Have you ever gone months plowing through diapers and dishes, not even having the perspective or energy to consider how God might involve you in His rescue mission?
Have you ever felt a nagging question mark in your heart when you're ministering outside the home at the cost of the mission field in your own living room?
It's no secret that I love my job. I've spent ten years meeting with college women and sharing with them the joy of knowing Jesus and it has been 100% amazing. As much as I love the lifestyle of vocational ministry, I'm also a mom and every single week I am trying to figure out how to do the hokey pokey of motherhood + ministry.
Each season is a new dance with steps to learn and discern. What does my husband need? What do my kids need? What does the ministry need? And, what in the world do I need (Besides needing a full-time house keeper, a weekly massage, and an intravenous Red Bull drip...can you relate??)?
There are lots of partial solutions in this sweet season of life, plenty of hunkering down and plenty of swinging open our doors. Lots of trials, and errors, and coming to terms with the fact that if I commit to meeting with students during the precious hours my kids are at school, the scrambled eggs will still be on the kitchen floor come bedtime. If my husband is slated to preach, the social calendar will need to be frozen until further notice. Missional mommas must maintain healthy, holistic, realistic boundaries...(And, it turns out, boundaries are actually more enjoyable than they initially let on to be!).
But, what I'm finding is that this is more than a scheduling issue. For me, this is a heart issue.
Motherhood is ministry, and it's my fierce passion. But sometimes it's easier (and more fun) for me to overwork "out there" because there is a clear-cut clock to punch and box to check. It's measurable and it's gratifying (Interestingly enough, oftentimes, I'm actually a sweeter, more intentional mom for my kids after I've spent time ministering outside the home!). Then again, there are times when I neglect the mission of ministry because it's far simpler for me to zone out and troll around at home than it is to check in with the soul of another. On both sides of my treasured motherhood + ministry coin there is an issue of fear; and that fear is rooted in a false view of God.
Small God = Big Problems
My workaholic heart fails to believe that God is big enough and strong enough to do all the things needed to sustain "my" family and "my" ministry; and instead, believes He is clearly dependent upon "my quality performance." Meanwhile, my disengaged heart fears that my casual comfort is far greater (and safer, tidier, and more relaxing) than the place God is calling.
Neither place of unbelief produces the Spirit-led ability to work heartily as unto the Lord while being still and knowing that He is God. Neither side truly believes that He will be exalted among the nations through the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.
I want my kids to see, touch, taste, and smell that the mission of our family is to share the love of Jesus with the college students of the world. I want them to see, and believe, and enjoy that this life is not all about them, without them feeling neglected. This, I pray (and most days believe), is good for them, their worldview, and the foundation of their faith. I want my kids and those to whom I am ministering to know that my greatest joy is to love, disciple, and care for my family...knowing that if I win at ministry and fail to shepherd the hearts in my home, I've lost at it all. And, at times, that takes more faith-producing discipline, humility, and dependence on the Lord than a campus outreach requires.
No two mom/child/career/marriage situations are the same. We all have different equations which means there is no "ONE RIGHT FORMULA" for the home ministry + other ministry/work combo.
Sometimes the faith step is to hunker down and do some serious work on the home front in marriage, supporting my husband, training wild children, and serving extended family. Sometimes, the faith step is to trust God with all of these things and step out in faith to move towards ministry...accept speaking engagements, open our home, coordinate mission trips, etc.
Maybe you feel this similar tension in your various roles?
A wise friend challenged me to ask myself a few questions during my time with the Lord. I thought I'd share them if by chance they help others living in the same tension.
1. Am I operating out of fear and over-protecting home life because I think it's all up to me?
2. Am I operating out of fear and over-committing to ministry and life outside the home because I think it's all up to me?
3. What faith step can I take in the face of that fear?
Just One Step Of Faith.
Because if we take one faith step -->
God takes our meager offering and multiplies it, growing us in the process -->
which leads to us trusting Him with another faith step -->
which leads to God doing even bigger things in and through us.
To the mom sitting at home, overwhelmed and doing well to be nursing her baby and reading this at the same time, be encouraged....just take one faith step towards ministry (even if it's committing one nap time to prayer). To the over-committed mom, avoiding the "hard" at home in marriage and child-rearing, be encouraged...just one faith step towards family.
Here's what I am praying for those of us who are living in the tension and asking God for our one step of faith:
"Lord, may our mothering make us better Gospel-centered ministers and may our ministering make us better Gospel-centered mothers. May we be graciously content with what you call us and equip us to do today."
Because on the days when by the Spirit's power, doing ministry outside these four walls makes me a better mom, I am convinced that a life of Motherhood + Ministry -- though it feels as awkward as the Hokey Pokey -- really is what it's all about.
What about you? Where do you need to take a step of faith to counter the fear in your heart?