“I’d love to get involved, but I just don’t have the time because of my kids’ commitments.”
“I mainly serve in the children’s ministry, because it’s convenient. After all, my kids are involved, so it’s a good fit for now.”
“Someday I will get to do more in ministry, but for now, I just have to push aside my own opportunities to focus on being a mom.”
“My kids are my ministry.”
The statements might differ slightly. So might the tones in which they’re spoken. Some moms are defensive. Some rationalize or apologetically excuse themselves. Some want to make someone else feel better, or make themselves feel better. Sometimes moms feel guilty, impatient, or frustrated about their lack of involvement.
I get it. I’ve survived many seasons of motherhood. Each season presents moms with choices. We’re on individual journeys, so our choices look different at times. That’s okay. However, let’s be honest—with ourselves and each other. We’re often not as intentional about our choices as we want to believe we are. Motherhood doesn’t push aside ministry. It impacts ministry, even invites us into ministry, but motherhood doesn’t always isolate and separate us. We have moments of motherhood that feel lonely, chaotic, overwhelming, or limiting, but those moments don’t define who we are or what can we do, including ministry.
Motherhood no more defines who you are than it determines what you can and can’t do.
How can you invite ministry into your life even as motherhood bombards you?
1. See ministry as an invitation, not an obligation.
Ministry isn’t optional, but when we stress the obligation of it, we cloud our perspective. We let guilt distract us. Instead of focusing on the purpose of ministry, we see it as something we have to fit into our busy schedules. Ministry isn’t a task; it can’t be reduced to meetings and events. We shouldn’t treat ministry like a shopping list that we conquer with precision. Ministry is a meandering pathway of opportunities through which we get to interact with and impact people. In turn, they affect us, too.
Sometimes you’ll be involved in a structured ministry. You’ll struggle to fulfill the obligations, but your commitment is important. You fit into a puzzle along with many people’s pieces. Other times, you’ll experience ministry in everyday interactions and experiences with others. Beware of seeing ministry from only one perspective. It doesn’t have to fit your expectations.
Ask God what ministry looks like for you today. Then, ask Him again tomorrow. Refuse to stay in a rut (unless God keeps you there for a season, in which case, I believe you’ll learn some important lessons along the way). Diligently watch for the invitations He’s extending to you. You’ll begin to see opportunities in surprising places. You’ll find that ministry is more like an ever-changing kaleidoscope than a static work of art you hang on your wall for so many years you almost forget the details of it.
2. See the purpose of preparation.
You won’t always know the purpose of something. You might feel stuck at times, especially spiritually. Even though you appreciate being a mom, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or perhaps you don’t want to go through the tunnel. At least you are familiar with how things are now; moving on means change, and you’re not sure it will be positive change. Either way, “now” and “someday” seem far apart.
Even when you don’t see change, it’s happening. You have opportunities all the time. In addition to choices about your schedule and priorities, you continually choose your attitudes and reactions. With each opportunity comes preparation. God uses our situations of today to prepare us for tomorrow. We usually don’t see the connection and purpose. We brush aside the significance of a casual conversation or a forgiving word. We might also brush aside the significance of a judgmental stare or accusatory blame. Each choice prepares us for opportunities to minister to people in the future. Each choice is an act of ministry in the present. Stay alert, and choose well.
3. See motherhood as part of the whole.
Being a mom is a blessing, but it doesn’t define you. You were not always a mom. Your role, even now, is constantly shifting. God has purposed your entire life. Everything doesn’t revolve around motherhood—even though it might feel like it at times. The most important relationship of your life is the one you have with God. When your focus on Him, life doesn’t always make sense, but when you let anything else become the cornerstone of your life, it makes even less sense!
You don’t have to choose between motherhood and ministry. You simply have to choose God’s best for what is in front of you right now.
Motherhood no more defines who you are than it determines what you can and can’t do. Of course, it influences the decisions you make; you wouldn’t be a responsible mom if you didn’t take your role seriously! But being bombarded by the joys, fears, pressures, disappointments, pain, exhaustion, questions, and expectations of motherhood isn’t intended to be as consuming as it feels at times.
Be honest about your feelings and experiences as a mom, but keep your perspective in the context of God. Your kids don’t define who you are, God does. He knows your gifts, abilities, insecurities, and possibilities, and He wants to use all those aspects of you to minister to others and to invite others to minister to you. You fit together with others, and that “fit” includes your children. You don’t have to choose between them and others.
You don’t have to choose between motherhood and ministry. You simply have to choose God’s best for what is in front of you right now. Then choose again…and again and again. As you seek and trust Him, your choices will change and you will grow, because that’s how God parents us. Refuse to stay the same as your own kids grow. Minister to them, and minister to others. Don’t stress the details of how it all fits together. Simply be obedient and trust God. He knows what He’s doing.