Balancing Ministry and Motherhood

Update: Hey girls, I’m reposting this from the archives, because I get this question quite a bit. :) Happy Planning!

 

I received this question yesterday on balancing ministry and children from a lovely reader and thought I would post on this topic.

Q: 1. How can a mom with young children find a balance between serving outside the home and serving her family? I have so many desires to serve, give, volunteer, etc. but right now my young children need so much guidance, teaching, love, training, etc… that I often feel so worn out…

First of all, every Christian mother of young children can relate to this question. Honestly, balance is tricky because it implies that you are trying to hold on to many important and good things and not drop any of them.

Ice Skating with my sweet Hope Elizabeth.

So here are my thoughts on balancing ministry and motherhood:

1. Your husband, kids  and home are your main ministry. When your home is well cared for, and your children are obedient and happy, and your husband is well loved, the gospel looks attractive to the watching world. For women, this is a hard pill to swallow. Why? Because this culture does not value homemaking. If you raise someone else’s kids, then that is all fine and good, but if you stay home and JUST raise your own, that is thought of as meaningless or a waste of  your life. So sometimes we fall into the trap of filling our lives with the “valuable” jobs/ministries to the detriment of our own family. I am not saying that you should not serve in the church in some capacity. I do think you should use your God given gifts. But God is not going to call you to use your “gifts” to the detriment of your own family. No, God has commanded that the older women teach the younger women how to care well for our families.

2. Levels of commitment to outside ministry change as your family grows. When Peter and I were first married, I was very much involved in helping him with the Youth Programs at our church and with running other activities. But as I had babies, my priorities had to change. While my children were young it was more important to lay the foundations for our  home life and establish “cultural norms” for the Beals home.{We don’t whine when we want something. We don’t bite each other. We don’t yell. You may not disobey mommy and daddy.} My main goals were things like establishing routines, child training, cooking good meals, teaching simple doctrine and character lessons.

When my children were babies, I rarely attended our evening service at church. Why? Because we were in a season of establishing sleeping patterns that are crucial to the newborn. There were times when most of my “outside ministry” came in the form of cooking meals for a sick person while I cooked my own for my family, or having a friend into our home for a Bible study. Hospitality is a wonderful way to minister to others while you have little ones in the home.

I am a big believer in rhythms of life. I use the word rhythms in place of the word routines because it seems more palatable and less “business like”.  But in any case, routines, especially in the young years, bring a sense of stability and comfort to children. They know what to expect. Life is not helter skelter: We rise and get ready for the day. We make our beds. We sit down and eat breakfast together. We read our Bibles together at the table. We read books on the couch or start school. We take a walk or run an errand after lunch.

3. This season of life is not forever. Your home will be quiet and empty some day. Just let that sink in for a moment. Don’t look on these times as useless or less productive for Christ. They are EXTREMELY important times. You are influencing generations right here, right now by what you are doing in your home today.

I would encourage you to pray and evaluate your own situation.(You may be able to handle more ministries outside the home  than I was able to.) Of course, I don’t have all the answers and I have struggled to maintain balance as well.

Some indicators that I used for our family: (again, just my opinion, not biblical mandates)

*If your family is too busy to have family meals together because of ministry, you are too busy. So much is learned at mealtimes.

*If you are struggling with discipline/bad attitudes/serious character flaws with one  child, I would suggest pulling away from extras/ministry for a while to minister to your struggling child. I want to help my own child first, then someone else’s child second.

*Establish GO days and STAY days if you can. Kids like time to be home and in their element. It is easy to run aimlessly in our run here, run there society. Sometime quiet times of rest and a slow pace produces more than hustling and bustling about.

Here is a post about how I prioritize our lives: here

Here’s what works for me! Seeing my priorities written out each week helps me live the life I know I want to live. If I don’t plan, of course, I fail at my ideal priorities.

I wrote my priorities in order on the left, with lines so that I can fill in what specifically want to plan that week. It helps me visualize what I am doing with my time. As I pencil in my week, I can see where we are out of balance or lacking. I have given this to countless women who asked for help keeping life in balance! ——–> PRINTABLE —>Weekly Priorities

Hope this helps!

Need some help with time management? Consider this 30 page ebook, Tell Your Time that gets rave reviews, and is written by one of my FAVORITE bloggers, Amy.

21 comments

  1. Beautifully stated. When my babies came along, I stepped down from several “church” ministries – piano playing, Sunday School teaching, choir, etc., because they were extremely time consuming and left me frazzled as a mother. Now that they are older, I feel the freedom to put myself back into these ministries.

  2. I needed this so badly today– thank you, thank you!

  3. Oh how I love this!
    My guy and I were just talking through this earlier today…
    I find that when I try to do more than He’s allotted for this season, for this time…then I DO NOT have joy-filled days.
    It’s this balance of laying it all at His feet.
    Not wanting family to become an idol, but also valuing this unique time when there is such a huge opportunity to touch these little lives…one that I’ll never be able to reclaim.
    I look back on our baby days and actually wish I’d done less outside the home.
    My ministry outside our home is only as good as the reality of my marriage and the reality of my tone-of -voice that our kiddos have to live with day in and day out.
    Such wisdom in this post friend…

  4. What an EXCELLENT post! Especially as a minister’s wife with two small children, this really hit home. It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to be at your husband’s side on every call he takes, or every “outing” he has to go on in the name of ministry, but our children ARE more important than anyone else in the church or on the street. I would hate to know that I neglected and lost my children for the sake of reaching someone else.

  5. maryormartha says:

    My children are now 9 and 4 and I enjoy finding ways to incorporate them into the ministry, especially by serving others. And I try to use my time at home to minister via the web : )

    Loved all of the advice, especially points 1, 2, and 3 : )

  6. Kim says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! It’s more than I expected and I’m so thankful and grateful you took the time to respond :) thank you for making yourself available to help, encourage and teach! I think that if I’m honest with myself, outside ministries tend to seem more appealing because often they are less mundane than what’s happening at home and there is a “voice” coercing me to something that seems better when you are exactly right that raising our own children is quite counter-cultural. Thanks also for the idea to use my home for ministry – I’ve struggled with this at times since my house never seems in order enough to do much hospitality so maybe that’s where I need to start first! Thank you again and thanks for offering your email address as well!

  7. I relate, all right :)

    I used to struggle (okay, continue to struggle) with saying no what seems like ALL THE TIME to requests to participate in ministry activities–even very normal activities like a weekly Bible Study. I wish the people who recruited mothers of young children to participate in ministry activities would read this post, Sarah!

    Also, when I had my 4th, I finally got over the guilt and dropped a few things mid-stream. I felt terrible, but my home life improved IMMEDIATELY.

  8. Great insights similar to what I’ve learned over my parenting journey. If only I knew and believed years ago that seasons come and go, I would have appreciated the early stages more! But it is not too late for me to learn and so I am putting those lessons into practice now!

    Blessings,
    Lisa

    http://www.moretobe.com

  9. [...] life that we start neglecting our own homes. I wrote about balancing ministry and motherhood here and shared that your main ministry IS your husband, children and home. I also mentioned that when [...]

  10. I second what Mrs. Darcy said: “I wish the people who recruited mothers of young children to participate in ministry activities would read this post…”

    It saddens me that there is SO much pressure on mothers of young children to do more than “just” be a wife, mama, and homemaker. I’m talking about within the church! Either older women have forgotten how busy life is when raising a young family, or they are sadly neglecting their calling to “teach” us how to keep our homes.

    • SJBeals says:

      I think it tends to be because young mothers “CAN” physically do a lot that the older women cannot do. ie. running around, cooking, decorating. And those are all good things, but it is up to us to make sure that family comes first and then others. We don’t want our kids and husbands to have the leftovers of our time and energy.

    • SJBeals says:

      I agree, Kristy. Every mother knows her limits, and there are things that only we can do! Those have to be primary.

  11. [...] Comments « Balancing Ministry and Motherhood [...]

  12. Emily Washer says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been pondering and praying about this very thing lately, especially in regard to getting to know people at the churches we are working with. It is easy to think I might be selfish in some way to spend so much time taking care of my kids instead of reaching out to people at church. I remember my “carefree” college days when I enjoyed spending so much time in ministry opportunities and I feel bad that I’m not so active in outside ministries today. Satan has a way of discouraging even when it is something good, doesn’t he. Thanks for sharing your thoughts & God’s Word! I’m loving this stage of life, but there are sometimes where I have to remind myself that it is only a stage :-)

    • SJBeals says:

      Emily,it is such a struggle, and you are right– Satan does try to make us think we are wasting our lives by JUST raising our babes! And also, I think if we are honest, we also want to be seen as valuable and “doing something great” for God and there is nobody clapping their hands for us or praising us for a diaper well changed! ha,ha BUT, God sees! And you are doing a great job caring for your kids and being a great example of caring for your kids so that your husband can do what God has called him to do. Miss you!

  13. [...] is also important to serve together as a family. Again, hospitality is a great way to train your children to serve [...]

  14. Hi!
    A wonderful post…I wrote on a somewhat similar topic today about rushing less with toddlers. It helped me to read your second tip…after becoming a mom I gave up being a leader in a mostly nighttime meeting organiziation…nothing about it seemed to fit me anymore…it was hard to do. I love your concept of rhythms as well…also love Amy’s book-became an affiliate myself! Great strategies I am trying. I printed out your planner and that looks more streamlined for me…trying it out this week! I’m in need of something!

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Glad it was helpful. Yes, seasons and rhythms are part of life. I have a friend who is entering the empty nest…and is getting more involved in outside ministries now. It is always a blessing to see in tact, godly families who are normal because the parents really sacrificed their dreams for the kids.

  15. Sarah Avila says:

    Wonderful post! I had to stop by (from Time Warp Wife link up) when I saw the name of your blog! My blogs names is My Joy-Filled Life!

    And I just noticed that you are a Sarah too!

    Blessings to you,
    Sarah

Leave a Reply