On Wednesday my husband departed at the wee hour of 5 am for the high school summer camp our church is hosting. A battle had been brewing in my heart in the weeks leading up to it because 1) It’s in the mountains on houseboats – how fun is that?! 2) It’s ministry to high school students which I love and 3) I didn’t know if I should go. I know those first 2 factors make the decision seem pretty patent but as a mama of a one year old, I really wrestled with forsaking one of my primary ministries – to “do ministry”. When we first began serving with the high schoolers, the youth pastor assigned me the role of supporting my husband rather than leading a group of girls. Since I work part time for our church and am also a wife and mama (and my husband has been unemployed twice since we moved back and we moved again), I was super thankful not to have one more commitment on my plate. In this season I have greatly considered what the term ministry means not only as defined Biblically but practically as well. Many times I have asked my husband if I should just take on discipling a group of girls but have hesitated each time because if I choose to serve in that capacity, I want to do so faithfully and to the best of my ability.
I have received conflicting communication on how much I should be serving right now, which has been hard and honestly, a bit hurtful, but as I’ve prayed, talked with my husband and sought counsel, I’ve decided that I will continue to support my husband for now and that is not less valuable than serving in a different capacity. I’ve also had to be reminded that motherhood is a ministry – this doesn’t exempt moms from serving in the local church but it does mean it’s okay for a season if moms, especially with younger children, have less availability to serve in more formal roles. I’ve had to remember that the Gospel is about God’s grace and I’ve had to remind myself that I don’t serve to be saved, I serve because I am saved and I’m so grateful for what God has done for me in Christ!
When I have this mindset, I joyfully seize any opportunity for service seeing that even the smallest action makes much of the beauty of Christ’s bride and even more of Christ Himself (even if that means cleaning up vomit and tee tee all within 5 minutes, not that I’ve done that or anything. . .).
I arrived at this conclusion only after much prayer and many, many tears. When I served with youth students previously, I was able to make it to every event and in a sense, pour my life out for the students I served. Now I get to pour my life out for my own daughter yet my heart so often resents the responsibility because I am quick to believe the lie that it’s not a “real” ministry. Instead of being grateful for what I get to do, I often lament the loss of what I used to do and then I must question whether my service is unto the Lord or unto myself.
Motherhood is the hardest service I’ve ever done because the fruit of my labor doesn’t manifest itself as quickly or easily. Simultaneously, motherhood is the sweetest sanctifier because I have the opportunity to serve in ways that are unique to this role and this season. The Lord has blessed me with the privilege of shepherding a sweet and sinful soul because He loves me and desires that I become more like Him and to be sanctified so sweetly is a blessed thing.
In this season, I’ve felt that much of my service has been from the sidelines and perhaps there is some truth to that.
I’m slowly learning though that the sidelines isn’t so bad after all because it yields unique service opportunities that are equal parts hard and holy and that hold just as much value as service in formal capacities.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”