“I’m not your servant.” I caught the expression on the tip of my tongue before it could spill forth to my son. It’s a common enough saying, a quick retort to throw back at our kids when their needs become ridiculous, when they’re avoiding independence, when they expect far more than we could possibly give them. But this saying is just a symptom of the real problem hidden away in the depths of our hearts—we’d rather rule as sovereigns than humble ourselves as servants.
It's easy as moms to live like queens of our own kingdoms. We sit on our thrones and control nearly every detail of our family life. We govern our homes, keeping our kingdom from such unspeakable disasters as too much television and unmade beds. Our children live under our ever-changing emotions and our constant stream of instructions. Our husbands pick up our honey-do lists and bend their knees to our meal plans. We create lists and goals, then manage our worlds to make them succeed. In short, we rule. The purpose of the kingdom we have built—the Kingdom of Mom—is to make us look great, ensure our comfort, give us control, and bring us our desires.
We set out the plan for our kingdom, then work ourselves into exhaustion trying to build it up stone by burdensome stone. But it’s impossible to make our real-life messy little kingdom live up to the blueprints we have created for them. When our circumstances fail to support the kingdom of mom, the sins bubble to the surface: If our to-do lists don’t get checked off, we become anxious and irritated. When our children won’t get dressed in the morning for school, we stomp and yell to get them in line. If the constant demands of our children force us to leave the companionship of a fun playdate, we grumble and complain. When our friend’s little kingdom looks so much more together than our own, we envy. If our husbands don’t do things by our plan, we manipulate or ignore. The truth is our imperfect children and husbands will never be able to live up to the laws of our kingdoms. God is calling us to lay down our self-crafted crowns and temporary kingdoms to be a part of his eternal kingdom.
When the Christmas season comes along, we spend hours planning and preparing, attempting to teach our little kingdoms about the coming King. But when there’s already a sovereign in place, our attempts to share the kingdom of God fall flat. When we’re busy building our own kingdom, we can’t fully display the glory of King Jesus.
While our natural tendency is to focus on building our own kingdom, the Christmas season reminds us that he came to give freedom from our natural tendencies and redeem our fallen motives. Jesus alone is God’s prescription for all our fruitless, arduous building of our own kingdoms. Jesus may have been the King of the universe, but he was born lowly and lived to serve a world that didn’t deserve him. He displayed supernatural love through service. He laid down his free time, his plans, his personal comfort, and his freedom to serve us.
Serving like Jesus may feel impossible, but thankfully God grants us all the power and energy we need. The good news is God likes to use the imperfect and the lowly to display his glory. God wants to use our imperfect servanthood to display his infinite love to our families.
When we commit to serving like Jesus, it doesn’t mean replacing the kingdom of mom with a kingdom of kids or kingdom of husband. Those kinds of kingdoms are just as broken and unfulfilling as a kingdom of mom. Jesus came to herald the kingdom of God, to create a path for us to enter into the only eternal kingdom. Let’s set aside our kingdoms and serve our families in a way that points them to the kingdom of God instead of setting them up as sovereigns.
This dying to self can be a scary thing. What if I put the needs of my husband and kids ahead of myself? Who will take care of me? What if I submit gracefully to the plan God has for me instead of my own agenda? Jesus assures us, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”(Matt. 6:31-33). We can trust our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs to God. He’s a kind and loving ruler. He came to this earth to live within the limitations of humanity that he might sympathize with our weaknesses. This loving, sympathetic ruler is worthy of all our trust. Living in his kingdom is the only place we will find the comfort, satisfaction, and acceptance that we’ve been seeking in building our own. When we find our joy in living under the freedom of his rule, we can serve out of the abundance we have received.
We can rewrite our plans for motherhood, removing us as reigning sovereign and humbling ourselves before our servant king. Let's release our perfect plans for Christmas according to our kingdoms and humbly serve our families as a daily display of the love that led Jesus to lay down his crown and come to earth to live with us.
Maggie Combs is a wife, mom of three busy boys, writer, and speaker. When motherhood overwhelmed her, God drew her closer to him through writing her first book, Unsupermommy: Release Expectations, Embrace Imperfection, and Connect to God’s Superpower. You may have seen her before at The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, Revive Our Hearts, The Journeywomen Podcast, and more. Find more of her practical application of the gospel to motherhood at www.unsupermommy.com or on Instagram and Facebook.