Laboring for a Lifetime: 4 Insights from Debby Maschhcoff

Before we dive into the post from Debby, here is a short introduction:

It seems that people who are creative always seem to find a way to create.  Similarly, people who are great hosts and/or hostesses always seem to figure out how to throw a killer party.  So it is with laborers as described in Matthew 9…they always seem to figure out how to labor.  Debby Maschhoff – our mother/mother-in-law – no matter where she has lived or what season of life she’s found herself in, has always found a way to labor.  She always has someone she is investing in and usually someone who doesn’t know the Lord that she is praying for and lovingly trying to draw towards Christ.  Not only has she labored, she is always leading those around her into it as well!  This includes her children and grandchildren.  Time spent with Grandma over a lollipop always is filled with her sharing and modeling the love of Jesus.  She is one of the greatest leaders and thinkers we have known, with a forever expanding heart for people and for her Jesus.  We will always look up to her and thank God for her.  We pray her words encourage you and spur you on as they have us.

With you,

Joy and Joe Maschhoff

Hi, I’m Debby Maschhoff! Together with my husband Lee, we have been with The Navigators for about 45 years. We have been with Navs all these years for three reasons:

  1. The call of God
  2. The lives of the people we were seeing – the Advocaats, the DeHaans, Lorne Sanny, the Eimes, the Mayhalls, the Greys. Unbelievable lives! (Some of these were close personal friends and some were conference speakers many times who we didn’t know well personally but deeply impacted us.) 
  3. The vision of the Navs – Multiplying Disciples

Being a Navigator woman has been quite an experience. I have seen and experienced changed lives including my own. I have a personal testimony on the faithfulness of God on meals, provision, house payments, cars, kids, etc. We have 5 children who went to college, and have helped put on 5 weddings—never wealthy but enough. Now in old age I have more freedom with money than I ever had before. Amazing.

Also, the lives I have seen, and the power of the Holy Spirit in lives has been thrilling. AND I didn’t see it as we were going through it but now in hindsight –praise His Name. 45 years later we see the early disciples retiring with full lives themselves—overseas missionaries, leaders in The Navigators and churches, dynamic lay ministries. Who else gets such opportunities?  Yes, much of it came with tears, moves, leaving friends and family, tight budget, some teenage heartbreak, etc., but the Lord was so gracious and good in every case (looking back!).

I have learned that I can never coast. I must be vigilant—even at 76. 

“Whom have in heaven but Thee? And there is nothing I desire on earth but Thee.  My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”Ps 73:25,26

I need a firm conviction that He is holding on to me! John 15:16. WE NEED TO BE SECURE—in my ministry, my marriage, my mothering. Therefore, our attitude can be, “I can learn. I can be taught.”  It is not a threat to me to learn, to be taught, to be rebuked. Why?  Because I am secure with the One who counts. He loves me perfectly—right now—this minute. He’s not going to love me more tomorrow when I get my act together, when I get it all figured out, when I do everything right.  He loves me perfectly NOW.”

Now I want to talk to you dear women, and you are dear women—the salt of the earth; I want to talk to you about laboring for a lifetime. There is probably a list somewhere of 150 things you need to have to do this for a lifetime but I just want to share 4 of them with you that I think are crucial.

1. Choose JESUS—It is all About Jesus  

  • Know Jesus more and more
  • Love Jesus more and more
  • Don’t outgrow Him
  • Don’t fine tune Him out of your discipling plans
  • Spend a lot of time with Him—alone and with others
  • Work at Jesus being your first thought in the morning
  • Say goodnight to Him at night
  • Let His blood run thru your life! Your thoughts, attitudes, even appearance
  • Know more and more the transaction that took place on the cross
  • Realize the power of the resurrection and promised Holy Spirit
  • See how He did life, death, loved, witnessed
  • Find Messiah in Old Testament
  • Seek Him, rely on Him
  • See His grace and mercy
  • Talk to Him about everything


2. Choose to be a WOMAN OF THE BOOK   

  • A choice before you—either walk by faith in what we KNOW HE SAID or by feelings in what I think He meant or wanted to say. Examples of this in the present day may be homosexuality, marriage, view of women, women’s “rights”. Exactly what does the Bible say?
  • Jer 15:16—Having a daily time with the Lord is not a law or a hoop to jump thru, but a total privilege! Time with Jesus, devotional time and scripture memory. Have you decided to never quit? You may have missed a month or two, or a year, but are you committed to never quit? Are you ready to get back on track? It may not be the formula for a life filled with Jesus, but I personally do not know of an older godly woman who hasn’t spent a lot of time with Jesus.
  • You don’t want to live without the promises of God. To live as a Nav wife and not spend time with Jesus and His Word—What a waste.  There are promises for you in Jer., Is.,Lev., Mark, Hab., and 61 other books. 
  • Be in the Book day after day, year after year until you see His face. Don’t miss out.
  • Let NOTHING deter you—children, marriage, ministry, roommates, new location, joys, sorrows.  Find time for Jesus and His Word


  • Foundational verses for me in this area are Is. 26:3 and Ps.112:7(Living)
  • Life gets harder and harder (but wait!). Life also gets better and better. Now at 76 I should know more and more what it means to “enter His rest.”
  • Ps 103:7 “He made know His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” You have every opportunity to be a Moses and know the WAYS of God and not live from act to act like the children of Israel.
  • The question to ask here is, “Is Jesus enough for me today and forever?”  If He isn’t, there is no lasting peace. Jesus owes us nothing! He has already given His best, He gave us His all and now we have the promised Holy Spirit. He is a debtor to no one. Yet this Jesus loves us perfectly and is there for us at all times.
  • In John 16:16-21 we see the dark waves for “Jesus had not yet come.” The winds were blowing and they were frantically rowing. The winds of cancer, no money, singleness, barrenness, hard marriage, disease, aging, dying, or  disappointments in being a mother, rebellion, etc. Then they heard, “IT IS I.  DO NOT BE AFRAID.” They took Him in and immediately the boat was at land—the storm was still raging, but THEY were safe.  Other times He may say ”Peace be still” and the storm is over.
  • Be satisfied with Christ alone. Remember, dear sister, God is more concerned with your inner character development than with your outer contentment. We so want a “happy spirit” to make us happy. But Our Father sends us His Holy Spirit to make us holy.
  • Settle your source of contentment.  

4. Choose to be a WOMAN OF ENDURANCE

  • Col 1:11 “Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience.”  Settle that you will endure until you die. You WILL walk with God and you WILL labor for Him all your life.  Maybe not with The Navs, but you will labor;
Where ever you are
Where ever you live
Where ever your life
What ever you do
  • Tests will come, big and bigger—tests of leadership decisions, husband decisions, a confusing headquarters decision, —all of these have a real potential for bitterness. Bitterness will sideline you and those around you. I’ve have had some real battles here and lost.  One of the worst verses in the Bible is about Ahab and Jezabel,  “She incited Ahab to do evil”. (1 Kings 21:25).  I have been a Jezabel. WE HAVE THAT POWER. Oh my dear sisters, don’t lay awake worrying about the power of women. We have power.  We need to know what it means and how to use it in a godly way. You have power to influence your husband To heal or incite. Bitterness, comparisons, bad attitudes just are there lurking, ready to pounce.  Recognize it, confess it, and move on to a big life with God.
  • Also, endure by obeying His final command. “Go make disciples.”  What is there not to get? 
  • Commit to at least ONE woman—You have time for One—even a mom of seven kids has time for one. Even your children need to see you do that and you can count it as part of your training them!!!

Debby Maschhoff

Lollipops with Grandson Augie

Debby and Lee have been married for 55 years. She is the mother of Joe (wife Joy) Maschhoff and Liz Hess (John is her husband). They also have three other wonderful children: Erika, Tom, and Kristine and 16 grandchildren. She came to Christ when she was 29 through a friend. Shortly after, they moved to Purdue where Lee came to Christ. The Navigators were there to help them grow and give them training. They had four children at the time between the ages of 0 and 7. Of that season she says, “What amazing years those were!” 

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