There is this common misperception that “balance” is somehow attainable in life. As I’ve lived and breathed ministry for over 15 years, I’ve come to find, that that’s simply not reality. However, over the years, I’ve learned some practical and spiritual truths that have allowed me to understand that while balance may be a myth, having an equally great ministry and life are not.
I’m aware this concept is going to involve a bit of a perspective shift.
So, let’s look at three shifts in our perspective that can lead us to fulfillment in the midst of imbalanced seasons of life.
the first shift is from you — to all of you.
An immediate decision that my husband, Jason, and I made as we led into having a family was that we are ALL on the journey of ministry together. I acknowledge that for many families, not everyone is equally partnered in ministry as we are, but all are still affected.
Fortunately, I’ve known I was called since a very young age, to do ministry for life. So, this decision was likely a lot easier for me to make. Though, if for any reason, I stepped away, my call never changes.
Let me explain why. I believe ministry is something every single Bible-believing, Jesus-following, Christian is called to. That’s made pretty clear in Matthew 28:19-20 when Jesus releases the disciples into the Great Commission. He equipped and called from the beginning!
“19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20
For my husband, our family, and I, our calling happens to predominately take place within the four walls of the church.
We are all in, not just one of us. Our kids are a part of this journey. They are not separate from it. They are called, they are chosen, they are going to be equipped and they will identify the specific nature of their calling, as we all do this thing together.
We find success in bringing them on the journey when we are sensitive to their needs, as we clearly define daddy and mommy’s calling to them and establish who their creator is within them.
I believe this is an incredibly important, yet difficult thought, for our culture. As a generation who is all about individuality, even in the midst of our marriages, the unified front of our families can be hard to accomplish. While each individual’s calling is uniquely played out, the spirit of the home is still unified, as we understand that we are all called as ministers in our various spheres of influence.
My hope is that we see the church become loved, rather than despised because of the time and energy it can consume when we are all as a family running our individual races. This takes practice, intentionality and an understanding of the church’s purpose and impact on our generation.
our second perspective shift is to move from losing one to loving both.
Several years ago, I heard a quote that I now hold so closely. As a new mom, I truly struggled with my call as a pastor, in relationship to my roll and natural call, as a mother.
How could I possibly do both?
I was consumed by mommy blogs, as I worked through the details of what a new life as a mom would look like. What did I need to do practically? How much time would this take? Was it even possible to have and do it all?
As many know, the mommy blogs can be beneficial, but also EXTREMELY detrimental. The enemy loves to lay the mom-guilt on thick through this avenue. I felt, I simply couldn’t live up, unless I gave it all up.
At a women’s event in Phoenix, where my husband and I pastored youth and young adults, we had a beautiful guest speaker, Noemi Chavez, Pastor at Seventh Street Church in Long Beach. Honestly, I had barely entered the room, as our church was hosting the event, I hadn’t had much time to sit but got to hear this perfect, God-ordained moment, just for me.
She said while sharing her story, that God had promised her that,
“when she was taking care of the kingdom, He would take care of her family and when she was taking care of her family, He’d take care of the kingdom.”
That is what I desperately needed to hear. This is what has given me space to enjoy both, not always equally, rarely in any semblance of balance, but because I know that God has what I can’t focus on when the other needs my affection and attention.
Trust God to care for the things you can’t. He’s bigger. It’s His house, which He promised to build. He doesn’t need our help, but allows us to be a part. So when enough is enough, trust Him, rely on Him, breathe in His promises.
lastly, we must shift our perspective from guilty to free.
As we move into summer, we all feel this sense of lightening. It’s the sun, it’s the late nights, it’s the fun. Practically and spiritually, it seems like this period of rest. The church events have slowed down, people leave town, everyone carries this sense of calm.
Every summer we take advantage of this natural rest period in the life of our church. Funny enough we get to the end and God was still moving and grooving the whole time, nothing slowed down, but we carried it differently, or perhaps His grace was different.
Either way, and for whatever reason, we feel release. During the summer we don’t just vacation for a minute. We often use the majority of our vacation time to get away for two, up to three weeks. We rest, we reprieve, we fuel up. We guiltlessly eat and play.
In this time we recalibrate as pastors and as a family. Andy Stanley has a principle regarding taking time off. I value it and think it’s so beyond necessary.
For every 6 days, take one off. ( I think I’d prefer two, but that doesn’t always play out.)
Every 6 weeks take a weekend off. When was the last time you left the pulpit?
Every 6 months take a week off.
So often, we reach burn out and brokenness because we don’t take the time to rest. Our Sabbath is our work day, so we have to be intentional and create a new day of rest. More often, we don’t reprieve because we carry so much weight as we encourage others, minister to their needs, run to the hospital, pray, pray, pray and build relationships.
As a final encouragement, my hope for you is that you’ve reached a bit of a shift in your perspective. In your hopes to find balance, I desire that you realize instead: that God has called all of us on the journey, so include your family. Teach them, equip them and love them along the journey. Know when to lay one down to aid the other, and to trust God in the midst of that season with the other. Take time out!
As you enter the beautiful season that is Summer, I pray that you can find that beautiful ebb and flow of ministry and family life. I pray you are released from any guilt associated with putting one in front of the other for any season. I pray that you are restored, encouraged, equipped and refueled with a new passion for His kingdom.
This is part of a Work Hard/Play Hard series we are doing this month. Look for a related podcast episode, coming soon.