Is it possible to find or create a balance between ministry, family and home? The answer may be very different than you expect.
Reader question: I’m not quite sure how to balance the life of homemaker/wife/mom while still pursuing ministry dreams that God has called me to. Could you please help?
In my years of singleness, when I longed for a husband and children, I never would’ve thought I could ever wrestle with the feeling of wanting to do something other than taking care of my family. But once I got married and my husband and I became parents, I quickly began to feel like I was losing myself.
Used to living a life centered on myself and my own call and desires, it was foreign to feel like I was giving everything up as I became Mommy.
Yet that’s what mothers do – we pour ourselves into our babies as they grow and grow and eventually don’t depend on us quite as much.
The thing was, as much as I felt like I was losing myself, I was actually becoming a better, more selfless version of myself.
When pursuits get complicated
In the middle of that humbling process of selflessness, though, I still had all my gifts, desires, and goals. And as a very driven woman, it was difficult to sit back and think that my opportunities and ministry dreams would be wasted.
So I threw myself in to cultivating a ministry (through blogging!) while my babies napped each afternoon. I loved that I could pour myself into an outlet that I craved for a few hours a day. But it came at a price.
As I pursued my professional dreams I felt the Lord had called me to, I entered an entirely different set of problems to navigate. Instead of solely focusing on my family, I needed to juggle every aspect of my life. Exhaustion and stress set in. And once my children grew and no longer needed naps, all of my built-in ministry time vanished.
The real balancing act
At that time, I needed to decide what I was going to do. That’s when the real balancing act began.
I wanted to be all present when my children were up and about. But I still wanted to pursue my passion. To fit both together, something in my life had to give. And it was my personal time.
While some women relish in the idea and practice of self care, I look at my writing and business as my enjoyment. (And truly, they are both enjoyable and satisfying for me.) I forget about most TV or entertainment, and as an entrepreneur, I try to squeeze work into the random spots of my day.
When other women are out at moms nights out or Bible studies, I’m either tending to my family, my home, or my business. That’s the life of a work-from-home mom.
Yet as I’ve tried to juggle my own three-ring circus, I still sense that something’s not quite right. It’s all too much.
It’s a clear reminder that even if women want to “have it all,” that concept is an absolute impossibility. Utter ridiculousness.
I can try to balance family and business and home and homeschooling … and something will inevitably get short changed. It’s just the nature of real life.
Humans never were meant to perfectly balance jobs AND homes AND families AND ministries perfectly all at the same time. Something always has to give. There are no Superwomen in this world. (Or Supermen.) We’re not meant to leap tall buildings (or tall to-do lists) in a single bound.
Where is your ministry?
It turns out, it took me a while to realize that when I felt like something wasn’t quite right, it’s because it wasn’t. It truly IS too much to care for your family while managing a home, working and committing to an outside ministry.
And after seeking the guidance of older, wiser women, I was reminded of the truth that you don’t always have to look elsewhere for “ministry.”
So often, women have the tendency to feel that in order to do something meaningful, we have to go out to be used. Go away on a mission trip. Volunteer with a local organization. Head up as many ministries or outreaches as possible at church.
But in looking outside for our mission and ministry, we overlook the amazing ministry we have inside our very own homes. Our husbands need us to help them and complete them. Our children need us to nurture and love them and point them to Jesus.
If and when we’re out in the world, giving huge chunks of time to others, we’re missing out on the ministries where we have the most meaningful impact. We’re more likely to neglect the relationships we desperately need to pour into. We’re forgetting about the souls God has entrusted us to carefully steward. Or at least we’re taking our full attention away from them.
The ministry under your own roof
As the matriarchs of our families and keepers of our homes, it’s vital to remember that they are our most important ministries on this earth. We will never be as influential anywhere else as we will in our homes and as wives and mothers.
This truth goes hand-in-hand with the importance of the teaching and training of women described in Titus 2:3-5:
Older women are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
It’s good to love our husbands and our children. (And since it needs to be taught, it doesn’t always come naturally.) It’s good to work at home.
First Corinthians 7:34 also sheds light on the responsibilities of a wife:
And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.
In this portion of Scripture, the Apostle Paul encourages the unmarried to be concerned about the things of the Lord. Yet a wife focuses on her husband.
Investing in what’s right in front of you
As we’re tempted as wives and mothers to seek for satisfaction and ministry away from our families, we need to remember the truth that we need to be investing in the relationships God has already placed before us as a way to help advance His kingdom.
The people he has given us – as our families – are the very souls that need our influence. Similarly, as wives and moms, we also need their influence.
In some ways, this makes life easy, because we don’t have to get ready to go somewhere else to “do ministry.” We’re already there. But always being surrounded by your ministry can make life harder, too.
It may not seem exciting to do the mundane work of homemaking every single day for your families. But, when done with a joyful attitude and in an attitude to glorify the Lord, anything from laundry to dishes to scrubbing to grocery shopping can be a tremendous ministry. Is it as exciting as hopping the next plane to help with humanitarian need? No. But it’s no less important.
When we do the hard work of living out the gospel day in and day out in our homes with our families, we are being faithful in the unique ministries God has placed in our lives. And one day, in a different season of life, we’ll have plenty of free time and life experience to devote to other ministries the Lord calls us to.
Deciding when to say yes or no to ministry opportunities can be a difficult process. As you’re wrestling with what you should do, I have a few suggestions for you:
1. Pray about it. Pray that the Lord would reveal an answer, and that He would give you discernment.
2. Seek what ministry you need right now. You may be presented with many ministry opportunities. But are you sure they’re right for you? Are they the right opportunities? Is the timing right? Do you notice any red flags or are you struggling with reservations? These might give insight into what is best.
3. Be bold to say yes – or no. Make your decision with confidence, and be ready to follow through. (Let your yes be yes and your no be no.) Don’t be afraid to commit to what the Lord is calling you to … and don’t be afraid to say no to what He is not calling you to.
In my own life, I’m wrestling through the truth that my own family needs me. Because of that, it’s not wrong to say no to other worthwhile ministries and relationships, if it means I’m consciously investing that time into discipling my children and ministering to my husband.
For now, I know I have a very brief season of intensive ministry to these precious souls. Once this season is gone, my children will be off in the world, building into their own ministries. Because of that, now is the time I get to pour myself into them. I can think of no better ministry.
If you’d like more insight about viewing the life and relationship that you’ve been given as your ministry, you’ll love Angie Tolpin’s and Katie Bennett’s sessions in the Balance in Homemaking online conference. Together, they give more than 90 minutes of inspiration and insight.
What are some of your ministry dreams? If you view your family as your most important ministry here on earth, what do you do when approached with other ministry opportunities?
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