We live in a busy age. The industrial revolution, greater specialisation, flexibility in the workplace, technologies that free work from a geo-spatial location to anywhere the worker may choose have meant that marketplace employment can continue through the stages of life that once precluded a worker from continuing. The birth of a child, for example. With greater choice and an increased lifestyle expectation necessitating greater income, there can be pressure for parents to return to work. The mood of our age can diminish the usefulness and value of full-time parenting.
My mum didn’t work. My dad was a respected manager in a multinational company. I visited his office in my school holidays. I sat at his desk in a high-level corner office on Market Street. My mum annoyed me much of the time. I did not aspire to be a stay at home mother who did not “work.”
As a primary age child and a teenager, I aspired to lofty things… to make a difference in my work, to achieve academically, to be like my dad with his seeming career success. My mum prayed with me – daily.
When I was completing my HSC in a year of divorce and sickness in our family. My mother was praying for me. When I was navigating the isolation and overwhelm of university, my mother was praying for me. When I was embarking upon a series of interviews and my subsequent first year in the workforce, my mother was praying – and ringing me nightly to make sure I was making it through. When I transitioned into a full time ministry role, leaving behind the security and seeming significance of a clear career path, my mother was proud, and praying. Always praying. It was her work.
Early this year as I was juggling the final semester of Masters degree and the rewards and challenges of a church plant and other ministry roles, it was my mother who was on the phone counselling, praying and strengthening me. Even in the throws of advanced kidney disease and the commensurate toll that almost daily dialysis was having on her mind and body, she was still praying. Working.
When she died in June this year there was no consternation over her future – she had gone to be with the Friend she had known for a lifetime. No successor was employed in her role. She had finished her life work and had left a legacy of a short lifetime of prayer. What a great loss and a great weight of glory. Her career of prayer had spanned the adult chapter of her 55 years of life. She didn’t study in a university. She didn’t mark her achievements on a CV. She was never headhunted by recruiters for a coveted role.
Kim’s career, however, built my life. She worked from home and she brought heaven to earth through hidden, daily, persistent prayer.
Against the spirit of the age, my mother, and many others chose to respond to what they believed to be a vocational call to parent full time, and in my mother’s case, “work” in her office of the woman who prays. The investment and outcome of that work, though not as concrete and evident as a KPI document, will speak into eternity.
Shirelive Church, Pastor (Cityside, Generations & Special Projects)