Answering the Call to Ministry

Stories for the Journey

 

Note: This week, I will be sharing stories of my spiritual journey. Feel free to share yours in the comments or in an email. I would love to read them!

After my husband and I got married, we jumped into ministry at our church with both feet. He led all the music. I played the piano every service. We did van ministry to visit kids on Saturday, then returned Sunday to pick those kids up for church. We were in charge of the youth group. I functioned as missionary leader at our church. He served on the church board. We both taught Sunday School. We were sold out for God, and we wanted to do as much as we possibly could.

When our daughter was born, we kept it up. We packed her car seat onto the van and tried not to grimace when snotty-nosed kids would grab her little hands. We left her with a family member while we did music or taught our classes or whatever else we were signed up for.

The ministry schedule we kept became more grueling with a baby tagging along. I noticed my joy for ministry lagging. I was tired and reminding myself not to be “weary in well-doing” was growing a little old. After charging on in typical Martha fashion for many months, I finally decided to take a cue from Mary and talk to God about it.

You see, I had noble visions of parenting. I thought that being there was enough. My husband and I had decided that I would stay home with our child while he worked for money outside the home. I was doing my parenting duty by being physically there with my daughter. Or so I thought.

When I talked to the Lord about how my baby was hampering my ministry at church, He flipped my idea of ministry around. “When I gave you this child, I gave you your ministry,” He reminded me. “All the other stuff you’re doing for me is nice, but it isn’t what I have called you to do. I have called you to mother this child, and that is the first and foremost thing.”

After much prioritizing and prayer, I began to give things up. I kept the ministries at church that I could do with a little one, but I cut way back on my commitments. It was hard. It’s easier to play the piano for worship than it is to train a resistant toddler to behave well in a church service. It’s easier to teach a Sunday School class of children than it is to play in the nursery with toys while the devil whispers, “You aren’t doing anything worthwhile for God.” Youth group outings are more fun than play dates at the park.

I know my story isn’t permanent. Someday I will pick up more ministry when my children are older. I already have picked up a few things as my children pass up the baby stage.

I know my story isn’t for everyone. Plenty of mamas parent well while being involved in ministry at the same time. And God equips them to do that.

But, the song that we sang to my daughter at her baby dedication has become the theme of my mothering when I am honest enough before the Lord to remember my true calling:

For this special time in my life, my ministry is you.

Though so many things pull on my heart, my ministry is you.

So, all of this world can wait, while I give myself to you.

Because you only stay young for a little while. My ministry is you.

1 Comment

  • Donna

    October 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm Reply

    Jennifer: I think you are right when you have learned to say, “No” to some things.
    I have learned a lot of lessons over the years and one of those is an ongoing lesson of saying no and keeping my priorities straight. At different stages of my life, I have found that my priorities have changed. When I was homeschooling, my focus was on the boys and teaching them the ways of God. I was busy in the church and did a little too much. I suffered greatly from my choices. I was doing too much.

    The most important priority that a person can have is their relationship with Christ. Out of that flows everything else that we do, who we are, and how we serve others. If we give lip-service prayers, then that is how we will be spiritually. Our ministries will not as effective as they should be.

    Let me illustrate. I had to do a talk a year or so ago about prayer and its importance in missions (outreach). I used an eye dropper, a pitcher, and large stock pots of water. The eye dropper represented those quick shallow prayers. The Pitcher represented a life of a missionary. I used a cup to illustrate how the water would be pulled from our life every day. If we are not spending time praying, it showed that the pitcher was drained slowly over time. Even with using eye dropper prayers, as opposed to cupfuls of things like, children, ministry, everyday problems, etc. It showed at the end that there was nothing left in the pitcher. Nothing left for the spouse and the other needs.

    The second priority should be to your mate. If you neglect him and you end up with an empty nest like I now have, you don’t have much of a marriage left. The mate comes before ministry. Your children come before ministry. My guys are on their own now. I do not regret the time I spent with them, teaching them the way of God. The rewards outweigh the hard places.

    Ministries change with time and circumstances as well. I used to write a lot more than I do now. I still enjoy it, but God has given me another ministry that takes up a lot of my extra time. I am blessed by it. I thoroughly enjoy it…and I enjoy being with my mate.

    So, continue to say no to that which is not right for you at the time. Say Yes to what God want you to do. God bless.

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