As a fulltime Mama and fulltime children’s minister, probably the greatest lesson I’ve learned over the past 4+ years is that balance is unobtainable. At least for me. I think a lot of the mama guilt and a lot of the employee guilt that we struggle with is based on the false idea that to be perfectly fair equals all time has to be evenly divided. If I spend four hours with my family, I need to spend at least four hours on work. There is a continual guilt because life just doesn’t divide into halves very well. And then VBS week comes along and any hope of balance goes quickly out the window.
Instead, I’ve learned that the two key words are: rhythm and seasons.
Rhythm: Instead of struggling with wondering if everything is even, I should focus on a rhythm of life that meets the needs of my family and accomplishes the tasks of ministry. Rhythm focuses on making healthy choices and making an intentional plan for each day so that you make sure you are a good steward of your time. 20 hour days are not part of a healthy rhythm. Lack of sleep or lack of downtime or lack of time to eat are not healthy rhythms and lead to bad things. Finding a rhythm that you are comfortable and that works for your family is what is important.
Seasons: Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season…” Ministry is no exception. Jim Wideman often says that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. When I think in that perspective I realize that I don’t have to be all things to all people in all seasons. I can do an awful lot more now in ministry than I could when my girls were babies. I would have killed myself trying to do it all then. I had to realize that for a season, I was limited in certain ways. I would be in ministry for a long time. They would only be babies for a season. Right now they are preschoolers. A new season will come in few years when they are in school for most of the day. Hard seasons get better.
There are also different seasons throughout the ministry year. VBS week or camp week are totally unfair to my family. I can be wracked with guilt, or I can recognize that this is a very brief season. There are other times throughout the year when ministry is slow and that is the season to invest a little more time with my family. I will try to take vacation or plan special fun times right before or right after busy ministry seasons. When I remember that it is temporary, I can do what God’s called me to do without fighting quite so much guilt.
God’s job for me is to discern what He wants me to do in the season of ministry that I’m in. He loves my family and my ministry more than I do. Only by following His leading can I serve both well, and keep my sanity!