Today I am going to try to answer a few questions from the messages I have received over the last week. I think they are some valid questions and I will do my best to answer them.
The first question was regarding finding someone that you can trust to talk to, to look to for sound spiritual advice. How do you know who this person or these people are in your life?
I think there are a few things that stick out to me on this one, things that I have used to determine who I can trust.
1. Look at their life. Are they always in the midst of some sort of chaos or drama? Now maybe people go to them a lot for advice...that is one thing, but when they are the common denominator in the midst of the chaos...RUN AWAY!
2. Are they trustworthy? I think the best determining factor in this is, do they talk about other people to you? If so, they are going to talk about you to other people! Bottom line, no exceptions.
3. Does their advice line up with scripture? I say this because there are some people in my life who are very wise, but are not Christ-followers. There are some things that I will absolutely take their advice on...I have been burned by a lot more “christians” than I have non-christians... There are many who take scripture out of context to give advice, completely changing the meaning of what the Bible intended...
4. Know Yourself...this may seem silly, but no one knows you better than you. You know your strengths, your weaknesses, your shortcomings...Right along with this is knowing scripture...If you know the word of God, you can’t be easily deceived. Most of the time we have that gut feeling about things anyway...
5. Are they the same sex as you? To some this may seem like a no-brainer, but to others maybe not. If you are going to be able to confide in someone and talk personally, it needs to be someone that is of the same sex. This is obviously most important if you are married or if the person you are seeking advice from is married. There have been times in our ministry where a single or married female wanted to seek counsel from my husband. Now, I understand that there are times that this is appropriate, in the right context, with the right accountability present...but on an ongoing basis it’s a big NO...RADAR UP...Don’t let the devil get a foothold here. I, as a married woman don’t need to be confiding to another man about my ministry stress, work stress, marriage stress, children stress, etc...What may start out as innocent can quickly turn to something much more damaging.
Overall I would say that there are about 3 people (besides my husband) that I can count on to talk to in times of need. These are people that I know will keep my confidence and will give me good advice. Use common sense...test the waters a bit and as that friendship/accountability grows you will know when you have a “keeper”.
Man...I am so long-winded sometimes. Maybe I should just right a book. Half of it might be about nothing, but it would be plenty long!!! :0)
The second question was how do we as women, juggle our kids, our husband, our personal life, our ministry...Oh man. I will TRY to keep this brief...I might have to continue it tomorrow, we will just see how this goes.
When Matthew and I first started out in ministry we had no children. We were also not full-time in ministry, simply volunteer staff. We did everything together and we loved it.
Our first full-time position was met with me being 5 months pregnant, a lot of extended family stress and, as I mentioned before, a pastor that felt like he’d done his time and now we were going to do ours! I was young, the morning sickness wasn’t terrible and I was able to stay pretty involved.
As the years went by and the number of children increased, I began to realize that my responsibilities to my children were growing and something had to give. I couldn’t be everything to everyone. I couldn’t keep my sanity.
I think the most important thing to remember when you are raising children...whether in the ministry or not...the priorities remain the same...
I like to break it down a little more when talking about balance and the family...it looks a little more like this...
time alone with God/time alone for me (this is different than the ministry)
husband then kids (notice that the word laundry is not here! :o) )
if you don’t work outside the home this means laundry, house cleaning, and all of the other wonderful things that come with being a mom! This is also where ministry comes in.
I think the bottom line here is that you just can’t do as much as you used to when you have kids. What you have to do is decide which things are most important in your ministry (or if you aren’t in the ministry, apply this to the volunteer work you do in your church).
This is something that there needs to be open communication with your spouse about. You HAVE to be on the same page. Your husband needs to understand where you are coming from. You don’t just all of a sudden hate the ministry, and hate him for being in the ministry. You just have different priorities for a season. As your children grow, they can be more involved and therefore, you can too.
Let me say again, communicate about this. There will be well-meaning churchgoers who each have their own opinion about how you should run your family. How much time you should be spending at the church. If you and your husband are on the same page there are no surprises. You’ve got his back and he’s got yours!
I regret not being more open at times with Matthew about this. I think we were both well-meaning in all that we did. Looking back, I can see how a lack of communication created some stress that didn’t need to be there. I started using my kids as an excuse to not go to things at the church. They were tired, they didn’t feel well...I was upset that the ministry was taking so much of my husband’s time and without realizing it, was only making things worse by staying away...now I didn’t need to come and bring my bad attitude along (and if you know my fiery Irish attitude...you will agree with me!) I needed to get my attitude right, communicate my feelings and be there!
Lessons learned in the mirror...
Ministry and life are all a balancing act; neither will succeed unless the other is in balance.
Communication is Key
Well, little miss Abigail is whining at my knee, wanting a “nak” and a “wink”. I must go for now!
Thanks for stopping by!