Ordinary Greatness

by: Kelly Tarr

Recently, there was a nationwide gathering for college students called the Cross Conference. The focus was to inspire vision and equip students to go to the nations, “magnifying the kingly majesty of Jesus Christ.” As I read the quotes that streamed through my twitter feed, I was stirred in my faith. But I also became a little discouraged. I’m an ordinary mom, a ‘nobody’ really, in the whole scheme of things. I needed reminding that my ordinary life, that most people don’t see, is also destined for greatness in the Lord.

We All Have the Same Mission

I love the mission of Cross. There is nothing higher that we are called to on this earth than to magnify the kingly majesty of Jesus. Just writing it makes my heart beat a little faster, and brings tears to my eyes. Oh, my heart burns to do this!

There was a time when I thought I would leave for the mission field. Engagement to my future husband almost didn’t happen because of it. He was clearly not called in his particular season of life to go overseas, and I had a choice to make. I had to choose between going overseas, or following a husband in a very ordinary life in the States. Due to the dream for marriage He’d planted in my heart long before missions, and the specific orchestrating that He’d done up until that point in my relationship with Blane, I surrendered my desire for overseas missions to the Lord. My choice was to follow this man wherever he went, even if that meant never going to the mission field in another country. It was a very hard few weeks of wrestling in prayer.

Part of me felt that if I stayed here, married and hopefully with children, I wouldn’t be doing great things for God. I’d have stuff and conveniences, and might not even get to tell people about Jesus as often as if I were on the mission field. I needed reminding then, too, that the Lord calls us each to different things, all with the same mission: “magnifying the kingly majesty of Jesus Christ.”

Greatness has not so much to do with what we are doing, but how we are doing it.

The Glorious Mission Field of the Home

Sometime when I was in college, I was introduced to John Piper and the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. My heart sang as I read about the roles of men and women. It only confirmed what was already in my heart, but gave me language to articulate it. I marveled at the beautiful design of God in how He made man and woman to function together, in tandem. We complement each other when we walk according to how the Lord desires, and it’s a glorious picture of the Trinity. I think the norm is marriage, but that the Lord also calls men and women both to a life of singleness. As I read this book, I was inspired to do everything I could to prepare to be a godly wife and mother.

Being a wife and a mom is truly a high calling. While the roles are not esteemed in our culture, they are highly esteemed by God. Making disciples of all peoples begins with the family! As we lay down our lives first for the Lord, we then do so for our husbands and children. Our lives aren’t our own anymore, but the Lord’s.

Marriage and motherhood is not an easy, breezy, blissful life. There are very real sufferings, trials, and heartaches.  When Paul said that a woman will be saved through child bearing if she continues in faith, love, holiness, and self-control (1 Timothy 2:15), I believe that he was talking about the whole of motherhood. The entire process is part of our sanctification, from waiting on the Lord for children, to the nausea, labor and delivery, sleepless nights, and so on (that’s just the beginning!).  Every follower of Christ will experience real sufferings, trials, and heartaches on the mission field, whether we cross an ocean or live in the same town where we were born.  Those sufferings will just look different.

When the Lord brings a new life into a family, the child isn’t born saved. He is a lost little person in need of a great Savior. We have the privilege and opportunity to preach the gospel through all the years we have on this earth with them. It is our job to disciple them, and we have a particularly short window of time when we’ll have the most influence. In many ways, this discipleship is far more intense of a process than it would be to disciple someone overseas. God has given parents very clear instructions on what discipleship of children is to look like, and it’s not for the faint of heart. The poisonous snakes and the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel lurk just around the corner for our children here in the States. It may just be in the form of pornography and wealth.

In the home, we have the opportunity to partner with our husbands and with the Lord to raise up (with blood, sweat, and tears) Amy Carmichaels, Jim Elliots, Adoniram Judsons, and Hudson Taylors. We have a part in missions, and it’s a very important one.

That Kind of Mom 

I was so encouraged when my pastor reminded us the other day that Moses was the man that he was because of who his parents were. They didn’t obey Pharoah who commanded every first born son killed, but risked their lives to obey God and hide their child until he was too big.  Then, putting him in a basket, they entrusted him to the Lord in a new way. They were “radically” committed to Him. That was the home that Moses was raised in, with those kind of parents. It’s no wonder the Lord used Moses to be a great leader of His people! He became a man committed to the Lord, at least in part, because it was the example under which he was raised. I want to be that kind of parent. We don’t even know the name of Moses’ parents! I want to mirror their faith by being fiercely committed to Jesus Christ, willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of love, teaching my children about the Lord at every step of the way. I want not only my words, but my life example to lead them to the Lord Jesus.

Just think of the influence and legacy Sarah Edwards has left us, hundreds of years later. She probably didn’t give a thought to her life influencing thousands, maybe millions of women. We may never be like Sarah Edwards in the scope of our influence, but being faithful to the Lord and seeking to put His majesty on display is where we will walk in true greatness.

Magnifying Jesus in the Mundane

If you’re a mom, I bet you’re like me, and could fold clothes with your eyes closed. Better yet, you could change a dirty diaper with your eyes closed. Putting dishes in the dishwasher could be done in your sleep. They are routine, tedious tasks that just have to be done. Do you think these tasks would take on some glorious new significance and purpose if you moved across the ocean to do them in a dirt hut? The mundanity will follow you there, too.

My point is that whether here or there, the multitudinous mundane moments are opportunities to magnify Jesus. My name may never be known far and wide, because there are 10,000 of you doing the same things that I do, every day. I’m not doing anything unique. But I am doing something great, and so are you. My life is one surrendered to the Lord, and my heart is white hot fiery for Jesus.

The ordinary, everyday tasks have purposes in the Lord’s eyes. We just don’t usually ask Him what they are. Think of the many opportunities we have to act as intercessory missionaries! While folding laundry, while washing dishes, while driving in the car to accomplish various errands—these are all mundane, opportune moments to intercede on behalf of the unsaved, the missionaries who are reaching them at home and abroad, and others.

I’ve heard it said that prayer is the backbone of missions. I think we’re lacking here. More of us may be called to it than those who go overseas.

I want us as women, who are not currently called to overseas missions, to delight in and not despise the mundanity of our lives. I want us to see what a great opportunity we have to partner with the Lord in reaching the unreached peoples of the world from our home.

I Will Boast in Christ

I want to proclaim Jesus Christ to the nations. Maybe I’ll get to see that someday through one of my kids. Maybe when I’m 70, He’ll move me to Zambia. I don’t know what the rest of my days look like. But I do know that for now, He has planted me out in the country with a growing family. I want to be faithful to pursue the Lord, and trust that He is producing greatness in me for His glory. Be encouraged precious mom, He’s cultivating it in you, too.


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