means, ends, and tyrannical tools

You know those “job descriptions” of a mom that include everything from taxi driver to medic? They’re funny to read, and they’re certainly true enough, but confession:

I get things topsy-turvy.

I easily get into Nutritionist mode and forget that that’s not actually my job. Learning about health and nutritions is simply a means to an end: nurturing and caring for my children. I get into Housekeeper mode and suddenly we will have a clean house! Now! OR DIE TRYING!!

My means become the end. And my true end becomes collateral damage.


You’ll hear me and so many other home schooling mamas say, “Your curriculum is a tool, not a master. It’s there to serve you, and not the other way around.”

I think of that this week. I have lots of tools in my box — not just my “mom” box, but in my “life” box. But too often I stop seeing them as tools to serve me in my goal as disciple and disciple-maker, and I begin serving them. An organized home is a blessing as I raise children who love order and work and peace. But an organized home is a terrible slave master, showing no mercy, when I let it become tyrant rather than tool. Healthy eating is a serious responsibility with lifetime effects, and I want us to be responsible with these bodies. But nutritional eating is a master that will drive you to the brink of nervous breakdown if you let it become your end, and not the means. Those are just two examples, but I’m amazed at how well that applies to every single good endeavor. (Being On Time to Church, Family Devotions, Modest Dress, Coupon Clipping, Real Play Only, Chore Charts, Gas and Mileage Savings, Bible Study Attendance, Exercise, Good Book Reading, Theological Studies… All fabulous tools and terrible Masters.)


Who’s in charge here?

That’s a question worth asking myself regularly.

What’s the End (knowing and loving Jesus, and loving those I’m called to in a way that shows them Jesus), and what are the means? The end usually requires the means (don’t throw babies out with bathwater), but let’s not get lost somewhere in the middle, chasing our tails.

Hone my skills with the tools in my box. Learn how to use them. Walk by the Spirit, knowing which tool to use when, and when to lay your favorite one aside for a season. The Holy Spirit isn’t a tyrant: when I feel like I’m slave to a dictator (including my own selfish desire for clean and quiet), chances are I’ve lost sight of the Goal and have become servant to a tyrannical tool.

Down with tyrants. I’m all for freedom.


Because we all like pictures in our posts:

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