Many ministry wives are overwhelmed, stressed out, and stretched thin.
I’m so thankful that Sojourn Network invests in ministry wives. During this year’s Leaders’ Summit, I was asked to speak to the wives on the topic of balancing ministry, motherhood, and marriage (you can listen or read the transcript here). I had to be honest that I don’t always balance the three most pressing and stressful roles in my life well. If balanced well, they often become the most life-giving and fulfilling roles in our lives.
The balancing act is not a matter of giving 1/3 of our time to fulfilling each role in an arbitrary order. Obviously, first we are Christians. We love the Lord even if we lose our marriage, motherhood, and our ministry. However, in terms of earthly relationships, there is an order and we must get it right.
A survey of the Bible presents this order of priority: marriage, motherhood, and then ministry outside of the home (Genesis 2:24;; Ephesians 5:22-6:9; Colossians 3:18-22; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). The way we balance these three is by filling our marriages up 100%, then filling our children up 100%, and finally filling ministry up 100% according our capacity and gifting.
Truly, all three of these are ministry in their own right. The final priority listed as “ministry” refers to ministry outside of our physical homes to our spiritual families.
The main question I tackled after working through Colossians 3:12-24 was this: “What if my relationship with my husband or kids is struggling because I’m stretched too thin?” I answered in 5 parts.
1) Pull extra things or time-wasters out of your schedule.
Perhaps you are always the first to volunteer and you tend to over-commit, consistently leaving you to sacrifice family time for the sake of those commitments. Or, maybe you aren’t present enough to enjoy your family because get sucked into time-wasters. While it’s important that we serve faithfully and rest, we must be mindful that we don’t prioritize extras above family.
2) Spend more focused time with your family.
If your family life is suffering or losing control, based on the order presented in Scripture, it can be wise to spend less time in ministry outside of the home for a season. For some ladies, ministry needs to be at a minimum for a time, especially when motherhood is taking a lot out of them.
3) Be free of the burden of being the “everything lady”.
You don’t have to lead every Bible study, attend every training, and serve in the nursery every time someone doesn’t show up. You don’t need to be the on-call person for every ministry in the church. God has built the church is such a way that everyone is called to contribute and sacrifice. Ministry should never fall on just a few people. Ask others to serve where there is a need that you cannot or should not fill.
4) Ministry must take both gifting and capacity into consideration.
For the limited ministry outside of your home that you chose to do, serve within your unique gifting and inside of your God-given capacity. For example, two ladies may have the gift of hospitality. For one lady with several young children, she may only have the capacity to host a community group dinner one time per month. The second lady may have a greater capacity to keep her husband and children filled up 100%. For her, hospitality may look like hosting various people for dinner several times per week. Both ladies are serving within their gifting while taking their capacity into consideration. Both ladies are serving faithfully!
5) Take one step at a time
Once you start seeing the benefits of pulling back from ministry outside of your home, don’t dive immediately back into everything you were doing before. Instead, try one step at a time, always accessing the health of your marriage and motherhood with each commitment you take on.
Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” There is a stark difference here. The wise woman builds her home. The woman named Folly tears her home down with her own hands.
What if we got this balance right? Our husbands would no longer be ignored. Instead, they would see us building up the marriage part of our homes resulting in a thriving relationship. Our kids would begin to see that mom is no longer tearing down the motherhood part of her home with her stress and anger. Instead, they would see a happy and involved mom. Our churches would be built up to the point of actually feeling a part of our spiritual families.
How would your stressed-out, stretched-too-thin life look if you sought to balance marriage, motherhood, and ministry biblically?
Nikki Daniel is a pastor’s wife from Augusta, Georgia (www.crawfordavenue.org) . Nikki and her husband, Bert, have two sons (Noah, 9 and Isaiah, 7) and one daughter (Tatom, 3). She enjoys homeschooling, writing, and playing intense games of Settlers of Catan. Nikki holds degrees from the University of Houston and Southern Seminary.