Striking the Balance
I’m finishing up my June Facebook study on my organizational book and I thought you might enjoy a post I wrote for it a few weeks ago. We were talking about balancing family & outside service/ministry. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Striking the Balance
As we are talking about not being over-committed, it is generating a lot of great questions and comments on both sides. Some gals need to scrape their plates because they are doing too much. But others feel they are not taking on too much and actually wonder if it is always the best to say no to outside opportunities & activities. Glad you asked! Here is my take (and I welcome yours too!)
I see women on both ends of the spectrum.
Some are so busy running around at church, school & in the community that God & their families get all the leftovers. They’ll spend oodles of time planning & teaching a Sunday School lesson, but rarely are intentional at doing a Bible study with their own kids.
Or, they’ll make a fabulous meal for a family who just had a baby or death in the family, while their own clan gets peanut butter & jelly or pizza….again. That woman is so busy serving others that she doesn’t slow down to serve those in her own home. I can talk about “that woman’ because for MANY years….I was her!!
But, there are also women who swing the pendulum the other way and say, “My family is my ministry” so they do nothing outside their four walls. They are at their family’s beck & call and serve them only, reasoning that it would be wrong to place an outside interest ahead of a child or husband or to do something they enjoyed that their family did not. I have also been that woman (but only for a short while).
The trouble I found with each extreme is that gal # 1 is at risk for raising resentful kids since mom was always out saving the world but ignoring them. Gal #2, however, may just end up with spoiled kids who think the world revolves around them.
Tell me, if our kids NEVER see us serve outside our four walls, how will they ever grow up with a passion for people? But, if they see us over-serving, how will they ever build a firm family-first foundation? What is the answer?
Balance that comes through a close walk with God & a prayer relationship with Him so you take your cues from Him as to what you should (& shouldn’t) be involved in.
I want my kids to know they are my priority (after their dad), but I also want them to see me be involved in the lives of others and to catch a glimpse for ministry. So, I ask them to join me!
They help with the day-to-day operations of my writing & speaking. They go with Todd & I to serve at the soup kitchen. They pray for dad as he starts break-time Bible studies at his work place for those who have never cracked a Bible before. They go with me to pull weeds for an elderly neighbor.
We serve together when we can. And other times, we serve alone.
So yes, be prayerful & careful that you don’t take on too much. But also beware of using the family as an excuse not to serve.
While our families are our first and greatest ministry, I’m not convinced they should be our only one.
Yes, there will be seasons where we pull back & focus only on home but we should be sensitive to where God would have us serve (especially in His body–the church). He may just have a plan for our kids to see us in action and catch a heart for service too.
So I say family first…..but not family only.
Now, your thoughts?
Karen, I love to serve. As a pastor’s wife I know that I am called by my husband’s side in ministry. That said, I also know I could be involved in outside ministry 24/7. After all, pastor’s wives can do anything, right? About 25 years ago I read a book called, “Portrait of a Fulfilled Woman”. I don’t even remember who wrote it, but it changed my life. At the time we had 2 toddlers and one on the way. I am an artist and a writer. Needless to say, I got asked to take care of all the creative jobs, which I loved BTW. But, as the mother of young children, I often felt burdened by the projects or events I was involved in. I realized I was pleasing people instead of God. The book helped me realize that if I always said yes, the person the Lord had in mine might not ever get asked. Case in point: There was a young man who started coming to our church. He was a new Christian AND he was an artist. But he never got asked to do anything because, of course, the pastor’s wife would do it. Well, I found out about this young man and encouraged the church to invest in his talent. As it turned out he had prayed that God would use his talent for His glory. As a new Christian this was HUGE! If I had continued to say yes every time I was asked to do something artistic, Brian would not have had a chance to give God his talent. I have learned that I must pray about every request. I must have a willing heart – obedience is crucial – but then I must ask myself, “Am I saying yes to please people, or am I saying yes to please God?” That definitely helps in the balancing department.
Sweet blessings to you!
Thank you for these words…what a blessing to me as I struggle to strike the balance! This was the greatest lesson I learned at She Speaks 2009, which I wrote about on my blog last year. You can read about it here if you’re interested: http://mommieswithhope.blogspot.com/2010/03/defying-all-expectations.html
I didn’t get to enjoy the Bible Study as I do not do Facebook, but i did read your book this winter and wow did it change things at my house. A little bit at a time. But I want to thank you for the reminder of balance. This summer has been very crazy and I was beginning to feel as if I was totally dicounted to my family, due to serving others who crrently need help due to medical conditions. But we have been able to serve together. We haven’t been able to do some of the things that we usually do in the summer and the schedule has been thrown out the window, but we have been serving God and others together. So thanks for the reminder that it is good to do that together and that BALANCE is the key.
Great insight Karen.
I agree that balance is important and that while our families should be the number one priority; God has given us several ministries throughout our lifetime to bring Him glory and expand His kingdom.
I would add that seasons of families being the only priority last longer for some than others because this perspective of balance can become a discouragement to someone whose season may not be just a few weeks or months.
For example, I’m not involved in direct ministry and haven’t been since my son’s birth back in December of 2009. I do blog and encourage others through my writing which I believe is one of the biggest ministries God has given me; and am open to God’s Holy Spirit prompting me when someone needs something I have and am able to give be it time, prayer, encouragement, money, food etc..
However, I know that right now, family is in some senses my only ministry and will be for some time. With a toddler, another baby on the way, one income, one car which is why my husband during weekdays, and limited time with my husband due to work obligations, I have to prioritize and keep them above everything else (other than God of course).
So I say all that to say that yes balance is vital; in all areas of our lives; but we have to be mindful of the fact that one size does not fit all and encourage those who are limited by circumstances to serve outside of their home but are striving to do their best in what is in front of them inside their home.
Excellent post, I agree completely. I had to learn to keep the balance. I believe we are called to serve and each season of my life had me serving differently depending on my family life. When my kids were little I served with the young kids in the church, as they grew older I got involved in the youth group, they see me cook for others and help our widowed friend. I remind them of God’s word to help the widows and the orphans or I tell them how Jesus said, “When you did this to the least of my brothers you did it for me.” I like them to see how we follow Jesus’s commands for the glory of God and not for our glory and that we do it with a happy heart. How exciting it is to be Jesus’s hands and feet on earth!! I also remind them that we may be the only Jesus some people see in their life as we serve others with a selfless heart. I always tell them, this is what we are asked to do. Hmmm, that reminds me, time to call our widowed friend and see what she needs help with this month!
PS AND I love what Saint Francis said, “Evangelize always and if necessary use words.” May our live and actions always evangelize our Risen Lord. Did I go on too much….sorry. Matthew 25: 31-46 is one of my favorite verses so I get a little excited.
Karen, I so agree!! After my husband died I went into a cocoon–I think I did my children a disservice. I helped with a toy drive this past Christmas and I signed up to go and visit an elderly Woman–It felt so wonderful to feel like I had helped someone else!!! Thanks, needed to read this today!! Blessings, barb
Hi Karen, just to let you know that I just found your blog and I quoted you on my blog today about the “Made to Crave” book…thank you so much for your insights. I’m looking forward to reading more from you!
I have fallen behind on the study… vacation and VBS and work and lots of other things… however, I really appreciate you lighting a fire under us. My house is not spotless, nor is it organized, but it is getting better every day. Even my son is noticing. So thanks… and as soon as I get off this computer I am going to go tackle my office. Prayers would be appreciated ;-)