I have the privilege to read many fascinating books that discuss different facets of faith and work. I am particularly drawn to books that discuss neglected parts of the conversation. Glory In the Ordinary: Why Your Work In the Home Matters to God by Courtney Reissig is one such book. This book responds to the need for content directed toward stay-at-home moms. It goes without saying that their work has enormous value, not only to their families, but society in general. Unfortunately, mothers are not always affirmed and encouraged in the important work they do.
Courtney Reissig is a wife, mother, and writer who enjoys teaching women about the truths of God’s Word through any means provided to her, whether it is in a personal conversation, an article, or speaking publicly. She is an assistant editor for the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the author of Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design, and presented a workshop titled “Not Just a Women’s Issue: Why the Work of the Home Matters for Us All” at the 2017 TGC National Conference held in Indianapolis. Courtney and her husband, Daniel, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and serve at Midtown Baptist Church. They have three children.
Like many other books on work, Reissig breaks down her topic by discussing the need for others in our work, loving our neighbors in our work, what to do with guilt we face in our work, the rest we need from our work, and finally the purpose of our work. That purpose is “spreading His glory throughout the world.” God accomplishes the spreading of His glory through many means; one of which being through us as His creation. As I write this, I’m reminded that God did not have to accomplish His purpose in this way. He could have brought glory to Himself by Himself, yet He chooses to use us.
We know that He spreads His glory through the local churches we all find ourselves in, but the local church also consists of individual members who have lives that they live day in and day out. We carry that mission with us when we go into our respective fields of work – including the home. God’s purposes are accomplished not just on Sunday morning, but also Monday through Saturday as we labor in our work.
Just as there is not much content written for stay-at-home moms as it relates to faith and work, there is a similar lack of content discussing the need for rest in the midst of the faith and work conversation. I’m grateful that Reissig discusses this in her book and would also refer you to my review of Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human by John Mark Comer.
Reissig wisely points out that rest is one way we bear God’s image to a watching world:”This need for rest and reprieve from our work goes back to the beginning of creation, when God created Adam and Eve in His likeness, His image. Work is one of the ways that we bear God’s image, but rest is another. As humans living in a fallen world, we don’t get the full benefit of enjoyment that God had at creation because we are finite and imperfect…Rest is a God-designed gift meant to point us back to the One who created us and sustains our weary hands in our labors.”
I was also touched by the honesty and vulnerability about the difficulty of parenting which Reissig demonstrated in her discussion of guilt:
When my twins first started at Mother’s Day Out, I was afraid to tell people. For three years they had been at home with me everyday, and this was the first time I was sending them somewhere. I was sad. I missed them. I felt a little guilty for leaving them. But more than anything I felt shame. I felt like a failure. Walking them through those doors to their classroom felt like a commentary on what I was able, or not able, to do in a given day…Putting them in Mother’s Day Out was my white flag. It was my acknowledgement that I really could not do it all, no matter how much I tried. The work of the home is not a job for one person, not matter how hard we try to make it one. It really is a community effort.
In the context of guilt , Reissig discusses two very important terms that define how we work: community and collaboration. Community is “the network of people you work alongside who share the workload. Collaboration “occurs when you use that network of people to make you better in your work.”
Loving our neighbor in the midst of our work is an important and convicting topic. Reissig’s argument is that your neighbor is oftentimes much closer than you think: “If our at-home work is a way we love God by loving others, then we love God by loving other people under our roof whom God has given us.”
Proximity may change, but everyone you come into contact with is your neighbor.
In addition to loving God, we are called to show love to others through our work:
Our work is not only about our relationship to our Creator; it affects every other image bearer in this world. Work…is as much about the world as it is about the individual. We are relational beings, and every decision we make and vocation we perform is within the context of a relationship and community. Work originally was intended to reflect God, in whose image we were created, with love as a necessary, natural by-product.
I am pleased to see the potential wide reach of this book as represented by those who have endorsed it.
“As one who never expected to work in the home, this book is refreshing, gospel-saturated encouragement for all of us who are knee-deep in laundry, childcare, and dishes. Be prepared to see your work in a whole new way: with joy, for the kingdom, and with eternity in view.”
Christina Fox, writer; speaker; author, A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament
“Have you ever considered the significance of your work at home? Everyone needs encouragement in his and her work, and in Glory in the Ordinary, Courtney Reissig provides just that. Reissig shares honestly and humbly about the various temptations and struggles of at-home work, reminding us that our work—from cleaning dishes to wiping runny noses—is good and meaningful work, ultimately because it’s meaningful to God.”
Trillia Newbell, author, Enjoy; Fear and Faith; and United
I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. While Reissig wrote this book primarily for stay-at-home moms, its content has far reaching application, as God calls every person of faith to infuse purpose into every facet of the ordinary.