In August 2012, my mom went to be with Jesus after a battle with brain cancer. That moment forever changed my life in every way, including in the way I view ministry. You see, my mom spent her adult life ministering for the gospel. While she was extremely organized and brilliant with computers, those who knew her well know her true legacy is in her encouraging cards, intentional conversations, Bible studies, and hospitality.
In the year and a half that my mom battled cancer, she didn’t talk about the trips she never got to take or the home renovations she never got to do. Instead, she kept on serving. Mom continued to teach eleventh and twelfth grade Sunday school and always showed more concern for others than herself. I believe my mom knew she was making eternal investments that would have ripple effects for generations for the glory of God. Mom’s life was Gospel-focused, and I know if she could talk to us now, she’d tell us it was so worth it.
My mom’s life and death not only showed me how ministry in the church matters, but how ministry in the home matters. There is no doubt that I’m a product of parents who discipled me. It’s Jesus who saved me, but He used my parents to lead me to Him and impart in me a love for His Word and the local church. I’m a product of a mom who lived out her walk with Jesus right in front of her kids and brought us along in her mission. My mom made students feel loved. She taught them God’s Word, made them her infamous “Rocky Road Pizza,” and sent her students cards when they missed a Sunday or two. Today, not only are my brother and I following Christ, but countless others are as well because my mom knew ministry mattered and she invested in them in some way.
The Lord was gracious to give me a better lens for eternity after my mom passed away. I often think about her life and her last days on this earth. Those moments remind me of what truly matters: love Jesus and love people. My mom’s legacy encourages me to keep pouring into others, to not worry about spills on the couch, and to be okay with losing a little sleep over an Impact Weekend event. Truly, each mess in the kitchen and intentional conversation is worth it because it’s an investment in the Kingdom that will leave an impact in ways we won’t fully realize on this side of eternity.
Friends, our lives on earth are but a vapor. For a little while, we’ll have legacies that live on past us, but what will those legacies be? Will they be legacies for Christ, or for self? At my mom’s funeral, our pastor said, “She taught us how to live, she taught us how to die, but most of all she taught us to love Jesus Christ.” I want my short life on this earth to count for something bigger than myself, the kingdom of God. My mom realized all Christians are to be ministers of the gospel. During the day, her career was a software developer, but her ministry extended throughout her whole life, including in her parenting and serving the local church. Therefore, our ministry, whether it be a paid full-time position, or simply living as my mom did, matters.
Moms, keep pouring into your teenage daughter and her friends. It might seem like they don’t like it now, but as a daughter who daily misses her mom, I’m so grateful she invested in my friends and me during our teenage years. Ladies, keep serving and ministering where God has you. Every text, conversation, prayer, or dessert baked matters. May we trust God to use our ministries in incredible ways for His kingdom, and may we use our time here on this earth to leave gospel-centered, Jesus-glorifying legacies.
Cassie Pattillo is a wife to Jack, and mama to Hunter (5), Isaac (3), and is in the process of adopting from India. Jack is a student pastor, so she loves serving alongside him and investing in teens’ lives. She is passionate about biblical literacy along with writing and teaching about Scripture. She is also a big fan of slow mornings with a cup of coffee, a good book on the beach, and Gamecock football.
Thank you for this beautiful post. Your Mom sounds like an amazing woman of God – thank you for the reminder that time is short and that what we do matters, no matter how small.