The Balancing Act of Ministry, Motherhood, and Marriage


My name is Nicki. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. I've been married to Burt for 11 years, almost 12, and he has been the pastor of the same church in Augusta, Georgia, for 15 years. 

In that time, there's been a lot of ups and downs, and I guess the two main highlights would be, he led the church through a revitalization early on, and then most recently, about two years ago, we went through a church merger that moved us from the suburbs into the inner city. So, it was a big change for us, but a really good one. 

We have been with the Sojourn Network for about five years, and really, it started with Burt looking for friendships and for accountability for coaching, things like that, and he did find all of those things in the network, but we also found so much more. We found support for the wives and for the assistant pastors and things like that. So, the network has actually gone above and beyond our expectations. 

You should have a handout ... If you don't, let me know ... On the back of your handout, there is a place for comments, questions, discussion points, things like that, so as you think of things throughout the session, please feel free to jot them down so that we can discuss those at the end. 

At the top of your handout, you're going to see a continuum there, and there really is a spectrum of women in this room today. On one extreme end, there are the go-getter types. These are the women who stay busy day in and day out, and really to the point where their family life suffers because of it. They probably thrive off of checklists, so I'm going to refer to that end of our continuum as the Checklist Women. 

On the exact opposite end, we have those who may be a little bit too free with their time, and maybe they get sucked into time wasters to the point where their family suffers. So, I'm going to refer to those women as our Free Women. 

Smack dab in the middle would be those who know how to work hard and rest well. So, find yourself on that continuum. Go ahead and mark where you are on that continuum. We're all in different places, so this is not a one-size fits all topic. It's not like I can just say, "Women in general, let's talk about balancing these three things." We all really have to come at it from where we are starting from.

I can be in, actually, two different places. Typically, I lean pretty heavily Checklist Woman, but I want all the things. I want to do all the things, and I want to do them fully, but then I tend to get overwhelmed with all of those things, and I jump over that healthy middle section, and I start to avoid things. So, then I find myself locked in my room, watching Netflix, and just saying, "Nobody's allowed to need me for the next week because I just have to ... " I don't know, I just avoid things. But then, a deadline will approach, and I get back to getting things done. 

I can, honestly, tend towards both ends depending on where I am at that point in my life. 

I want us to look at Colossians 3, verses 12-24 today. We're going to see that Paul gives a church plant some Godly wisdom. In fact, it's God's own words about practical living. We're going to see that before we can try to find this balance between motherhood and marriage and ministry, we have to look at our own hearts first. 

So, that's where we're going to go. We're going to look at our hearts. We're going to do some ... Honestly, it's some hard heart work. Then, we're going to talk about how we can balance, really, the three most pressing and stressful and potentially the most life-giving and fulfilling roles in our lives. 

So, let me give you a little bit of a background on Colossians. The church in Colossi was started by a guy named Epaphras . So, Epaphras , his hometown was Colossi, and he traveled about 100 miles to Ephesus . When he was there in Ephesus , he heard Paul preaching the gospel, and you can actually read about Paul's time in Ephesus  in Acts 18, chapters 18 through 21.

So, Epaphras goes from his hometown of Colossi, travels to Ephesus, hears the gospel preached, and then he takes that message back to his hometown of Colossi. He plants a church there. So, Epaphras was a church planter. 

This church, this new church plant, it was young, it was thriving, things were going well, but pretty early on in the church planting process, some dangerous teaching began to happen. So, Epaphras visits Paul, and he says, "Look. Things aren't going so well. We're young. There's this false teaching going on, and I'm concerned." 

So, Paul writes this letter called Colossians in response to this report that he got from Epaphras. The first part of the letter, he's really going after this dangerous teaching, and then in the second part, he says, "Okay, church. You know the true gospel, and here's how you should live in light of that true gospel," and that's the part we're going to look at today. 

Let's read Colossians 3: 12-4. It's in your handout. We're going to really be interacting with the text some, so if you have a pen, take your pen out. We're going to do some marking of the text here. So, we'll read the text, then we'll pray, and then we'll get started. 

Colossians 3: 12-24

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other. As the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive, and above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you are called in one body, and be thankful. 

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing each other in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, the Father, through him. 

"Wives, submit to your husbands as submitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bond servants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

"Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." 

Let's pray. 

God, I pray for our time together. God, I pray that you would give me true words, and if there's anything in my notes that you don't want me to say, help me to just skip over them and not even realize it. If there are things you want me to say that are not in the notes, Holy Spirit, impress those things in my heart and my mind. Give us hearts that are ready to be changed, and give us minds that are ready to learn and take in this knowledge. In Jesus's name, Amen. 

Our outline is this. It's printed on page two, in your handout. Number one is Put On, number two, How?, and number three, Living. 

First is Put On. So, the text says, "Put on, then," and I want to stop right there, at the third word in our text. Some translations say, "Therefore, put on," and if we had that translation, I would stop at the first word, "Therefore," because those are linking words. Then and therefore mean there's something before that we have to look at so we can understand what comes ahead. 

Kind of like, if I said, "okay, then I'll put on my sweater." Well, what came before it? That word, then, means something happened before. So, "I looked outside and it was snowing, so then, I will put on my sweater." It's not printed in your text, so I'm just going to read verses 9 and 10, which come, obviously, right before this. 

It says, "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." So, Paul is saying, we have to put off old-self stuff. He makes this list ... I don't think it's exhaustive, but eh says things like anger, and wrath, and obscene talk. 

The idea is, whatever your life was before Christ, however you tended towards sin, put those things off. If you were an angry person, put those things away. Put that away. If you were lazy, that shouldn't be affecting your husband or your children or your ministry today. If you were selfish and greedy, put those things off. If you were jealous and insecure, put those things away. Whatever sin you tended towards before Christ, put them off. 

I always hate to be in a group like this and the speaker's like, "Hey, can you write something super personal down about your sin on your paper?" But, I'm going to ask you to do that today. Let's just all agree, we're not going to look at our neighbor's papers. This is personal, and I really do want us to do some hard heart work, so we have to get honest about our sin if we're going to do that. 

On your handout, you see this question, "What do I bring into my life as a Christian that I should be putting off?" So, basically, what are some old sins that you still allow into your life. Think about your husband. What would your husband tell you to write down? What about your kids? Kids notice a lot more than we give them credit for. What would your kids say that their mommy struggles with as far as sin? 

Think about your church. If the ladies in your church knew your thought-life, your private conversation, what sins would they say that you should write down? Just take a few seconds and write some of those old sins down that you should be putting off. 

Female: [inaudible 00:10:47]

Nicki: No. I should clarify. You will not be sharing these. You will not be sharing these. Maybe later, with your husband, but not in this group time, so please be really honest about this.

Y'all, I know this isn't something we like to think about, and you may be thinking, "Wait a second. I signed up for practical advice, so do I really have to deal with these heart issues right now?"

I'm the first to admit, it is so much easier to sweep our sins under the rug and act like we're doing great at life, but we're not. I'm not. I'm sure you're not, either. We all have sin that we need to put off. That's a hard thing to hear, but we need to hear it, and it's a hard thing to address, but we need to address it. 

I think there's a healthy way to read about this putting off/putting on process. If you're a get-things-done kind of girl, on the checklist end of the spectrum, you may be thinking, "Yes, this is good. I need this push. I'm glad I can see my sins here. I'm ready to wage war on this sin that so easily entangles." If you're at the other end of the spectrum, though, you may read these sins that you're struggling with, still, and feel discouraged or frustrated with yourself.

Paul inserts this beautiful little phrase that I really believe is there because some people would be discouraged and anxious about this, and this is what he says. Look at verse 12 on your handout.

"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved ... " It's like he's saying, "Look, I know this message is going to discourage some of you, but remember who you are." 

Let's circle those three things. Circle "chosen," "holy," "beloved." Circle all three. They show who we are. They tell our identity, and that ... Our identity is going to determine how we live as moms and wives and Christians. 

There's one more thing that helps us define our identity. That's found in verse 13, "We are forgiven." Circle forgiven, as well. 

"Sister, God chose you to be his daughter. He made you holy through the blood of Jesus Christ, and oh, how he loves you."

Sometimes we just need to hear that. We need to be reminded of that. He chose you. He made you holy. He loves you, and you are forgiven. 

Those are the blanks on the second page of your handout. "I am chosen. I am made holy. I am beloved." Forgiven did not make the handout. That was unintentional, so go ahead and write in, "I am forgiven," as well. "I'm chosen. I am made holy. I am beloved. I am forgiven." Because of those things, I can put off the old self, and I can put on the new self, because of those things as well. 

If we can't just focus on constantly getting rid of our sin, we also have to clothe ourselves with good things. So, let's underline the things that we need to put on ... I know this is flipping a lot back and forth, but back to your first page there, call out, what are some things that you see ... Let's start in verse 12 ... that we need to put on? 

Female: Kindness. 

Nicki: Kindness. Underline kindness. What else?

Female: Humility. 

Nicki: Humility. Underline humility. 

Female: Meekness.

Nicki: Meekness. Underline meekness. 

Female: Compassionate hearts. 

Nicki: Compassionate hearts. Underline that. 

Female: Patience. 

Nicki: Patience, good. Underline that, and then ... There's two sub-points under patience. One is bearing with each other. That would be a sub-point under patience, and then, also, forgiveness would be a sub-point under that. 

What is the last thing we see in verse 14? 

Female: Love. 

Nicki: Love. So, in place of those things that you wrote on your handout, those sins that you are trying to bring back into your life all the time, put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and above all of those things, love. Truly, if we love people deeply, then those other things are going to happen naturally. 

You have a quote there from Spurgen in your handout. So, Spurgen, in his commentary on Colossians, says this of those spiritual fruits that we just read. "These are the sacred vestments of your daily priesthood. Put them on. We are in such a hurry and such a dreadful haste, so selfish, so discontented, so impetuous, and the major part of our sins spring from that condition of mind. But, if we were Godly, restful, peaceful, how many sins we should avoid. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." 

And then, verse 14, love binds everything together. That takes us through verse 14, and then verse 15 is going to start our second point. How? How do we put these things on? How do we put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love? 

We see three ways listed there. We're going to underline these with a squiggly line to differentiate here. How do we do this? Put a squiggly line under, "Let the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts." Put a squiggly line under, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Put a squiggly line under, "Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus." 

So, those are the three ways listed that we can put on these good things. The peace of God dwelling in our hearts, the word of God dwelling in us richly, and then doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. I love how Christocentric those three ways are. We can give our best attempts at putting on compassion, and, oh, yeah, I can put on love, and I can be meek. We can try our best to do those things, but apart from Christ, they are going to fade away very quickly. 

We don't just need peace, we need the peace of Christ. We don't just need good words, we need the good news of Christ. We don't just do everything in the name of good deeds, we do everything in the name of Christ. 

I want us to notice something really important here. Look at your text, and put a box around each time Paul mentions thankfulness. Call out what you see. Where does he talk about thankfulness here? 

We're starting in verse 15. 

So, "Let the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts," put a box around, "and be thankful," in verse ... What do you see in 16? 

Female: [inaudible 00:17:44]

Nicki: Yes. So, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly with," put a box around, "with thankfulness in your hearts to God." And then verse 17. 

Female: [inaudible 00:17:54]

Nicki: Okay, so, "Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God." 

Paul couples thankfulness with all three of these ways to do this. In your handout, it says, "Which condition of the heart is involved in all three of these?" And the answer is, thankfulness. 

We're going to very quickly go through each of those, the peace, the word, and doing everything. I'm going to just talk about those things briefly. So, verse 15, "Let the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts, and be thankful." 

We have access to the peace of Christ, but somehow, we find ourselves struggling with the opposite of peace. We find ourselves struggling with disagreements, agitation ... Especially with parenting, in my case ... distress, frustration, anxiety, sadness, worry. These things are the antonym of peace. They are the opposite of peace. 

The peace that we have is from Christ, which means it has power, so it's not this worldly, temporary, thin kind of peace. That's not what the peace of Christ is. We trust that God is working all things for our good in His glory, and the Holy Spirit uses that faith to give us peace that surpasses all understanding that the rest of the world does not even get. 

When our wombs are barren, or when our toddler is throwing yet another tantrum, or when our older children are wayward and breaking our hearts, we have peace that surpasses all understanding because we trust that God is working those things for our good and for His glory. 

Word. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." So, the word of Christ, that is the gospel. We must let the gospel dwell in us richly. So, we read it. We meditate on it. We memorize it. We speak it. We preach it to ourselves and to others. So, when we're feeling anything other than that peace that we talked about, we preach the gospel to ourselves. When we're feeling anxious, discouraged, angered, annoyed, overwhelmed, we say, "Nicki, Jesus died for you. You are now a child of God. You are loved. God has given you this child, throwing this temper tantrum, right here, right now, for your good and for God's glory. This is good for your sanctification. Trust God." 

We preach that gospel to ourselves. That's one way that we get those things, we cover ourselves with those good things. 

And then, the last one is, do everything. "Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus." So, do life in the name of the Lord Jesus. Discipline your kids, go on date nights, have kitchen dance parties, wipe butts, whatever it is that you do in your life, do those things in the name of the Lord Christ. And what does that even mean? Do everything in obedience to him. Represent who he is, and make much of who he is in your daily life, in the everyday things that you're doing. 

Now, we are at a point three, living. We've worked our way through verses 12 through 17, and now we're at the practical outworking of that heart work that Paul has been encouraging. We've addressed our hearts, and, Lord willing, we know what we need to put off. We know what we need to put on, and we know how to put those things on. 

We've all heard this section before. I'm not going to pull out the obvious applications. I'm not even going to go verse-by-verse like I have for the rest of the text. The main thing I want us to see is an order of priority that is given in our text. 

Obviously, first, we're Christians. We love the Lord, even if we lose the other three. If we lost our marriage, we still love the Lord. If we lost our motherhood, we still love the Lord. If we lost our ministry, we still love the Lord. So, this is in terms of earthly relationships. This order is in terms of earthly relationships and we've got to get the order right. 

Look at verses 18 and 19. What are the first words in those verses? 

Female: [Inaudible 00:22:01]

Nicki: Wives and husbands. Put a number one above wives and husbands, the first words in 18 19. 

Then, what do we see ... What are the first words in 20 and 21? 

Female: [inaudible 00:22:14]

Nicki: Children and fathers. Put a number two above children and fathers. 

Then, in verse 22, we see bond servants, obviously, there's a lot more exact application for bond servants, but it can also have application for work outside of the home and for ministry outside of the home. So, put a number three above bond servants. 

The order must be this: marriage, motherhood, and then things outside of the home. Specifically, today, we're talking about ministry. So, marriage, motherhood, and ministry. This is not a 33.3% split between each one, like, "I'll give 33.3% to my marriage, and 33.3% to my kids, and the same to ministry." That's not what this is. 

This is a fill your marriage up 100%, and fill your children up 100%, and then fill your ministry up 100%, according to your capacity in gifting. We're going to revisit those words in a few minutes. 

Truly, our first ministry is to our husbands and then to our children. That's why, when I say ministry, I'm saying ministry outside of the home, because we're all doing ministry inside of our homes at all times. 

Let's go through these in order, and turn to page three of your handout. Your husband must come first in terms of your earthly relationships. He is your first ministry. This ministry looks like encouragement, time, love, energy. There's a proverb printed out at the top of page three. It says this, "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down." Proverbs 14:1.

We see a very stark difference here. We see a wise woman building her house. We see, she's building her home up. Then there's this lady named Folly, which I have been Folly before many times. This lady named Folly is tearing her home down with her own hands. The wise woman gives 100% of the time and energy, love, into building up the marriage part of her home. 

How can we build up the marriage part of our home? We're going to just call out ways. We're going to take 30 to 60 seconds, and call out ways. If somebody says something that encourages you, or you feel like, "This would be good to build up the marriage part of my home," jot it down. You've got a box there. 

I'll get us started with the thing that some of you are probably thinking but don't want to say. Sex. We can build up the marriage part of our home by having mutually joyful sex and having it often. So, I'll go ahead and get that one out of the way. What are some less awkward ways that we can build up the marriage part of our home? 

Female: Encouraging our husbands. 

Nicki: Encouraging our husband. 

Female: [inaudible 00:25:09]

Nicki: Yes, definitely. 

Female: [inaudible 00:25:09]

Nicki: Yes. What else can we do? 

Female: [inaudible 00:25:19]

Nicki: Yes. 

Female: Sometimes, giving up my own desires so that he can fulfill his [inaudible 00:25:28]. 

Nicki: Hmm. 

So, sacrificing for them. Yes. Let's have a couple more.

Ashley: I think making him a priority, which can be hard when you have kids. 

Nicki: Yes. It does. 

Female: [inaudible 00:25:47]

Nicki: Say it again? 

Female: Making time. 

Nicki: Making time for him. Yeah, that's good. Those are really good. 

Now, for your second box, we're not going to talk about it out loud. What are some ways that you personally struggle with tearing down the marriage part of your home? Maybe you're not tearing it down wall-by-wall, but maybe you're picking. You're just continually picking and tearing it apart little by little. So, just, in that box, write some ways that you struggle I think tearing down the marriage part of your home. 

And then motherhood. Your children should come next. Your second most important ministry is to your children. Just as ... What's your name, in the second row?

Ashley: Ashley. 

Nicki: Just as Ashley said earlier, it's easy for our kids to creep up to that number one spot because they're cute, they say, "I love you," they offer free hugs, but also, they just demand a lot of time and a lot of energy. So, it's really easy for us to kind of just slowly put them as number one, and really, they need to be second. 

It will bless your children to see that your marriage is actually more important than them, that their dad is your number one priority in terms of earthly relationships. 

Our children are our first line of evangelism, and then, Lord willing, as they get older, they'll become our first line of discipleship as well. Let me read our proverb again. "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly, with her own hands, tears it down."

We want to be a wise woman who gives 100% of the time, energy, and love needed to build up the motherhood part of our home. Every child is different. Some are going to need more cuddles. Some are going to need more affirmation. Some will just need more time. How can we build up the motherhood, the children part of our homes? Let's call out some things that the Lord is putting on your heart and mind, and jot down things that would encourage you to build that part of your home up. 

Female: Being present can build something [inaudible 00:28:17]. 

Nicki: Yep. That's good. 

Female: Being patient. 

Nicki: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Female: Discipline. 

Nicki: Yes. Sometimes, it's easier to just ignore it, but yes. Being faithful to discipline. 

Female: [inaudible 00:28:35] in scheduling and in doing as much ... It's very easy in mothering to just be tossed by the waves, but if you're reacting to your life instead of actually plotting it forward with intentionality. 

Nicki: Yeah, that's good. Let's have one more. 

Female: [inaudible 00:28:53]

Nicki: Yes, girl. 

Female: My prayer, that it's encouraging, because that's all I [inaudible 00:28:58] at certain times. 

Nicki: Yeah. That's great. Yeah, our kids need to see us repenting. They need to learn how to repent from us. Like I said, they're our first line of evangelism, so they should see us acting in obedience to Christ, and that involves a lot of repentance. Sometimes, 10 times a day, saying, "Oh, I'm so sorry I got frustrated with you." I had to apologize to my three year old, actually, right before we left, because I got frustrated with her. 

So, now, more personally ... We're not going to discuss this. Just, how do you struggle with tearing down the motherhood part of your home? Take just a little bit of time to write those down. 

And then, ministry. So, our marriage is to be our number one earthly priority. Our motherhood is second, and then ministry. This is ministry outside of our immediate families, but this is a part of our spiritual homes. We have spiritual brothers and sisters that we can contribute to either building up or tearing down. So, let me read our proverb again. 

"The wisest of women builds her house, but folly, with her own hand, tears it down." 

What are some ways we can build up the ministry part of our spiritual homes? 

Female: Hospitality. 

Nicki: Yeah. That's a good one. 

Female: Generosity. 

Nicki: Hmm. She said generosity. Yes. Yeah. 

Female: Making time for them. 

Nicki: Yes, and that can be hard. 

Female: Being vulnerable. 

Nicki: Yes. Not putting up the front that we've got it all together. Let's have one more. 

Female: Praying for wisdom or [inaudible 00:31:24]. 

Nicki: Hmm. Yes. Yeah. That's good. 

Then, more personally, how can we tear it down? Think of ways that you tend to tear down the ministry. Maybe it's gossip. Maybe it is through frequent conflict with people. Maybe it's talking badly about elders or wives. Whatever it is, however you struggle personally, write those things down. 

I want us to see one more thing in our text before we move on, so if you'll turn back to the first page ...

I want us to see that verses 23 and 24 parallel back with verse 17. Let's draw a big rectangle around verse 17, which says this, "In whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." And then put a box around 23 and 24, "Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." 

Put rectangles around those, and then just connect them with an arrow or with a double-sided arrow to show that they parallel. 

You have a question on the back of your handout. I want to spend the rest of our time here, and then we'll have a time for discussion. 

It says, "What if my relationship with my husband or kids is struggling in particular because I'm stretched to thin?" 

I think we all are at this place in various times in our lives, so the answer is going to begin with what you marked at the very beginning of the session on that continuum. Where are you on that continuum? 

If you lean heavily towards checklist, maybe you're stretched too thin because you have too many extra things on your plate. Maybe you're the first to volunteer every time somebody needs a volunteer, like, "Oh, that sounds fun. I'll do that," or, "Yeah, I think I can fit that in," or, "I'm not sure when I'll fit that in, but I care about it, so I'm going to make it work," and you just keep adding, and you add, and you add, and you add. But then, later, when you realize the things that you'll have to give up in order to fulfill those roles, you kind of start to regret that you committed to it in the first place. 

Are there things that you can pull out of your schedule that other people can do that would give you more time with your husband and your kids and your ministry? The takeaway for you would be to weigh the cost of every single one of the extra things that you agree to take on. What would you have to give up in order to fulfill that role? 

If it's something like, "Oh, I'll have to give up 30 minutes of sleep," maybe that's not a big deal to you. If you've already committed to a bunch of other things, and now it's, "I would have to give up X amount of family time once a week," you really need to weigh that once you get to that point. 

If you lean towards the free woman end, you may be stretched too thin because you get sucked into time wasters, and maybe you're not present enough to enjoy your ministry, your motherhood, and your marriage. What are some time wasters that you can pull out of your schedule? 

We all need to unwind and relax, so I'm not advocating for working 24/7 without a break, but there is a point where we abuse rest. What are some time wasters that you can pull out of your life to give you more time with your family and your ministry? The takeaway for you would be to weigh the cost of all of those time wasters. If you're watching Netflix, and it's like, the next episode starts playing, "What would I have to give up if I'm going to watch another episode here?" 

Maybe, you're like, "Oh, the kids are asleep. I'm good. I'm going to just keep going." Think about the next morning. What are you going to be like when you wake up? Are you setting yourself up to put these things on for your kids the next morning? Are you setting the morning up for failure because you're going to be tired and grumpy? So, weigh the cost of each one of those time wasters. 

Burt is great about having us sit down and pull things out of my schedule. This is a regular part of our lives. I over-commit. My plate's always heaping full. He'll say, "Babe, your family life is suffering. You have too many things. We need to pull some stuff out." 

So, I'm thankful. Honestly, I'm very thankful that he's willing to do that. So, invite your husband to do that for you. Invite him to call you out or help you out when he notices that your family or ministry is suffering due to your busyness, or you're wasting time.

I think once you realize your tendency, and you pull back on either unneeded busyness or time wasters, you're going to feel a lot of relief. However, once you get those things out, you are still going to be stretched because marriage stretches you. Children stretch you. Ministry stretches you. So, here are the blanks on your handout. 

"If family life is suffering, or your blanks are losing control, based on the order Paul presents, it's wise to back off ministry outside of the home and focus back on my husband and kids." 

I'm going to read it again. "If family life is suffering, or losing control, based on the order Paul presents, it's wise to back off ministry outside of the home and focus back on my husband and kids." 

Y'all, I realize the magnitude of saying this to a roomful of ministry wives. That's not easy to say, but if you are stretched too thin, you need to pull back to the most important things. You're still going to be stretched, but it won't be as thin. You need to be stretched a healthy amount. Marriage is going to stretch you, motherhood is going to stretch you, ministry is going to stretch you. 

For some ladies, ministry needs to be at a minimum, for a time, especially when motherhood is taking a lot out of them. 

Here's your next two blanks. "Ministry must take two things into consideration. First is your gifting. Second is your capacity in this stage of life."

Female: [inaudible 00:38:22]

Nicki: "First is your gifting. Second is your capacity in this stage of life." 

God has gifted us all with different abilities and different capacities for various things, do don't compare yourself to others. If you see a lady gifted in hospitality and she's looking over at the lady who's gifted in teaching children, and thinking, "Oh, I wish I had that gift. Look how, kids are coming to know the Lord through her teaching. I want that gift." No, she's been gifted with hospitality, and she should use that gift in full. 

Maybe you're gifted in hospitality, and maybe you also feel stretched and just full with marriage and motherhood. So, you would sit down with your husband and say, "What does hospitality look like for me right now?" And maybe you agree, once a month, you're going to have people over for dinner. One time a month. That is great, because that is what serving in ministry to a full 100% looks like for you at that time in your life. 

Maybe there's another woman in the room who is a Checklist Woman and she has a greater capacity for things. So, she's feeling stretched in her motherhood, and marriage and motherhood as well, and so she sits down with her husband and they agree, three times a week they're going to have somebody over for dinner because her capacity is greater. That's also great. That's wonderful. That is how 100% to ministry, for her, looks at that time in her life. Both things are wonderful, and they're dependent on the capacity that they've been given. 

Listen to this. It's okay to say this. It's actually good to say this. "I have less capacity in my life right now, so hospitality looks differently for me than it does for her. God is honored in both." God will give you the grace that you need for the tasks that he has for you. You don't have to do it all. Yes, be committed to the local church. Serve in the local church. But, the capacity that we serve at 100% is going to look differently at different times, and that's not just with ministry. It's also with marriage, and it's also with motherhood. 

If your husband is seeing a lot of conflict in the church and he is just going through a really difficult time with the church, he may come home and regularly want to talk for two or three hours at night, so you giving 100% to your marriage is going to look differently at that point than it does a month later when things have settled down and he feels loved and supported at the church. Then, maybe you're not ... Maybe you're spending 30 minutes a night rather than two or three hours. 

Same with kids. Maybe one of your kids is being bullied at school, so you invest more encouragement into that child. You're more intentional to love and support that child, and then later, when he's back playing with the neighborhood kids and having fun, 100%'s going to look differently. 

It's the same across the board. It's not just with ministry. But, sometimes, as ministry wives, we feel like we have to do it all. We just, "Come on. I'll do it. I can do it. I'll find a way. We'll make it work." You don't have to do it all. If you're growing as a Christian, if you're loving your husband well, loving your children well, and serving in the church, you're doing an incredible job. That, right there, those four things, that's a lot. 

You don't have to lead every Bible study. You don't have to attend every training. You don't have to fill in every time there's a nursery worker missing. You don't have to fill in every time the Children's Sunday School teacher gets sick. You don't need to be the on-call person for every ministry in the church, unless you have the time and capacity and gifting to do that without putting a strain on your family life. 

For those who aren't able to do that, it's okay to be in a season where you're serving one time in the nursery for the quarter. I specifically am thinking about the time when I was nursing a child, and I had a toddler running around, and I was getting maybe three or four hours of sleep at night. For that stage of my life, I had to step back and say, "Look. I need a break. I need a break from the ministry outside of the home because inside of my home is demanding so much of my time." 

It is okay to do that, and it's even healthy to do that. 

So, the free women are over here, like, "Yeah, I totally get that," and then the checklist women are like, "No. I am not giving up my Director position. I am not giving up my spot on the music team." But here's the deal. You have to understand that it's for a time. It's not forever. It's for a time as your home requires more time, energy, love. 

Here's your last blank, here. "Once home is healthy, I should take one step at a time back into full ministry outside of the home, always assessing the health of my marriage and motherhood." So, one step at a time.