Friday, August 22, 2008

Leave the Dishes in the Sink

I am a collector of fine books on the Christian religion. I have quite a few in my section on biblical spouse roles. My wife has read about all of them, and I've read through them as well. While teaching on spouse roles has its place, and I recommend books like them at times, I think there is a hidden danger in them. Often, the role of a Christian wife is portrayed as nothing less than Super-mom who can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, raise perfect kids and always satisfy her man. The books for men aren't so bad about the performance treadmill, but the women are placed on a hopeless quest to keep a perfect house, and keep their kids clean and polite, and be ready with a smile and tender embrace when hubbie comes home from work. I just want to say, I've never seen anyone live up to this. But I've seen a lot of women in guilty chains trying to. I fear that in the battle against feminist tendencies, we've just switched the focus from work to home. Women want to prove they can do it all, and men encourage them. The desire to perform is a cruel taskmaster. The funny thing is that most books on women's roles are written by other well-intentioned women.

Where is the Great Commission in the average housewife's day? I doubt anyone will come to Christ because her end tables are dust free. I can't imagine the pagan next door asking a Christian housewife, "How do you keep your dishes done so well? I just can't find the time. What's the reason for the hope you have?"

Here's a suggestion: why not leave the dishes in the sink, call a non-Christian friend, and talk to her about the gospel of Jesus Christ - the gospel that frees us from the need to measure up to June Cleaver. If you don't have a non-Christian friend to call, then leave the dishes in the sink, the laundry in a pile, the clutter in the living room and for God's sake, go out and find one.

28 comments:

bauerpower said...

I was excited to read this post, already having decided it was ok to leave the dishes in the sink and not worry about trying to be 'super-mom," (there never seems to be enough time in the day and the kids are little for a very short time). However, I was convicted to call my unbelieving friend more often and talk the gospel. Thank you, and God bless you and your terrific wife and kids and parents and church.

Anonymous said...

I will agree with you that society puts high expectations on woman, and we spend way too much time comparing ourselves to our neighbor. God calls us to be keepers of our home, and provider of daily needs, and if you read Proverbs 31, it sets a standard for a woman. I don't believe that God is glorified with a messy, and unkept home. It sounds like an excuse to be lazy!

Antonio Romano said...

An excuse to be lazy. Hmmm. And what is leaving your comment with the name "anonymous," exactly? Proactive?

In matters such as these, it is always easier to believe the offerer of such is doing so with skeletons in their own closet. We find it easier to deny one's convictions because, if they're true, maybe they are a little more committed than we are. So, if someone speaks of a conviction that you should be able to drink a beer, for example, we automatically assume that they must love beer and need a spiritual excuse to drink it. It isn't about freedom in Christ, then, it's about an excuse to drink. Much like here where it would be easier to say, it must be an excuse to be "lazy." That way, we can go on about our less-than-radical lives believing that a clean house speaks to some righteousness which our daily lives are just plain bereft of. We can say, "well, he and his wife are just lazy and want a spiritualized reason to leave their messy house alone." We need there to be a double standard, an ulterior motive....a man behind the curtain.

Darby is not lazy and loves his wife very much. Amanda is not a slothful housekeeper whose love for her husband and children is simply inspiring, period. I used to have the privilege of sitting in their house pretty often. More than usual, Amanda was busy in the kitchen preparing lunch, or a dinner, or a snack for my family and I. Her and Darby were busy helping us with our kids, while busy managing their own. The laziness with which you dismissed this exhortaton is simply uninformed and escapist.

I don't know why this comment bothered me so much, Anonymous.

But, for what it's worth, please know that there really are people who are for real. There really are people who live it out in every aspect of their lives. It's just too much of a cheap escape to brush this away as an excuse for laziness. And it's so rare, I'm more inclined to be like you and brush this kind of stuff aside believing somehow that the Cross meant less committed living. There are messes that glorify God.

But, Martha is always too busy cleaning them up.

Sometimes, the Savior walks among toys and crumbs and no carpet and stacks of papers. Anonymous, trust this sinful man: recognize things like this for what they are when you're around them. They are rare and precious and when they are gone, they are gone.

Darby Livingston said...

"They are rare and precious and when they are gone, they are gone."

True, but we are firm believers in restoration - and God is good at taking things beyond their former glory - even in the lives of sinful pukes like you and me. :)

Darby Livingston said...

Anonymous, it is okay if I call you Anonymous, isn't it? You said:

"God calls us to be keepers of our home, and provider of daily needs, and if you read Proverbs 31, it sets a standard for a woman. I don't believe that God is glorified with a messy, and unkept home. It sounds like an excuse to be lazy!"

Where does Proverbs 31 set a standard? Just because a pretty cool wife is described there doesn't necessarily mean it's a new standard. The Bible also describes King Solomon's many wives and concubines. Are those texts standard-setting as well? I haven't seen a Proverbs 31 woman yet, in spite of all the striving. I've seen some that come close, but they usually get disqualified on the "bringing food from afar" and "buying a field" parts. Nowhere does Solomon say, "She cleans her end tables while ignoring the plight of her godless neighbors." :) I think Jesus set the standard when he paraded Mary's better way. And those who understand the radical freedom they have in Christ will no more use my post as an excuse for laziness than a Christian will use the cross as a license to sin.

Anonymous said...

First, God alone is our Judge! It seems that you don't need a "name", to attack, or judge. And, if I gave you a name, what would you do with it? It sounds like Darby needs to spend less time evaluating, and critiquing other people. And that is my point! There is a difference between a "dirty" home, and a messy home. And, obviously, the Proverbs 31 woman is unattainable. It refers to the hard work of a wife and mother. I do not sit here without guilt, when it comes to a messy home, or even time wasted. So, is it an excuse to not do housework? It can be! Question, did Darby's wife call that lost friend, and share the gospel, or go out and make a connection with a non believer.

Darby Livingston said...

I'm sorry if you feel judged Anonymous. But many bloggers don't allow anonymous comments at all, so I'd say I'm a blogging liberal. They don't allow them because people tend to say things namelessly that they wouldn't say in the open. It is not my intention to lead you into sin. So I won't respond to anything else you write because I've obviously given you an opportunity for anger. For that, I ask your forgiveness. I wrote my comment to you in a light-hearted manner, but it obviously wasn't taken that way, and I'm sorry. As for your points, I agree that anything can be used for an excuse if one is looking for an excuse. However, my post was not to inspire women to a life of laziness. Where did I ever say that? My post was meant to inspire women to reconsider their priorities. That's all. Concerning my wife, yes she does interact with non-believers and they call her when they have a need. She also leads believers and non-believers alike to the gospel, for which she is thought of highly by both. She does this while keeping a house, homeschooling three of our children, taking care of our two littlest ones in the process, babysitting other people's kids almost every time she's asked, playing guitar in our church's praise band, heading up our church's children's ministry and teaching a class every week, assisting her husband in organizing the church's activities, and running just to keep the ole heart-rate up. So lazy? I suppose she is.

Jess said...

First of all I would like to comment that Darby has been my pastor for quite some time now and I very much enjoy his messages even when they have been convicting. "Leave the Dishes in the Sink" came at a strange time for me. That's just how God works though. For the past few months I have been in the process of trying very hard to keep a cleaner home and please my spouse more. Which there is nothing wrong with, therefore, when I read Darby's blog I didn't quite know how to take it because I have several non-christian people who come over and call me on a daily(sometimes constantly) basis. I get over whelmed by the company and calls sometimes and don't get my housework done and that at times can be frustrating when I am trying to do what is right in both senses by trying to reach out and spread the gospel and do what is right at home by keeping my home in order. Which by the way seems to be impossible, but I keep trying. As for living up to the Proverbs 31 woman. "Good luck finding one in this world!" There are alot of hard working women and alot of women with good intentions and that are very loving, but to find the perfect woman. Well, that's just simply impossible. The bible tells us we are all sinful. I would say I'm the king, but since I'm female, I guess I'm the queen, just ask my husband.

Anonymous said...

I agree, high majority of woman need to slow down, and invest in humans, rather than things. The Livingston's balance swings to the other end of the the scale. It seems contridicting, to say leave the dishes in the sink, when it should say leave the whole house a disaster. I have seen their home, They have been there, 2 years? And it looks like it is 30 years old.
Is there a balance, yes! Do people come first, yes! Is this going to matter in eternity, no! But, does God want us to take care of what he has given us, yes!
I hope this book is a life changer for many. I hope many are blessed by it, and I hope God gets all the glory. But, can we just get a little honesty around here?

Darby Livingston said...

"But, does God want us to take care of what he has given us, yes!"

Stop putting words in God's mouth! You can criticize me (and my lifestyle) all day long on my priorities, but when you claim to be speaking for God with about as shoddy an argument as "God helps those who help themselves," I have to draw the line. Slander me all day, but not God. You contradicted everything else you wrote about investing in humans with the profoundly ignorant line I quoted above. You've shown your priorities in your arrogant comment, and I've shown mine by the example I've tried to set. If you can't find anything but judgment and criticism to offer on my blog, please stop commenting. And the next time you comment, stop being a coward and put your name on it, or I'll trash it immediately out of love. You've obviously got something personal against me, and you're making yourself look foolish. I'm obligated to put an end to it.

Darby Livingston said...

"But, does God want us to take care of what he has given us, yes!"

No, he actually wants us to sell it all and give it to the poor. I guess we're both wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting as anonymous because I don't want to take the time to make a user name...blogs are not my thing, but I'll make an exception.

My housekeeping was never even mentioned in the original post. I'm not sure why it is being discussed. But since it is, let me clear up the discussion. My housekeeping is shabby, and that's being generous. I am a lazy person by nature and I despise house work. There is no theology that can excuse that, and my husband knows that full well and has never tried to excuse it. It is one of the biggest struggles I have, and I am resting in the grace of God to redeem me from that and in the righteousness of Christ to get me to heaven while I continue to strive to improve.

This post was about Christianity at large and the current trend in books written to Christian women. In our church and counseling, we have always and will continue to exhort women (including myself) to work hard and not be idle, and to be keepers of their homes. But I just don't hear enough encouragement to sit at the feet of Jesus as Mary did and to take time to do good for others even when the things at home aren't done. I don't hear enough about the true Good News that Christ has redeemed us and God is singing over us even when we don't have all our ducks in a row. God doesn't like you better when you have a clean house! :) (Your family might, though.)

That's all...now I'm going to go clean my house so that maybe it will only look like I've lived here for 20 years.

Amanda Livingston

Anonymous said...

Just in case anyone is confused, these last two posts are a different "anonymous." I, Amanda, am not claiming the rest of the anonymous posts. I really need to make a user name if I'm going to comment, now I'm confusing myself.

Amanda Livingston

Antonio Romano said...

Anonymous, for someone who said God is our judge, you have an amazing amount of judgment to dish out.

You should remember though, God is gracious enough to attach His name when He makes judgments.

What is the point of commenting on what the Livingston's house looks like? What is wrong with you? You have a personal vendetta from which you lack the courage to take on an edifying and lovingly honest discourse face-to-face.

I would guess you have been convicted by what you have seen or heard and are lashing out anonymously because it's easy. You lack the guts to do this in a mature context. You'd rather do it on a blog where you don't have to look someone in the eye. Whenever we're challenged by something, if we are afraid or threatened, we take it out on someone who cannot threaten or challenge us. Like a computer who will let you use the name, "anonymous."

See that up there in the heading? That's my name. Antonio Romano. Sinner. Failure. Coward. Letdown. I own it. So, bring it on.

But seriously, if you keep being insulting, I'm going to pull out the big dogs of my dizzying intellect.

Grow up.

So, you've been to the Livingston's house? Were they cooking dinner or providing snacks or housing group or counseling or showing hospitality or love or kindness, some other lazy venture...why were you there? God alone is our judge but you noticed the condition of their home and now feel liberty to comment on it ANONYMOUSLY in PUBLIC?

I thought God alone was our Judge?

Apparently, what you left with was the ability to dish out what you cannot take and will condemn in others (ironically) when you see it: Judgment.

Are you a Democrat?

Anonymous said...

Whew! I am still reeling from these blogs! As I keep seeing each one coming in, I am thinking there is something getting lost in the translation...we are to lift one another up and edify...also admonish and rebuke....when necessary.
As for being a worker in the home, a wife has been given a wonderful role. While Christians are to consider carrying out the Great Commission their primary purpose on earth, there are responsibilities that come with just being here on the planet. A man can go to his place of employment. If a frind calls his cell phone and needs to talk to him, that man cannot drop what he is doing, leave work and go minister to the person every time. He would lose his job! Most employers would fire him immediately.
For a wife working in the home, we seem to underrate her responsibilty to her role. She does have more flexibility and can juggle duties, but not all the time and not whenever she wants to. Likewise, the Lord never calls her to be idle at home. But in fact, in my own home, there are times when I am not out sharing the gospel, but am at home and not having anything pressing me at that time. If I know I have been neglecting housework and I'm instead, being lazy, I can feel that conviction! And I hate that feeling, but not as much as I enjoy really being lazy!! Shame on me! And then later when my family has to do without or with less than they should have to, I am ultimately ashamed. And when my friend or family member comes to my home after I've long neglected it, I am again ashamed. But some women are natural born cleaners! lol Some of us have to really work at it! It sounds like Darby's wife is a hard worker. It sounds like she has much on her plate. They all seem like valid reasons for her self professed blog. Now then, the thing to remember is, there is still time to do that other thing called being a worker at home. We in our hearts know when we're being lazy or unorganized. It comes down to learning to love the role that God has given us. It's a good role! It's very rewarding! How do I feel when I do my job well? I feel very good! What if Christ decided to be lazy? I'll bet my mansion will look new forever! But there was just no place in these blogs for the type of criticism coming forth about their home! Look at the disharmony it stirred up!
So here I am lifting up Darby's wife: Good job with the wonderful ministry you have at your church! May He continue to use you in mighty ways for the work of His kingdom! Now for the admonishing: You're a wife, a homemaker, With it comes resposibility! Learn to love your home and consider working in it as unto the lord, cause when you get to heaven, your mansion is gonna be beautiful! God will not have to kick stuff outa the way, or get out a plastic plate, or put the lid down for you! He's so gracious, it's gonna be more than you could ask for! Hang in there, and don't beat yourself up any more over your self professed....lack of housekeeping skill. Sounds like you are a super person to know and sounds like Darby is a wonderful generous hubby. There! Now I am never blogging to anyone again! I'm already too scared that Tony guy is gonna come after me with his killer intellect!
See you all in heaven, I hope! Ps.I'm very scared to sign any names...cause of that Tony guy...

Anonymous said...

Ok, Wow! I have just sifted through this set of posts and maybe nobody will ever read mine! However, I am compelled to post, even though I probably should not!
I happen to know the Livingstons well, too! I should, I raised one of them from birth!
I think we as women are too often judged for our homemaking accomplishments rather than our service to the Gospel. It is my belief that every Christian on earth has a mission called evangelism!
If the only thing we ever did on this earth was lead people to the Lord...oh how awesome! You see, I just had a close friend who passed away a couple days ago. Her death is still on my heart because I never spent time witnessing to her about salvation! My heart could never reconcile the fact that I didn't, because I was busy being such a great housekeeper (which I'm not)!
I'm the first one to say that a smooth running, clean, organized home makes for a great place to be! And it certainly helps if you take care of your home because you use your home for outreach and hospitality. I believe impressions count! But if I had to leave any impression with someone, let it be that I was radical for lost souls!!! Period!!! Let them see how much it means to know Christ! There may be times when it means leaving a home looking like a tornado went through. Mine does right now! I have dustall over my washer top, dishes are piled up in my sink. I still have last winter's clothes in bags sitting in my laundry room. I won't even have to put them away, it's getting so late in the summer! Question is, will I put away the soon to be summer bags?? lol
My computer room is a shambles at the moment. In fact, I cannot let you in to see it! There's only room for one person to move around in there at the moment, you may fall down! lol
When I want to find something important, I am digging through stashes of stuff, sometimes at my wit's end!
I am so unorganized it's not even funny, and yet women have told me they admire me because I "have it all together"! lol
Do I think a clean house is a wonderful thing? Sure, and there were so many years when I didn't care what my home looked like. I just didn't have a desire to do the work. Over the years I developed a desire for it, my allergies a big instigator of that. When something like that stirs us up, really stirs us up, we can become good housekeepers. And I do consider it to be a ministry. But that will always be lesser to our primary work of reaching the lost. I'm all for a clean, neat, and tidy home. I'll risk the wrath of Mr. Romano and Pastor Livingston, in saying that we are called to be good stewards (managers)of all the gifts we have been given. Unfortunately, the biggest gift, being our slavation, seems the least likely we want to share with others. We share all our earthy possessions. How much more, our spiritual, eternal possession? Oh my goodness, souls are dying and going to hell, people! I'm almost in tears over the death of my dear friend Reta! No amount of clean dishes or laundry can bring her about her salvation!
At the end of the day...I see it like this; I can't blame my messy home on anything else but my desire to be doing something else. I wish it were because I'm always doing evagelical ministry. It's not. That's not the reason my house is being neglected...I do have the time to do the work...I just don't take the time. Instead, I'm posting comments on this blog site that I haven't visited in almost a year!
I'm glad that I've finally visited again, because I too, have a new blogsite that I hope he will add as a link! lol
Regards and God's richest blessing to all! Let's get busy, doing the work of a steward. Let us number our days! If we do not have tomorrow on this earth, what then will we do with today? How would we spend it?

Nancy Livingston, blogger of radical thoughts!

p.s Sorry, I'm only signing Anonymous, because I don't know how to do the username thing!
I'm computer illiterate and Mandy has spent much time ministering to me in that department as well!

JanAl said...

Ok, there are many thoughts going thru my mind right now. I don't know where to start, and what I need to leave out! First, to Nancy, because she was the last one I read. Don't let your heart be burdened. Romans 8:28-30. Yes, you missed out on the blessing of sharing the gospel, (and this is not an excuse), but find peace in the fact that God is in control.

As for the messy home issue: WHO CARES!!!!!
And, if you do, get a life!

The only time you can call my home clean is when I know someone is coming over. Even then, I have my "hidden" messes. In fact, I use to be embarrassed when people showed up, unannounced, because my home always looks like a tornado goes thru it. But, I have quit apologizing for it. I LIVE in it, am I suppose to not use what I have!
On monday, my mom-in-law came over to babysit while I had an appt to go to. Instead of doing what I know was best for me, like reading God's word, and taking a walk, to kick start my energy level, I chose to clean my home so that Nancy would not have to worry about any of my messes. The problem with this was, I made a commitment to God last week to start waking up at 5:00, to spend time with him first thing in the morning, and He has been faithful to get me up, to do so. But, that day I chose my housework over Him. And it bothered me all day! And, I know Nancy could have cared less(well maybe if there was animal hair every where, it would have bothered her), but, I also know, that she cares more about my relationship with Christ.
Amanda~ I'm proud of you for not attacking back, your comments, (I think), are pleasing to God. I have to say that Amanda is the least confrontational person in our family, so I don't know why she was the one attacked, and it was just plain mean.
And to Tony, I don't fear you. My fear is in the Lord.
Darby~ Romans 4:1 The quarrel is within that persons heart.
Proverbs 19:11, "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense".

Darby Livingston said...

Janal,

I am proud to call you my sister-in-law.

Antonio Romano said...

Dizzying. Dizzying intellect. It's from the Princess Bride. "Killer" intellect? Good Lord.

Why would you need to note that you don't fear me? That goes without saying AND I'm on Amanda's side in this confligration.

Besides, I'm simply trying to help defend the woman from anonymous chides.

Why unleash the venom on me? I am but poor and meek.

Antonio Romano said...

And lowly.

Antonio Romano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Antonio Romano said...

And frail.

And on occasion...a little gassy.

Anonymous said...

Tony

I am sure she was referring to anonymous who said you were scaring them. Sarcasm font was not working I am sure.


chuck

Anonymous said...

Ok...goodness, another post from me...Chuck is correct, the fear thing was from the other anonymous person, and I think they were either 1. just kiiding about fearing Tony or 2. really concerned that Tony would respond to him/her in the way that only Tony can! To know, know, know Tony, is to love, love, love Tony!
He is very lowly in the way that he kinda reminds me of Rush Limbaugh, so in my mind he's in good company!
JanAl said it all and better than anyone! She is a gem of a wife to my son, and an awesome mother!
If anyone knew her past, she has risen above it all and the Lord is her strength!
And I want to agree her that Mandy is very lowly and humble in her heart. She comes to my rescue all the time! I can bother her anytime day or night and she will try so hard to help me "fix" something that I've screwed up!
She is one of the strongest components in CAYAF, no stretching it!
If anyone does not see it, they have to be blind!
I've never seen her display animosity toward anyone. Ever! When I've been critical of something or someone, she's the first to give them the benefit of the doubt. She chooses her words carefully, where I'm quick to be impulsive with my speech. There are so many qualities to both my daughters, I can't begin to name them all. Most of those reading these blogs know them both and can attest to what I've said.

Well, I guess everyone knows who is writing this but I still don't know how to do the username thing.

P.S. Tony, the year is quickly coming to an end...
you know what that means...if not, Kristi will remind you 'round about the end of December!

Love to all, Nancy

JanAl said...

Nancy~ THANKS!

Tony~ I just thought it would be funny to say that! I don't know if people were really fearing you, or not! If they were, maybe you need to consider responding in love next time. I'm not say it will be easy, and I stand guilty of quick reponses out of anger. But, as followers of Christ, scripture tells us our reponses should be loving. So, lesson for today, love those who persecute you. Don't have time to look it up, but I know it's in there! Anonymous needs some love!!!!!!!!!!

JanAl said...

Sorry if I don't make any sense, this pain medicine makes me feel a little loopy, as if I needed help in that area!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JanAl said...

What is a sarcasm font?

JanAl said...

Sorry Darby, I'm trying to get your comments over 30!!!! HAHA!!!!