"This means if you are a stay-at-home mom, you are in full-time ministry and are not less than any other mom who goes and works a 9-to-5 at a church or nonprofit organization.
The snow had a layer of ice, I bounced over strange bumps – later I learned they’re called moguls – and I think at one point I even went airborne over a ramp. After I fell a couple times and slid on my butt for a while, I eventually plopped on the ground, took off my skis and walked the rest of the way down the mountain.
When I think of working full-time in ministry while also being a mom of three, I think of that first ski trip. I haven’t figured it out, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.
I became a mommy in 2012. Since that time I’ve identified seven ways to balance being a full-time ministry mom – things I don’t do well but wish to one day conquer because I believe they are valuable:
1. Adjust as needed … balance is an illusion. Balance implies weights and time evenly distributed. In my experience, this is rarely – if ever – the case. There are times when I feel like a poor employee because my family requires more attention, and then there are weeks when I feel like I have held my phone more than my children as I continuously pay bills and answer unending emails. The only difference between this and a black diamond is that while flying down this treacherous slope you are carrying the most precious thing in the world to you. Sometimes you have to stop, take off the skis and walk. Sometimes you fall and slide – accidentally hit a ramp and lose all control for a hot second before gaining it back. Don’t try to balance. Read the path, see what needs your attention and be sensitive to it. If you need to, take off the skis and walk. The life of a working mom is a constant learning experience ... Adjust as needed.
2. Your family is ministry. The priority order is God, family, work … right? But what happens when you work in a ministry? Where does that fit? I believe that our family is our first ministry. You have been commanded to raise Kingdom workers who love and honor Jesus. This means if you are a stay-at-home mom, you are in full-time ministry and are not less than any other mom who goes and works a 9-to-5 at a church or nonprofit organization. Also, you are not a horrible mother for leaving your kids at daycare or a sitter to go and work, either. Ministry is as unique as our families – they don’t look or function the same. I have to be reminded that the work and care that I give at home is just as valuable to God’s Kingdom as the work we I in ministry outside of the home.
3. “No” isn’t a negative. Let’s say it together: “NO!” It’s OK to say, “No.” You are one human taking care of one or more tiny humans – and in some cases a big human the littles ones call “Dad.” We can’t be everything to everyone all the time. Know your limits and say “No.” Don’t feel obligated to hang out, volunteer or be on the PTA. If we stretch too thin, we can break. Be honest, be transparent, be vulnerable with what you have the capacity to do. Choose quality over quantity.
4. Use your Paid Time Off. You don’t get an award for not using your Paid Time Off. Let’s stop being martyrs at the expense of our home health. Take a vacation day. Stay home, be present while getting paid. I give you permission. Our work will wait for us, and ministry will still happen if we are not present. God is bigger than our task list.
5. Take time for your mental health. Life, work and family all bring their own unique sets of stresses. I have truly valued the time I have invested in my mental health with counseling over the last year. It creates a space to talk to a professional sounding board to clear out, work through and cope in a healthy way. It has made me a better mom, wife, worker and human.
6. Share your failures. One of the worst things we can project on our families and co-workers is that we always have it together. I share with my kids when I mess up and use it as a teaching point. I say, “Mama isn’t perfect, and I am still learning.” Sometimes at work, I can’t do a project on my own and need to ask for help. When I see a social media post of another parent’s perfectly clean home – Bible open with journal and hot coffee, and kids sitting quietly coloring – I typically feel like a huge failure. I mean, there’s a bag of potatoes in my living room … Are moms with clean homes and scheduled devotion times bad or lying about their current situation? Not at all! That is amazing and that is their gift. But let’s see one another’s struggles and not be ashamed of them! Let’s encourage one another in our weakness. I say go ahead and post pictures of your ##### house.
7. You are you. Don’t be any other mom. God designed you the way you are for a reason. The way you organize, parent, love – everything. It is you and that is imperfectly perfect. When we try and be someone else and act differently than our nature, we don’t give the credit and glory to our Creator. I want to be who God made me to be, not my co-worker in the cubicle next to me. Let’s learn and glean from those unique things He has instilled in us. You may not see them, but they are there for others to see. Let them shine.
I am far from perfection. Perfection is something I never want to attain. It’s an impossible goal. Instead I choose to take life a day at a time. I will most likely fail at something today, but tomorrow is new. I will boast about my weakness and show my family and ministry mates how God showed up in the midst and still moved mountains.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-9
Liz Morgan is a program administrator for CIY and mother of three. To contact Liz, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.