, but helping to bring a child into the faith.
I think often about how the apostle Paul commended the grandmother and mother of his young protégé, Timothy. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). A Christian mother helps to instill a “sincere faith” in her children and that job is so very important.
So please do not take what I’m about to say as an attempt to diminish the importance of mothers.
Comparing Ourselves to One Another
The problem with saying, “Being a mother is the most important job in the world,” is that it is a comparative statement and we almost always get ourselves in trouble when we compare ourselves to others. Consider this excellent tweet from Rachel Cruze:
Comparison not only changes our attitude, but our relationship with the people we are comparing ourselves to.
— Rachel Cruze (@RachelCruze) May 3, 2016
Comparison changes “our relationship with the people we are comparing ourselves to.” When a mother compares herself to all the people who are not mothers, it automatically changes her relationship with all of those people. In this case, she is saying she happens to do a more important job.
Within the church, we all have different jobs, but we do not have more important – or less important – jobs. Scripture says the church is a body and each member is a different part of the body. Each part has its own important job to fulfill.
How would we feel if other people said their job was the most important job in the world? “There are many parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20b).
The Father’s Job
In my experience, the person who usually says, “Being a mother is the most important job in the world,” is usually not a mother, it is a father. I’ve heard countless men praise their wives in this manner. And of course, these men are to be commended for acknowledging the hard work of their wives, but what are they saying about their own jobs?
It’s no wonder fathers have been made to feel their job is less important. Almost every family sitcom for the last 20 years has had a father who is bumbling idiot. The mother is the competent parent and the father is the comic relief. Is it any wonder then, so many men do very little to assist their wives in the role of parenting when they hear constantly that their job really isn’t that important?
Scripture paints quite a different picture. When parents are told to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” it is to the fathers that this command is specifically addressed (Ephesians 6:4). God is not ok with men taking a backseat in the parenting process. He is not ok with us politely telling our wives, “You’re the one with the important job; I would just get in your way if I tried to help.” Dads, we need to step up and realize our job is just as important as our wife’s job.
There was an interesting study done that showed if a mother “attends church regularly,” but the father does not attend at all, only “2% of their children will end up attending church regularly” (source). We’ve got to stop telling Christian fathers their job is not as important as their wife’s job. And Christian fathers, we’ve got to stop believing that lie.
Some dads need to be told, What your wife would appreciate more than you saying she has the most important job in the world is you realizing how important your job is and doing it.
The Women Without Children
On Mother’s Day, countless well-meaning preachers will likely give a sermon about the women who are doing, “the most important job in the world.” And I can’t imagine how heart-wrenching those words are to those women who do not – or cannot – have children.
What are we telling single women or women who have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive? Are we telling them, “No matter how you contribute to the work of the church, it can never match the importance of women who are mothers”? How wrong and how cruel for us to give this impression.
With the biblical accounts of women like Hannah and Rachel, you would think we would be more sensitive to this issue. You would think we would realize just how hard it can be on some women simply being childless, but we add insult to injury by telling them mothers have the “most important job in the world.” And that statement is not only untrue, it’s hurtful.
Women who are faithfully serving the church in other capacities are doing jobs that are just as important as the women who are raising children. I think we need to be more sensitive to these ladies. If we’re going to publicly recognize the job mothers do, we need to recognize the jobs the childless women do as well.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this, mothers have an important job. Fathers have an important job. Christians without children have important jobs. We need to stop trying to figure out who has “the most important job.”
Let’s all just do the good works God prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The good works you were created in Christ Jesus to do are important, whatever they are. So “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
I love you and God loves you,