It’s not easy raising four children and being an ordained female minister. Yet it’s so rewarding because it is exactly what God has called me to do. People have often asked me the question, “How do you do it ALL”? To be completely honest, this question has slightly irked me over the years for two main reasons. The first reason is that no one does it all, including me. The second is because of the subtle sexism the question implies. My husband and I have served in ministry together for 16 years and I haven’t once heard him get asked that question.
Historically, men have been able to pursue their callings and build their careers without condemnation. Women, however, have had to endure shame and judgment for following their calling and chasing their dreams. We are made to feel like neglectful mothers and inadequate wives because we choose not to ignore the calling that rings in our souls! Instead, we should be encouraged to answer that call. Boldly. Bravely. Freely.
Deciding to fulfill your calling as a woman isn’t easy. But, there are some things you can do to help yourself stay the course…
There are three common values I see in women serving God while remaining amazing wives and mothers. If you incorporate these values into your pursuit, you’ll find yourself more fulfilled at home and in the field.
Women who “do it all” grab hold of grace and learn from their mistakes.
Let me clarify, I don’t have it all together. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth, missed deadlines, cheated on diets and forgotten to follow up with people. When failure comes my way it is easy for me to give in to negative thoughts. Instead of wallowing in the past, I’ve learned to push through my self-induced guilt and shame and grab hold of Grace. Grace is a gift given by God that frees and empowers people to be ok with who they are, failures and all.
When my kids were really small, I was scheduled to speak at a women’s luncheon. This speaking engagement was scheduled to take place during the holidays. If you know anything about ministry then you know that is our busiest time of the year. My schedule was so hectic with the demands of the church that I hadn’t spent much quality time with my kids. So I decided to surprise them with a movie night. We made popcorn, snuggled on the couch, and enjoyed one another. After the movie was over and the children were in bed, I checked my phone and saw I had missed more than a dozen calls! I had completely forgotten that I was supposed to be at a speaking engagement! Tears immediately filled my eyes as thoughts of failure filled my mind. In that moment, I did the only thing I knew to do; I took a deep breath and prayed. After I gained my composure I picked up the phone and called the organizer of the event and profusely apologized for dropping the ball. Much to my surprise, she met me with grace and understanding. Although I was sorry that I disappointed these women, her grace and forgiveness made me realize it wasn’t the end of the world.
Sisters, walking in our purpose will require Grace. Grace teaches people to learn from their mistakes and to move forward with God. Likely, you will mess up, more than you want to, but remember – Grace. During times of failure, slow down, take a deep breath and pray then boldly receive the grace of God.
Women who “do it all” aren’t defensive and don’t shame others.
Recently, I was having coffee with a young lady who is in the ministry. We were having a great time sharing stories about life. I was impressed with her energy and charisma! So, I asked her what her secret was. “How do you do it All?” As soon as the words flew out of my mouth the mood between us shifted from fun and energetic to guarded and reserved. Oh no! Had I really just asked her that same, dumb, full of accusation question? A question I was all too familiar with! No doubt she had been insulted with the question before. Now I had unintentionally made her feel unsure, unsafe and defensive. As soon as I recognized her reaction, I assured her that I believed in her and thought she was doing an amazing job.
Many women are unsure what people mean when asked, “How do you do it All?” We become defensive when we think men or worse yet, other women, are “mom shaming” us for our decisions about raising our kids. Career women have been shamed for years and women in ministry are no different. We have this battle within because we feel judged by others. When asked, “How do you do it All?” we wonder if the question is sincere or not. We think to ourselves, “Are they implying that we should be home more or that we are not doing a good enough job?”
This is the thing sisters; we need to have the conversation with one another. We need to share how we do it. Because when we do share, others receive permission to bravely live out their calling too.
Women who “do it all” know that balance is overrated. They have learned to keep the main thing the main thing.
“God first, family second, and ministry third.” I was taught that when I entered the ministry at age 21. I was religious in keeping those priorities, but things were never in balance. Something somewhere was always lacking.
One day in prayer, I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, “Keep Me first and do what I say second.” This revelation was so liberating. I was free to follow God even when He asked me to do things that seemed out of balance.
Recently, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to have our family skip our midweek church service. Instead, we had our own church service that night. We took a chair and put it in the middle of the 6 of us and took turns sitting in it. When we sat in the chair we shared our struggles and concerns with one another. We hugged each other and prayed. It was the best “church service” I had in a long time and it was in my home.
Balance is overrated. When we keep God first, He will lead us, guide us, and show us our priorities. Sometimes that means skipping a kid’s football game to do a hospital visit or skipping church to pray for the family at home. Sisters, when God is our focus we will be able to freely walk in our calling without guilt or condemnation. We can’t do it all. But what we can do is “all things through Christ who gives us strength.” (Philippians 4:13)