Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keeping Priorities, Part 2

Balancing ministry and family is a phrase I hear quite often.
"How do you do it?" is the BIG question.
My answer, for a long time, was…I don’t.
I just do whatever comes my way, saying "yes" to everything.
Isn’t that what a good pastor’s wife does?
Well, this philosophy led me to be overwhelmed,
overburdened, and burn out.
Seen it, done it, don’t want to do it again.
It took me 9 years to understand the wise advice from a dear pastor’s wife,
(thanks Pam, I finally get you!)
who said simply,
"I am my husband’s wife, regardless of whether he is a truck driver, mill worker or pastor, 
my job is still the same..to be his help-meet. 
To help raise his children, to help make him great."
Somehow, when our husbands are in full time ministry,
we think we need to become “Super Spiritual Woman -
able to leap small buildings and tackle huge life problems for all who come our way.”

My Biblical job, as I now understand it, is to keep my priorities my priorities.
God first.
That means time alone with him in the morning,
time to pray in large chunks,
time throughout the day to refocus on His purposes.
Second, my husband. 
How can I be a help to him today?
How can I center all that we do as a family around his vision for our family,
his life goals, and making him great?
This gives me structure for managing our home.
My purpose is to do him good all the days of my life.
Three, my children and home.
Our goal is to raise them to love God with all their hearts,
to know God, and to know His specific purpose for them in this life, being skilled to do that thing.
It is not going to happen without a lot of time and effort teaching, mentoring and discipling.
Besides the children, it is very important to be keeping our home.
It is important to my husband, for hospitality, for us.
I try to focus on the atmosphere I am creating in our home,
realizing that “if mama ain’t happy…ain’t nobody happy.
Creating a warm, inviting, beautiful home,
with a loving and peaceful aroma doesn’t happen without good housekeeping,
and good housekeeping is much easier when one is organized.
It is also much easier when one is not hugely pregnant,
but, life is not always easy, and thank goodness I have helpful daughters!
Organization is a key component to keeping a home.
Probably my "Saturday, Large Family Living" posts are the most practical,
and where one would find out how our family stays organized with 10 or 11 people in one household.
THEN, having accomplished those things,
and having energy and resources left,
I can give to ministry outside my family.
For me, that means hospitality,
playing the piano at church,
and my daily email to the ladies in our church.
During this season in my life, I am doing very little counseling,
no Bible studies or Sunday school, or anything else.
I simply cannot do any more than those few things before I start sacrificing my time with the children,
and my emotional energy for them and my husband.
I am perfectly content and happy to have this more back seat role.
I have so much more to give my family, and they will be here for such a short time anyway.
I have had to learn to live within the resources God has given me at this time.
At times, the process of learning this was not pretty, and I am sure I still have along ways to go.
Emotional energy is like a budget. It is dangerous to overspend.
Yet many a good intentioned couple readily do it for the sake of the ministry.
They overspend their emotional allowance, their physical stamina,
and end up burnt, on anti-anxiety meds, and counting the days until retirement.
Meanwhile, their children and marriage have suffered neglect.
I have found out, the hard way, that it is a big mistake
to not run every decision of what to do with your time
(after your first three priorities are taken care of)
past your husband, he is your leader and protector, you guardian, and your spiritual head.
A wise counselor advised me to respond to opportunities this way:
“Let me talk about it with my husband, pray about it, and get back to you.”
This is a good standard operating procedure for every ministry opportunity that presents itself, however small.
Christian culture says what is valuable in a woman is to be super busy,
running here and there, involved in all sorts of volunteer and ministry roles,
meanwhile, taking good care of her home and family, and staying healthy and sweet.
It is an impossible task, and one God himself does not value.
What does God value?
A gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:4).
A woman who stays home, minds her own business,
and serves her family with loving-kindness and joy. (Titus 2:4 )
Once you get that down, then, go ahead and seek other ways to minister to God’s people.
Find some way of using your spiritual gifts in the community of believers
that allows you to keep your priorities straight.
We must understand that there must be a flex and flow of how to use your time
through out the seasons of life.
What works for me now will be lots different in 10 years.
A healthy person needs to pace themself though each season,
and not try to do it all right now.
Our goal is to walk in balance, keep a Biblical view,
seek the Lord daily for His guidance in life,
trusting Him for all things, knowing that he will direct your paths.

By keeping our priorities in line with Biblical teaching,
we will find life to be less of a struggle.
God promises to bless those who follow Him with humility,
seek His ways, and delight in Him.
His ways are perfect,
His paths lead to peace.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Saying no to the good things and yes to the God things! So hard knowing.
Karen