Last week I averaged five hours of sleep a night, attended a meeting wearing a shirt that was covered in what I hoped was drool, and received a text message from my babysitter that my daughter had rolled over for the first time—and I wasn’t there to see it because I was at work. I know that healthy and productive ministry comes from overflow, from the abundance we experience from our personal seeking and time with the Lord. As the mother of a 6-month-old, however, I frequently feel like I’m running on empty. I’m in a life stage where my thoughts are constantly divided, and taking time for myself—no matter how important—is a laughable concept. I know I’m not alone. As I adjust to my new normal (which I can only assume will always be fueled by copious amounts of coffee), I’ve come up with the following game plan.
1. Allow others to serve and support.
In ministry, we sometimes fall into the trap of believing that it's our job to support and serve and never allow others the blessing of supporting and serving us. As mothers, we feel the additional pressure of supporting our family, which in my case includes not only my daughter, who relies on me for pretty much everything, but also my husband, who works full-time, recently started graduate school, and leads his own ministry efforts. It’s easy to slip into the faulty thinking that it's now my sole responsibility to bear the burden of our growing family, adding it onto the pile of responsibilities that I’m hoarding as though I’m the only one capable of taking care of them.
I need to remember the community I've worked hard to build, and allow them to step in and help. Many of them are begging for the opportunity to do so. I’ve had to admit that my reflexive refusal of help doesn’t make me Super Woman—it makes me prideful. And tired. We’ve brought little ones into a community we love, so why not let them see the beauty of a community that supports?
2. Instead of striving for balance, work to be present.
Attempting to be everything to everyone at all times means nobody is getting you at your best. When I’m at work, I sometimes find myself fighting to focus on the task at hand. When I’m at home, I often get distracted by ministry needs—like trying to figure out how to get books to a small-group leader who couldn’t pick them up at the church, or mentally planning out our new recruitment strategy.
The work we do is important—both at home and in ministry—and it deserves our full, undivided attention. As hard as it is to admit, I have a much easier time focusing and being present during my workday. I have many more years of experience in diving into ministry tasks than motherhood. There is comfort in what I know. Because of this, for the last several weeks I have made it a practice to leave my phone in the other room on my day off. While this may frustrate my best friend who frequently texts me and eagerly wants me to respond, it has forced me to create boundaries that reinforce my priorities when I am at home.