Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
Recently, I was pondering and praying about what my life looks like and requires of me in full-time ministry, as well as my role of wife and mom. Am I connected to my number one Source or starving in the desert due to my sin of self-suffiency?
I wondered aloud: is there any emotional baggage or unfinished business from my past affecting my leadership, marriage or parenting today?
Let me invite you to ask and challenge yourselves with this question, as well. We are women, and this encompasses all of the following and then some: We are deep feelers, multi-taskers, doers, caretakers, survivors, and visionaries. We long to fulfill God’s plans and purposes for the day.
We are our very own best friend one moment and then our worst enemy the next.
We are torn in a million different directions. And we are in ministry. Why do I say it in such a way? Because this is our extra calling and at times we lose sight of everything to serve well in ministry. But God has asked us to get our priorities in better order so that we can be the best version of ourselves as He intended us to be. We would do well to be deliberate in this, otherwise old, familiar patterns make themselves a permanent home in our day-to-day living. Let us not lose sight of what is most important.
- Learn to set and adhere to boundaries and of what you can and cannot do. This requires honesty with yourself. This also means that we look at our schedules every week and know what we can and cannot commit to. We will inevitably let people down in the process of setting boundaries and saying “no” but it is actually Godly to listen closely and obey the voice of our Father. One of my favorite new sayings that a dear friend and mentor taught me is, “Life is hard and full of disappointments and today I may be one of yours”. Although I do not ever articulate this, I remind myself, in a healthy fashion, that we were not created to be all things to all people. Even Jesus got tired and rested as he sought to reconnect with his Heavenly Father.
- Our husbands and children are not the second, third or last priority but our first ministry. How can we possibly love them well when trying to give from an empty tank? Also, how are we able to receive that love when ministry overwhelms us and giving out of our lack? Learning to be separate yet together and having a healthy respect in our togetherness yet separateness is essential in ministry.
- Our imperative is to find and make the time to refuel. Self-care is one the greatest challenges for those who serve others. I have found that if I do not make this a priority, everything suffers. Know what it is that refuels and invigorates you and then go do it. Also, make intentional alone time to sit and pray, seek after our lost hearts and discover them again in Christ. What a gift we give to ourselves when we tend to our souls! When we attempt to exercise control and power, we stray from the embrace of our Father.
- Learn to practice effective communication with your spouse about daily and weekly schedules. Be on the same page. Do not forget to minister to the one God put you alongside in ministry. You were created to be a team and when “life” gets in the way and attempts to divide and conquer that union, the war is on, battle begun and we need to get involved. If it is a marriage retreat we need, or counseling, a getaway to rediscover one another or simply a season of healing. Wherever we find ourselves in this relationship, we need to tend to it as if it were our first ministry. I learned a while ago that if this relationship is not okay, then nothing else matters in ministry. So, say I’m sorry, go on a date and have fun, decide to pursue counseling or just ask how you can love one another better.
Ask and seek God for the motivation of your heart and what priorities should come first. Also ask this: am I making time to deal with my own baggage and allowing God to guide me in the process towards a better understanding of myself as it pertains to my relationship with Him? You can’t give what you don’t have. Let Him refuel your soul. It needs it. I know mine does.