I’ve wondered for years now how to mix motherhood and ministry well. How to balance my serving and giving outside my home while faithfully doing the same inside. Thankfully, I’m finding a bit of clarity here.
“Did you hear what she said, mom? He takes broken things and makes them beautiful! That’s what your mug says, isn’t it, mom?”
He’s four and he noticed. He’s connecting the dots of his environment lately and those very dots led him here.
Last weekend I helped lead a retreat called Beautifully Broken. I spoke in 3 sessions of the retreat and preparations leaked into my home. Planning spilled from spreadsheets into the sacred ground of my family’s habitat and the excitement, the stress, the weight of it all couldn’t help but be felt by those nearest to me.
I commandeered a Spotify playlist and filled it with music my heart and mind needed as I prepared and the tunes became the soundtrack of our very lives for the past few weeks. My kids overheard conversations about journal orders and name tags. Daddy whisked them away for an afternoon so mommy could have time to prepare and study and write out the messages she needed to convey.
And part of me felt guilty.
It’s an old and tired battle that exposed itself early on in motherhood and re-surfaces from time to time. Masked a little differently, the root is the same. I occasionally wonder where the line is between giving and serving, between meeting needs at home and needs outside my doors.
What does balance look like and how do I not feel like I’m not robbing someone, anyone, everyone?
I’m guessing you’ve been there too – juggling passions and calling and serving and ministry with the proper care and feeding of the people you are most directly responsible for.
Thankfully, I’m not as fragile here as I once was, not as vulnerable to the lies that creep in.
Because I’m learning a few things about how to mix motherhood and ministry. It looks something like this.
Learning to Mix Motherhood and Ministry
I pray over every decision.
I was never meant to walk alone, to live out my passions alone, to give and serve alone. If I’m not trusting God to lead me, weighing out my decisions with Him, then I’m missing the greatest Source of hope and clarity. Praying over every decision allows me to say yes and no with certainty (Matthew 5:37) and to step bravely.
I sort out every decision with my husband.
This probably looks nothing like the picture you have in your head. Nothing like the pictures you’ve seen on the movies or the image you pinned on Pinterest. Sometimes it’s awkward and sometimes we disagree. Sometimes it feels like we are fighting for competing interests or selfish interests (because let’s face it, we’re all competitive or selfish at times). But it always gets us to where we need to be, our thoughtful discussions lead us to focus on the priorities we proclaim for our marriage and family.
This may be the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 15 years of marriage. Sorting out decisions with the one I’ve chosen to journey side by side with, has been life giving. Notice I didn’t say easy, because sometimes it’s not. But reaching authentic agreement affords us freedom in the decisions we make. When we’re both on the same page we get to move forward guilt-free.
I weigh decisions based upon my priorities as a mother.
What do you want your kids to see in you? It’s a question worth asking. Do you want them to see a mother who dotes over them? A mother who makes time for them? One who makes fabulous meals or throws beautiful birthday parties? A mom who faithfully serves the broken world around her? There is nothing wrong with any of that. I challenge you to take a minute to write out your top 5 priorities of what you would like to your children to see in you and then honestly ask yourself if your life, if how you spend your time, reflects that?
If I say that my priorities are God, my husband and my children, then my decisions better be vetted through a process that advocates that.
Weighing decisions carefully has been invaluable to me, but there is one crucial thing I have had to give up.
I don’t compartmentalize.
When I began writing a couple years ago I believed this was fully possible. Dedicated to becoming a master at compartmentalization, I intended to write solely in the dark hours while my children were sleeping. I thought I could park my heart and mind there, close my laptop and be solely their mom in the daylight. But that isn’t realistic. Not all writing tasks can be wrapped up by 6:45 am, sometimes retreat planning phone calls need to be made during business hours and sometimes inspiration strikes at 2:15 pm and I need to take a few minutes to spill it on paper, before it vaporizes. Ask any writer, this is a real thing.
The truth is, our children know what we love. As well they should. Our passions will naturally bleed out into our families just as our family will shape our calling. It’s all one and the same.
My greatest freedom has been found in not trying so hard to separate the two.
Let the lines cross, let the barriers fall. Make motherhood the work of ministry and let ministry bleed into your home, into your life. It is all one. There are no separate baskets. We are living this one life to glorify Him so let’s be creative with it, vibrant with it.
Shortly after I returned home from the retreat last weekend we found ourselves in the car running errands, all 6 of us. And somehow we fell into a discussion of identity, moments when we feel like failures. In an instant all of my retreat messages came rushing to me – breaking up with brokenness – how Naomi wanted to change her name to Mara but her identity in Christ never changed, how we can offer our brokenness up to Christ and allow him to redeem every square inch of it.
The words I offered over the weekend, the messages I’d been preparing for weeks were on the tip of my tongue and I began serving them in small doses to my children. I started telling the very same stories and passing on truth, in bite-sized pieces, to them.
That was ministry bleeding out into my home – the calling and the passion God has given me spilling over into the very ministry of motherhood as well.
This is the key to guilt-free ministry and motherhood.
Sometimes guilt still tempts me, but the work I put into choosing what I say yes to helps alleviate guilt in the outcome.
Does this mean I nail every decision? Definitely not, but it helps me better understand how I got there and use each decision as a learning tool for the future
Does this mean we can do it all? No, of course not. There are limits to serving and giving and even mothering. When we’ve crossed the line or our priorities get out of balance we need to rest and re-group. I am sure we’ve all been there too. But it does mean that we can do both – we can serve and live and give. We can blur the lines of motherhood and ministry. We can let our hearts, our passions and our callings bleed into one glorious mix, offering it all up bravely for His glory.
What about you? How do you work to balance your mix motherhood and ministry?
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