My husband and I have been in student ministry since 3 weeks before we said “I do”. Being a youth pastor’s wife is the only thing that I’ve ever known, and it’s been a wonderful adventure of seeing God at work.
I jumped in with both feet as a youth pastor’s wife. I love students just as much as my husband does, so I’ve been serving alongside him in student ministry since day 1. In our pre-kid days, if there was a Wednesday night service I was there, if we were taking the youth to camp, I went too. I even trekked with them on a 19 hour bus ride to New Hampshire and a one-day, whirlwind trip in NYC. Goodness, I have never been so glad to be off of a bus and see the SC state line in my life. But like I said, those were in our pre-kid days.
Now we have two toddler boys (and I love them both to pieces and wouldn’t trade them for the world!), and I’ve caught myself saying things like, “I just can’t serve like I used to,” and while it’s true that the way that I serve in the local church has changed, the fact that I can and should serve has not changed.
Sunday was an extra crazy day when it came to balancing our boys with ministry. To be honest, I was getting frustrated. Isaac was refusing to nap, and so I was rocking my squirmy toddler in between studying chapters of Esther for small groups. But it was in the moments of rocking that the Lord worked on my mama heart, and dear friend, I would love to share with you some of the things that He encouraged me with that day.
The Lord gave me one of the sweetest gifts in making me a mom. He has given me an indescribable type love for my children. But the Lord has also given me other gifts. The love for these gifts is obviously quite different than the love that I have for my children, but still, He has given me a desire to work with students, write, teach, etc. If you’re a believer in Christ, I’m sure that you could tell me things that you’re passionate like, working with children or doing acts of service. And if you’re honest, I’m sure that, like me, you’ve struggled at some point with the balance of loving your family well but also using these other gifts that the Lord has given you for His glory. As I rocked Isaac, the Lord reminded me that He is the one who gave me ALL of these gifts- motherhood, the love of writing, the desire to work with students, etc. When He made me a mom, He didn’t forget about the other ways that He had equipped me to serve Him. The Lord knows that He gifted me in being a mom, and He knows that He has gifted me in other ways too. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels good to just feel known.
I get these “perfect” visions in my head of what serving the Lord should look like- studying uninterrupted in my comfy chair, managing my time better in how many chapters a week my group should study, etc. But these “perfect” visions rarely come to pass. My serving actually winds up looking a lot more imperfect and chaotic than it does perfect and calm. It looks like having youth girls over for Bible study while my toddler spills Goldfish all over the floor or having to text a friend that the dinner I’m making her will be late because my oven decided to act up. I’m sure that you can relate and that you’ve had your own share of mishaps. But the Lord reminded me that it is in our weaknesses that He is made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). If we excelled perfectly and didn’t have any human limitations in all that we did, then why would we need to depend on the Lord? Isn’t He much more glorified when we imperfectly show up to serve and yet wonderful things still happen for His glory? It’s in those moments when we know that it MUST be the Lord at work, and that’s exactly how He wants it. Our serving will not ever look picture perfect, no matter what season of life we’re in, and that’s okay.
The Lord also encouraged me with this on Sunday- it is GOOD for our children to see us serving (and to serve with us if possible). I’m a product of parents who brought me with them as they served, and I’m forever grateful. So, it’s GOOD for my boys to see me studying the Word to teach it. It’s GOOD for your children to see you welcoming other children into a Sunday school class with brightly painted walls. Our children learn so much by what we model for them, and if we want them to one day serve the local church, then we must model this for them now. There’s also many ways that you can have your children to not only watching you serve, but serving with you. They can help you in a greeting ministry, they can learn to give up “their spot” on the couch for visitors coming over (not that I’ve had to have this conversation… ha!), they can help make desserts for a new mom, and much more.
Mamas, our ministry starts in our homes. Our ministry is first to our children and family. We wake up everyday right in the middle of a mission field of babies and toddlers that need to know Jesus. But there’s a mission field outside of our doors too, and even though we are in a super crazy season of motherhood, we must not forget about what’s going on outside of our walls. The Lord has uniquely equipped you with gifts to edify the local church and to make His name known. He sees you. He knows you and how He has equipped you, and remember, He is most glorified in our weaknesses.
Last Sunday was a crazy one. I honestly thought that I was going to have to go to my small group and admit that I didn’t get to finish studying because Isaac wouldn’t nap. If I had to have done that, that would have been okay. Rocking our babies is good work too, mamas. But somehow, by God’s grace, the studying got done, although I still went to small group feeling unprepared. But ya know what? God was strong in my weakness. We had God-glorifying discussion and lots of laughs. It was probably my one of my favorite nights with my group, and I left there knowing that it only went well because of the Lord. It was nothing that I did. Isaac was so exhausted that He finally fell asleep on the way home from church Sunday night. And I was physically exhausted too. But I also ended Sunday night with this deep joy and excitement for the Lord. I’ve decided that’s one of the best feelings to have- physically exhausted from doing good work but spiritually pumped up because of what God is doing. He’s doing so much, so much that I don’t want to miss out on. I am forever grateful for how the Lord speaks to us and uses us for His glory. May He continue to be glorified in our weaknesses!