This was originally published on LifeWay Girls, though there are a few edits with things such as my boys’ ages (they were 5 and 3 when I originally wrote this! Time flies!).
I took on the role of youth pastor’s wife the minute I said, “I do,” and I count it a privilege to serve alongside my husband. I had no idea what I was doing, but I dove in head first. From eighteen hour bus rides to Wednesday night services, if there was a youth event, I was there. About two and a half years into marriage and ministry, our first son was born, and suddenly, I had motherhood to navigate along with ministry. We now have two sons, ages 7 and 5 (and are adopting our daughter from India!), and though I’m a work in progress in both motherhood and ministry, the Lord has been gracious to teach me along the way.
The truth is, all believers are called to ministry. Some of us are married to a pastor, leading a small groups, or serving in another way. Either way, balancing motherhood and ministry can be a challenge for us all. We’re often tempted to believe motherhood and ministry are at odds with one another, but that’s simply not true. We don’t have to choose motherhood or ministry, but rather, both of these can and should intertwine. From the start of parenthood, my husband and I had the philosophy to bring our kids along in the mission with us. Yes, our highest priority is to disciple our children, but instead of centering our home around them, we believe bringing them alongside us is one of the discipleship tools God gives us. This can look many different ways, but here are a few practical ways we intertwine the gifts of motherhood and ministry:
- We invite students into our home. Students come over for weekly Bible studies, discipleship weekends, or study sessions. What I love about this is that it allows our students and children to experience “real” life with us. Our students watch as we handle discipline moments with our children, and our children watch as we lead students in Bible study. We can be fearful to open our homes because, let’s be honest, discipline moments aren’t always handled perfectly, and sometimes toys are scattered all over the floor. However, I believe allowing students this peek into our lives is a discipleship tool that’s worth it. Though things will be imperfect, students can see firsthand how an imperfect mom walks with Jesus in her everyday life, not just when she’s at church on Sundays.
- We take our children with us. There are some events our children simply can’t come to yet, but when possible, we know it’s good for our children to be with us. Our children serve alongside our students in local mission projects, come with me to take meals to new moms, and cheer on our students at sporting events. Does bringing two energetic boys to a mission project or sporting event make it a bit more work? Definitely! But is this sacrifice and extra effort worth it? Yes! Our boys have a blast, but more importantly, I pray this teaches them that serving Jesus is simply what our family does. I pray this will eventually grow them into men who view serving Jesus as a part of everyday, normal life.
- We enlist babysitters for help. We’re blessed to have family willing to help us, and they’re a huge part of our ministry, but I know this piece of encouragement won’t necessarily apply to everyone. However, for those with trustworthy family or friends close by, don’t be afraid to occasionally ask them for help so you can be involved! Since I can’t be at every trip or event, I usually pick my favorite (summer camp with our students) to ask for overnight babysitting help with. Often, that trip to summer camp or an evening worship service is exactly the refreshment my soul needs so I can continue serving my family well.
- I’ve learned serving in my home is also valuable in the Kingdom. Satan tempts us to believe valuable service to God has to be seen, and that leading Bible studies is more valuable than serving our families in the mundane. Ladies, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Our first ministry is to our families, and we honor God when we serve them, even in the most unseen ways. Cooking dinner, doing laundry, and sweeping crumbs are just as much Kingdom work as any other type of ministry. As moms, we can’t always hop on the plane to Haiti, but there are many other ways to “go” while staying. We can be prayer warriors, encouragers, fundraisers, and more. If we let Satan’s lies creep in during these seasons, we’ll miss out on beautiful opportunities to joyfully love on our families.
Truthfully, we must get creative and stop seeing life as motherhood OR ministry. The best discipleship happens when we do life together, so we should take a look at our lives and evaluate how we can invite both our students and children in. We can bring a student with us as we run errands, work on Bible study material while our children play, or invite our children into the kitchen while we bake cookies for a youth event. I can tell from experience that bringing our children along with us in ministry is the sweetest blessing. Our children have an entire group of students and families who love them. They say, “Yes” when our boys invite them to see their toys, gave me hair bows they no longer use for our daughter, and never fail to high five them when they see them at church.
Motherhood and ministry are some of the most sanctifying things in my life. Neither are easy, but both are beautiful blessings, especially when intertwined together. We must never fail to seek Christ daily, for out of the overflow of that will come the wisdom, creativity, and strength we need to navigate these callings. No matter what season we’re in, may we joyfully and faithfully serve exactly where God has us, to the praise of his glory!