When “Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling” Backfires

By:  Rebekah Hargravesrebekah hargraves

When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mommy (well, and a “cooker”, as I apparently said one time!). I always dreamed of having little ones of my own, wanted to be a stay-at-home mom just as my own mom was, babysat all throughout my teen years, and even was a nanny up until the day before I went into labor with my first baby. I guess you could say I’ve always been passionate about motherhood. Now as a mama to my own two little ones ages 2 1/2 and 10 months and the author of a book on motherhood, I am still passionate about this calling of mom, but in a slightly different way.

What may come as a surprise to some is that I began Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) with a chapter entitled “Lie #1: Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling”. Considering my background, that doesn’t quite sound like something I would write, does it? Though I am just as passionate as I have ever been about  the beauty and importance of motherhood and the truth that it is a high and holy calling, I nevertheless no longer hold to the idea that motherhood is a woman’s *highest* calling. In fact, I believe there are actually some adverse ramifications which stem from this idea.

The passion of my heart is to draw women back to the Word of God, to help them see just how very relevant and applicable it truly is to each and every struggle, question, or lie they could ever face in life. We need to be looking solely to the Word of God for the basis of our every belief, the forming of every aspect of our worldview, and the truth we need for our daily lives. This is certainly true in the case of the idea that “motherhood is a woman’s highest calling”. What began with very good intentions (i.e. an effort to counter the culture’s lies that about mothering not being a worthwhile endeavor and motherhood being unimportant and not something to be pursued) has inadvertently produced some unfortunate results in the process.

At this point you may be wondering, “What’s the big deal?” In a culture which disdains children and motherhood, what’s so wrong with proclaiming motherhood to be a woman’s highest calling? Well besides that being a painful and unfair sentiment for a single or barren woman to hear, that idea also leads to problems for women who are mothers.


How “Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling” Actually Harms Moms

At face value, there may appear to be nothing wrong with the concept of motherhood as being a woman’s highest calling. There are, however, several issues with this idea:

  • When we believe motherhood to be a woman’s highest calling, we begin to think mothering should crowd out everything else (and allow it to do so!).

We all know firsthand just how pervasive mommy guilt can be – we experience it whenever we attempt to have some “me-time”, we feel it anytime we pursue our own hobbies or interests, we get weighed down by it when we drop the kiddos off at their grandparents’ house so we can go out with our husbands. This is because we have bought into the mistaken idea that all our time and attention should always be focused on our children. Now, don’t get me wrong – if you are a mother, I firmly believe that apart from the Lord and your relationship with your husband which should come first, your children are to be your #1 priority. You should be putting intentional time and attention into mothering them well. It is wrong, however, to believe that you have only been given time for those things which strictly pertain to motherhood. This is what we begin to believe, however, when we believe motherhood to be a woman’s ultimate highest calling – our relationship with the Lord gets put on the back burner, our kids replace our husbands in our order of priorities, and everything suffers as a result.


  • When we believe motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, our identity gets wrapped up in motherhood.

When moms believe motherhood is to take up all their time and attention, they end up forgetting who they are and who God created them to be. We hear so many times moms say something to the effect of, “I can’t remember that girl I was in high school.” or “I feel like the woman I was before I had kids is gone.” or “I can’t even remember the interests or passions I had before the kids came.” This is what happens when we allow our identity to be wrapped up solely in who we are as moms. This does nothing but lead to our burning the candle at both ends and becoming chronically stressed out and depleted.

When we instead remember that our identity is to be found in the reality of our being image bearers of God and redeemed saints through Christ, everything changes. We begin to remember again the woman God originally created us to be, the woman with unique and specific passions, gifts, talents, and interests. The woman who has God-given permission to pursue those things, even in the midst of motherhood (see Proverbs 31:10-31 and 1 Corinthians 12). When we are careful to, yes, prioritize our children and to delight in the sacred calling of motherhood, but to also live life as the multi-faceted, whole woman we were designed to be, we flourish – and so do our families!


  • When we believe motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, motherhood actually loses its very importance and purpose.


The ironic thing is that, in a valiant effort to restore to motherhood its importance and worth, we have actually deprived it of both. We want the culture to understand that it is a beautiful thing (and a worthwhile endeavor!) to be a mother, but when we separate motherhood from its God-given role, instead placing it on a higher plane than God does, it becomes stripped of its high purpose. Here is what I mean: As I touched on above, our identity as Christian women is to be found in our being image-bearers of God and ambassadors of Christ. In reality, this is not only our identity, but our true highest calling, as well. A woman’s highest calling is to bear the image of God to the world and to represent Christ well. Motherhood, then, becomes an outworking of this, one important and impactful way in which a woman is able to spread God’s truth to future generations. Our Savior came to earth through the avenue of motherhood and childbearing (Genesis 3:15, 1 Timothy 2:15), and the spread of His truth today continues throughout the generations as women have children and more image-bearers are born.

Therefore, it is when we understand motherhood in its proper context, as one beautiful way in which the truth of God is able to be spread and our ambassadorship for Christ is able to be lived out, that motherhood then receives great importance and purpose. When we instead make the mistake of taking motherhood off by itself, raising it above the level of importance God gave it, and having it stand alone as the highest calling for women, then what is it all for? What then is the purpose of motherhood? Why is it believed to be the “highest” calling? There is no answer for this. It is only when we understand motherhood in light of the Gospel that the work of mothering becomes a vastly important work.


Look to Christ, Mama!

So, sweet mama, as you go about the daily work of mothering, working day in and day out to care for the needs of your children, to raise them up in the way that they should go, and to impart God’s truth to them, remember – what you are doing is important. It is beautiful. It is impacting countless future generations. It is not, however, your ultimate highest calling. The whole of your identity is not to be wrapped up in it. If you think it is, there will come a day in which your children are all grown and gone, and you will be left wondering what your purpose is in life. If you allow the sum total of your identity to be wrapped up in motherhood, you will feel like a failure when your children make mistakes, thinking yourself wholly responsible for how they turn out. If you place your identity in motherhood as your highest calling, it will lose some of its importance.

Instead, look to Christ. Daily look to Christ and find your mission, your identity, your calling, and your purpose in Him. When you do, your motherhood will be drastically changed for the better, and you will truly be working towards the advancement of the Lord’s Kingdom.

God bless you, mamas!

Bio: Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, podcaster, and blogger residing in TN. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her writings on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to “edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood”. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)”, releases in November.

Facebook: Hargraves Home and Hearth

Instagram: @rebekahhargraves

Twitter: @hhomeandhearth

Website: Hargraves Home and Hearth 


What Strong Women Really Look Like


By:  Bethany Douglas

Scrolling through Facebook last night, I came across no less than 3 picture memes that all had to do with supposedly “strong women”. These kinds of sayings have been increasing in number over the last few months- at least across my feed. And it has been equally increasing my alarm when more and more of my dear Christian sisters are reposting them.

I’m talking specifically about pictures like these that show the strongest women are those who no one knows what they’re going through, they are suffering in silence, they are fighting battles behind closed doors.

I admit, I have probably fallen prey to ‘liking’ or reposting these type of quotes in the distant past. But I am convicted that we are forwarding a fallacy… a lie of the devil.

A very clever, very understated lie- one that subtlety flatters our pride and aims to keep us sequestered from each other.

Oh my sisters! This is simply and unequivocally a lie straight from hell.

But it is a celebrated notion that we perpetuate!

Please stay with me here and let’s think this through.

First off, WHY on God’s green earth is it ever a good idea to suffer in silence? WHO among us wants to do that or enjoys it? It’s such a bizarre concept when you think about it!

WHAT is the advantage of being behind closed doors, by yourself, battling attacks alone? Have you ever heard of a single-person war? It makes no sense! More often than not, if we want to argue from the ‘battle/war’ standpoint… the army with the most people, the most practice, the latest weaponry… wins. I will put myself out there and venture that not a single battle has EVER been won by one person against many.

And yet, these quotes somehow seem to honor the women who do that.  Their very existence is an online shout-out for those who supposedly are waging behind-the-scenes war.

(Which, as an aside, I GREATLY suspect that no one actually is alone. Unless there’s someone in a far corner of the earth, void of human existence waging some battle, I seriously doubt there’s actually anyone by themselves. And at that point, they have purposefully and intentionally sequestered themselves from help and support.)

But I digress…

We women like the idea that we are invincible, able to do it all, need no one’s help- you know, the whole “I am woman hear me roar” mentality? We like these quotes that we pass along as a subtle (read: passive aggressive or helpless martyr?) message to others… “Yes, I am one of these women… I am fighting the good fight behind closed doors and in back alleys, all by myself, all alone… without a word of encouragement or support. I am strong. I am able. I am capable of doing this on my own! You have no idea what I’m going through and what I’ve done.” You get the idea…

Wow! Do you hear the pride there? Do you see the hypocrisy?

Do you recognize the scheming of the Devil in this idea?

There are 2 main issues here I want us to look at –

The first is this prideful idea that we can do it all. That we are enough.  Or at least we desperately try to convince ourselves of this. And yet scripture tells us over and over again that we can’t (and aren’t meant to!) be the end-all-be-all when things get rough. We are fallible, lacking, weak-  in short, HUMAN. And that’s OKAY! Read that again…. It is okay to be ‘not enough’. In fact, we are wasting our energy if we even try, because we will never be. It is simply not an attainable thing. We’re treading dangerously into God-held territory to think we are able.

The second is the idea that we are going through things and under attacks that no one else has ever gone through and no one can possibly understand our unique situations. Therefore we must fight it along, because “no one will understand.” Wrong again dear one! If there is anything I’ve learned through the school of hard knocks (i.e. my sin and some major warfare I’ve been a part of over the years), it is that Satan loves to try to convince us that we are unique in our sin, in our hard circumstances, in the battles waging around us. This is simply NOT true! He may be fantastic at lying, but I’ve found he’s a bit lacking in creativity. The devil is all quality and no quantity. He uses the same lies over and over again.  But they are super effective and we fall for the same ones time and time again. This lie is one of those- we’re unique in our situation… Satan THRIVES in our isolation! He will do all he can to separate us from the Body of Christ, from church, from our friends, our small group, our personal quiet times.

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book Helicopter Mom that I want to share with you. This is not intended to plug this book necessarily, but this particular section directly addresses what we’re talking about today. Clearly it is a message that God wants me to start bringing since these words were written 2 years ago now.

The chapter’s subject is about emergencies- both in the helicopter (for those that haven’t read my bio yet, which I’m very sure you all have J, I’m a flight nurse by vocation…) and in real life woman-hood.


Helicopter Mom


SOS, 7700, Mayday Mayday

The very last step in this whole emergency is to yell it out loud and clear. We need help and we need it stat, asap, 15 minutes ago, and right now! In helo operations, we get on the radio and start communicating with everyone. And I mean EV.VER.RY.ONE! We contact our dispatch, the aviation company dispatch, the nearest small airport frequency, the nearest big airport frequency, the nearest airport control tower, and even a general air-to-air mayday call. We bring in the cavalry!

You get the idea. We need help and we need everyone to know about it. There is no humiliation, no pride, no hesitation, no embarrassment, no stubbornness involved. We. Need. Help! We need the experts, we need air control, we need ground control, we need anybody and everybody who could possibly help us and we need them now. We need to give out as much pertinent information as possible to those who need it, as soon as possible.

Which, from a spiritual standpoint, is exactly the opposite of what Satan would like us to do. He likes to keep things in the dark, remember? He wants to keep secret fights, battles, scenarios that need spiritual reinforcements. And he will do whatever he needs to convince us that we do not need help and should not reach out. He thrives on our isolation.

So why the hesitation when we Christians face hard times? I don’t get it! This principle should apply to us in every emergency situation, should it not? The enemy will throw a million excuses at us, of every shape, color, and size, just to see what sticks: People won’t understand, they won’t care, we’re too busy, and it is too stressful to find the time to ask; the situation is too scary, too shameful, too embarrassing, too complicated. She will judge me. If I tell him this then he’ll wonder about that. They are too busy to listen to me. The church has bigger, more important things to worry about. The devil is not picky and will use whatever works, whatever you listen to that puts off calling a full-force SOS.

Too often Christians find themselves in dire straits, choppy waters, or downright F5 tornados (literally and metaphorically); too often Christians falter in asking for help when faced with these emergencies. When emergencies arise, whether it be with our kids, our spouses, our families, a friend, a church, whatever, we need support, backup, expert advice, and prayer. We need everybody who could possibly help us and we need them now. And yet so often we hesitate. We balk at giving out too much information, we stubbornly refuse help, we color at the potential shame of admitting that we even need help. Our pride will get us killed!

We moms are the worst! We have no problem anonymously trolling Internet sites about issues or seeking help, but when it comes to face-to-face interactions with others to ask for help, grieve, or get advice, we hesitate, we balk, we avoid. Especially during those dark days. Not good, gals. If we are needing emergency help, then we need emergency help, we need it now, and we cannot get it without telling others what is going on.

If you find yourself in the middle of that thing, you need help and you need it now. Call everyone you know who will pray for you, proclaim a 7700 from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your blog, your moms groups, your church, your friends, your family. Post it on flyers around town, if necessary. Get people on board, get them praying, get the help you need as soon as you need it. Do not be brave, do not be stubborn, do not be prideful. Be honest, be precise, be concise, be open, and let it all be known.

I have witnessed our battle’s devastation, bewilderment, and loss all too often. I would not wish that on anybody under any circumstances. But it happens, friends—not often, but too often. And I want us prepared for it if it does. I want us to be solidly rooted in Christ alone. I want God set as a firm foundation in our lives—starting right now, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, fully trained up, armored up, prayed up, and ears and eyes looking up—so that no time or energy is lost when those lights and alarms start blinking.


I hope my heart touches yours today. I am so alarmed by this culture of isolating ourselves- the very opposite of what we need to be doing… especially if we’re in the middle of a war. If you find yourself in this situation, I pray you reach out and call in reinforcements. If you are in a period of rest in your life, I pray you are keenly looking for opportunities to come alongside and be those reinforcements for your fellow sisters.


We are all in this life together and God has given us each other to be His hands and feet for each other- don’t miss out on the tremendous blessing that our Christian sisterhood is!

Start propagating TRUTH dear one!