Profiles of moms who are making a difference
I am often awestruck at the women I see around me — both in real life and online — who are doing really amazing work in the midst of motherhood. These women are difference makers in the world who have identified and are living out their mission or God-given passion.
You need to know all about them, too! The Moms on a Mission series is all about these women. Once or twice a month, I’ll feature a mom who is living out her mission both inside and outside her home.
I’ve got a few other moms in mind, but I also would love suggestions. If you know a mom or are a mom who is living out her mission and God-given passion, I’d love to hear about it! Click on the “Contact” tab or send me a message through the Families with Grace Facebook page. I look forward to sharing stories that will inspire us all!
Today’s Mom on a Mission is Pastor Stefanie Hendrickson, who is a pastor and editor as well as a mom of three. She is on a mission to share God’s love inside and outside of her home. You’re going to be inspired by her story!
FWG: What is your God-given mission or passion?
SH: As a teenager, I felt called by God to serve Him, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like. I thought perhaps I would serve in missions and move overseas. I distinctly remember telling my youth pastor about my calling and being frightened at his suggestion that I would need to attend seminary after college!
During my time at Olivet Nazarene University, I served on a couple of mission trips (to Italy and Croatia) and helped in any way possible to learn more about ministry. In fact, I have a passion for the written word and received a degree in literature. I added a minor in missions in order to somehow figure out what God was calling me to be “when I grew up.”
After graduation, I was an intern with the Nazarene Publishing House and ended up enrolling in seminary a few months later. It was daunting, but I moved forward and ended up earning a Masters in Divinity. Seminary is also where I met my husband who has served as my co-pastor throughout our years in ministry.
I have always been a reader; I was the kid in class reading a book while everyone else was chatting away. My first job was at the local community library. (I really, really didn’t want to work in fast food.) I even considered getting a degree in library science. (I sometimes still think about doing that because what can be better than being surrounded by books all day?!)
In my undergraduate studies, I tried to figure out how to marry my passion for the written word with my calling to ministry. My first job out of college was a Sunday School curriculum editor. And since then I’ve had the privilege to be both a pastor in a local church and serve the Church through the written word. These two avenues have allowed me to be able to equip people both for life and ministry. I love it!
FWG: How do you work to live out that mission right now?
SH: My husband and I are currently planting a new church that meets in our home. We don’t necessarily look a lot like your typical church (we all—everyone from the babies to the oldest—meet in our upstairs great room on Sunday evenings), but we believe that as society changes, the Church needs to be able to live as faithful followers. It may mean that we have to sort out the essentials and non-essentials of the faith. Our parishioners are amazing, and we have all seen a lot of growth in our lives and church.
Our church has been meeting for several years and all the while we have been reaching out to people in our community, living life beside them and inviting them to join in the life God’s grace offers. We now have some couples coming who we have been ministering to for years. Years.
American society is quickly moving to post-Christianity. We followers of Christ can fight, kick and scream about it. Or we can get busy living the grace and Christ and loving our neighbors. The difficulty is that many times that ministry of grace and love takes a long time to sprout.
In my tradition, I report to a superintendent who oversees several churches. Each year we get together to talk business and vision. The easiest way to try to assess health is numbers: numbers of people, conversion, dollars, baptisms. You name it, we count it. The problem is, those numbers do not always reflect health. (A wise seminary professor once noted that “cancer grows fast, too.”)
Our neighbors, co-workers and community members don’t typically have any connections to church or, unfortunately, good opinions of it either. Working counter-culturally is difficult enough, and many times the Church is slow to adapt in ways that reaches the people she is called to love.
FWG: What are some of your biggest challenges and blessings in living out your mission?
SH: The balance of motherhood and ministry has been one many of my female colleagues have wrestled with. Being a female clergy presents its own challenges, but adding family to the mix makes it more difficult at times. The ministry is often difficult for families, because much is often expected of the ministry. And sometimes that is to the detriment of his or her family. I have been blessed with the ability to work part-time at home, but that can also make it difficult to get much done.
Our congregation is intergenerational—we all meet together for our service. It isn’t always easy, but I am continually amazed at how the children are learning that they are a part of the Body of Christ. They participate in the service. They listen to what is shared (even when it doesn’t seem like they are). They even teach the adults about the grace and goodness of God.
I think family life is a lot like that—we have to share life together, inviting our children to learn (and being willing to learn ourselves) as we guide them into maturity. Sometimes that’s messy. Other times it means we have to draw limits for ourselves.
The counseling professor at seminary once told us that as she was studying and working on her degree she had to decide what holiday traditions her family would observe. She knew she couldn’t do it all. She asked her children which things meant most to them in celebrating the holiday, and that’s what they did.
FWG: What’s the best advice you have for other moms who are following their passions?
SH: We need to give ourselves permission to not have to “do it all.” Around our house we call it, “giving each other some grace.” I think moms especially need to know they don’t have to do it all to be what God created them to be.
I often sign my correspondences with “Grace and Peace.” The peace that is spoken of in the Scriptures, shalom, isn’t peace in the sense of being without strife. It is wholeness. I think of it as being who God created you to be.
It’s hard to have that wholeness if we allow life and the world to tear us into a thousand different directions in an attempt to be the perfect mother. That comes at a cost that is too high for any of us–or our families–to pay.
Know a mom who needs to be featured in the Moms on a Mission series? Let us know through the “Contact” tab or through a message on the Families With Grace Facebook page!