If you’re like me, you try – at least occasionally – to become better, more effective, more competent in your roles and responsibilities at home. And then after a period of trying, you peter out because it turns out it’s quite exhausting to grow and change and fight entropy and bad habits.
We have to become accustomed to and accepting of small change over time: faithful application, faithful repentance, day in and day out. Rather than huge life overhauls that don’t last, wearing us out and making us want to give up on everything, we have to be content with baby steps and gradual shifts.
To keep us on the right track, moving forward however slowly, we need to keep our eyes on the end we’re after. We must begin with the end in mind.
Beginning with the end in mind is envisioning what you want in the future so that you know specifically what you’re working toward. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not likely to get there.
What is the end?
- a final part of something, especially a period of time, an activity, or a story
- the furthest or most extreme part or point of something
- a goal or result that one seeks to achieve
Rather than simply do a duty because we have been told we must or we feel we’re supposed to, we should do our duty knowing our aim and the reason why. This is particularly true of housekeeping, which quickly becomes mundane, tedious, unsatisfying work if we don’t care about it and we don’t know why we’re doing it.
Begin with the goal in mind
The goal of housekeeping is to be ready for use.
The end goal of housekeeping is actually not to have a clean house. The clean house is itself a tool, not an end. A house being used for living, working, loving, serving is fulfilling its end. Keeping up with the maintenance is useful because it helps us live, work, love, and serve more effectively, not because the house’s natural, normal state is supposed to be some sort of static, sterile, pristine clean.
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When we clean house as though the point is to arrive at an end state of Clean, then we’re bound to be frustrated and discouraged because clean never lasts. Part of that is due to the Fall and the imperfection of the world; however, part of that is due to simple use.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. – Proverbs 14:4
This Proverb does not teach us that having a filthy house is ok. Rather, it contrasts a place of productivity with a place of barrenness. If our desired end is Clean, then barrenness makes sense. But that is not what God desires. God desires life and love, and with that comes mess. And that’s ok. Messes happen, then we pick them up, then more mess happens, and then we take care of them.
This is the pattern of a vibrant, full life and we must accept that if we’re going to keep up a cheerful attitude in the midst of it all.
Clean doesn’t last, because clean isn’t the point.
Begin with the extreme point in mind
The point of housekeeping is stewardship.
So, why work toward cleanliness if it never lasts? Because it part and parcel of taking care of what God has given us. We are called to be wise stewards, caretakers, of all God has given us.
Taking care of all God has given us includes the house itself. When we clean the house, we are caring for it, preserving it, making it useful for its purpose and available for service.
Taking care of all God has given us also includes the people He has entrusted to our care. Cleaning the house is taking care of our family and others we invite in. Our homes are for growing people. The environment and atmosphere of our home is part of caring for the people in our home – both our family and others when we extend hospitality.
Our home is a tool of service for the kingdom. When we clean it, we are sharpening it for more effective use – as long as our cleaning keeps the perspective of the home as the tool and the people as the end, and not the other way around.
Begin with the final story in mind
The final story of housekeeping is loving people.
There are no eternal brownie points for clean houses. God does not love you or approve of you more or less based on the state of your house.
So does that mean the state of our houses doesn’t ultimately matter?
I have tried to wrestle the answer to that question to a yes, but it’s not true. It still matters. Our homes are entrusted to us and we use them and steward them as tools for kingdom service.
With a tidy and orderly home, we are simply more effective in our helping and loving of others. We are more available because our home is a help and not a hindrance. We are able to pursue hospitality as the Bible commands when our house is in order.
We are living a story, and our home is the stage for that story. The setting, the stage, affects the story itself. So cleaning house does help our final story’s movement toward glory.
Read more about routines and practices that help with housekeeping
- 5 Essential Daily Chores to Prevent Chaos at Home
- Happy Household Help: Be a Homemaker
- EHAP: Afternoon tidying to the rescue
The other posts in this series: