She was four when I started taking her to the Delta Gamma house with me. My little tag along. Sometimes she would watch American Idol with the girls in the TV room. Sometimes she would sneak off to one of their rooms for a sweet treat. Sometimes she would join me for a chapter meeting or meet me with the girls at Starbucks. I was an advisor for the chapter and I really loved those girls. And so did Madison.
She knew I was more than just an advisor. She knew my heart was for them. She heard me give them boy advice; saw me start a Bible study with a few of them; joined me in praying for them; went with me to cookouts and other fun events with them. One time, I even overheard her in the TV room telling one of them that the dancer on American Idol needed to do a better job of “protecting her modesty.”
That season of life was a fun one for us - ministering to college women as a team.
It's one I think back to often when women ask me about balancing motherhood and ministry.
To be honest, I don’t think there IS a great way to balance motherhood and ministry. Because I think we’re asking the wrong question when we go at it from that angle.
It assumes a few things. First, it assumes that ministry and motherhood are mutually exclusive. It also assumes that ministry is event- or building-centered. Lastly, it chops life up into categories.
I think all three of those are false assumptions.
Ministry is not a compartment in my life. Ministry is a way of life. A way of thinking. It's not something I do. It's an outworking of who I am.
Here's why: I have been loved on by the God of the Universe. Me. I don't deserve His love. Haven't done a thing to merit His favor. In fact, I've done the opposite. I've thrown temper tantrums and rebelled against His ways and pretty much slapped Him in the face. And what did He do in response to my scorn? He scooped me up anyway, took all my junk on Himself, paid for the mess I had created, and adopted me into His family. He did that. For me.
And, what's more. When He adopted me, He gave me a new identity and a new purpose. He gave me a reason for living that goes beyond my selfish vision. He lifted my head up and showed me a broken, hurting world full of more people that He'd like to adopt. People He's been loving since the day He knit their tiny forms together in their mamas' wombs. But, they are people who've never heard about His love and mercy and truth. They don't know that Abba wants to scoop them up too - right in the middle of their mess. It's never occurred to them that He rejoices over them and longs for them.
There's nothing to "balance" about that. Because it's not an activity. It's my life. Ministry is telling other people about my wonderful Abba and helping them understand Him and grow closer to Him.
That can look a lot of different ways in a lot of different situations. Sometimes, that's serving in the nursery on Sunday morning so that sweet babies can be held by people who love them and tired mamas can go be reminded of truth. Sometimes it's serving at a local food pantry or sponsoring a child in Costa Rica. Sometimes it's shoveling the driveway of an elderly neighbor or starting a Bible study with other ladies from your kids' school. Sometimes it's being a safe place for the kids in your neighborhood to hang out. Sometimes it's just cleaning toilets so that home is a refuge for all who enter.
But, don't assume it has to compete with motherhood.
Your kids need to see you giving your life away beyond the doors of your home.
Yes, your children are your ministry. But, they're not your only ministry. Being a mom is part of what God has called you to. Once He adopted you, you became His representative in a desperate world. His ambassador and discipler. My kids are two of those disciples. They are the two I spend the most time with right now but they aren't the only two people God has called me to love and serve.
Besides, I'm convinced that it's good for our kids to know that life doesn't revolve around them.
In fact, they can join us in ministry. Like Madison did when I went on campus. Don't try to balance motherhood and ministry. Fold your kids into the ministry to which God has already called you. If it's done with joy and vision, they might just want to do it too...
an Ambassador for my Abba,
This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom.
Please check the series page for all of the posts!