What should a mother’s role be in the church? Should she focus primarily on raising her children, or is there margin for other ministry pursuits?
Rebekah Hannah is a mother who also happens to be in full-time ministry within her church. In her trending piece at Gospel Taboo, she writes about the struggle and the balance of finding and figuring out your calling as a mother. “It is every mother’s role to raise her child no matter her location,” Rebekah writes. And yet, most mothers also want to be a part of ministry within their churches, even when time and resources feel tight. “[I]t can often feel like we couldn't possibly have anything left to give towards ministry outside of our immediate family during this season of life,” she notes.
In light of this, Rebekah shares 4 helpful tips for mothers as they navigate raising children and serving in the church. I encourage all moms to head over to the Gospel Taboo and read Rebekah’s piece in full—it has much encouragement for the mom who finds herself struggling to make sense of ministry and motherhood.
1. Don’t Separate Ministry and Parenting
Our goal as parents is to help our children know, love and follow after Christ. “But the way they know that is by watching us actually DO that,” Rebekah says. “They see us hanging out, having parties, teaching Bible studies, counseling and opening our tiny home to whoever needs the couch.”
On the flip side, when you let others into your daily life as a mom, you’re ministering to those people too. “I can promise you that those whom God has placed in my life for ministry are impacted 100 times more through watching me fail and repent, succeed and rejoice (all the while teaching or counseling them!) than if we just sit together for 2 hours a week,” Rebekah notes.
2. Be Intentional
We long to be influential, all the while not appreciating the influence we already have. God has already placed certain people in your life. You can assume they are in your life for a reason: for you to show them the love of Christ. How can you intentionally minister to those people in a way that includes your family and in ways that involve your gifting?
Rebekah shares a few examples of how this might play out. “Should a specific woman be connected with another specific woman with similar needs? Are there two women who should read the same book? Does this dear friend need to spend time taking my kid to get ice cream because she’ll see the joy of small things in life? We are called to speak truth in love and part of that is being willing to help the people around us engage in the real life around them.”
3. Your Ministry is about How You Life Your Life
“One of the most selfless things you can do in ministry to those in the church is to let someone be a part of your actual family,” Rebekah writes. This is hard to do. Most women struggle to open their homes when their house is a disaster zone, or having a friend over when all you really want to do is binge watch your favorite TV show.
As Bread & Wine author Shauna Niequist writes, “What people aren’t craving is perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like their home.”
And when our children see us step out of our comfort zones, they take note. “Our children do not want our perfection. Perfection is too high of a standard for them to look up to. They feel defeated when the example is perfection. The only standard our children should live up to is God’s standard, and that is grace through faith,” iBelieve writer Brenda Rodgers notes.
4. Know Your Own Capacity.
“Understanding and acknowledging our own limits and abilities, as well as allowing there to be freedom for other women to have limits and abilities very different from our own, is a mark of wisdom,” writes Rebekah.
Everyone’s limits look different, the key is knowing what yours are. Author Nicole Unice writes this about limits in her new book, Brave Enough:
“Some of us may be able to get up early, go for a run, make breakfast for our kids, send off some e-mails, and kiss our husbands as they leave the house—all before 7 a.m. Others of us may be deeply focused on and attentive to just one area of life, finding that multitasking and full calendars actually make us less of ourselves, not more. We are, in fact, not ‘every woman.’ Each of us is only one woman, one individual person with physical, emotional, and relational limits. We can never be both the fullest expression of ourselves and at the same time by everything to everyone. And the more we try to be everything, the less we are able to actually be something.”
Above all, mothers need to know that motherhood is not their identity. Nor is their identity found in their ministry. iBelieve writer Cara Joyner says this about where we find our worth and purpose:
“Long before we were moms, we were known, loved and wanted. We were loved to the point of death on a cross and adopted as daughters of the King. THAT is our identity. We are mamas, but we are also daughters who have been anointed to do Kingdom work in this broken world.
Yes, motherhood is HUGE kingdom work, perhaps some of the most difficult Kingdom work we could encounter. Never believe the hideous lie that says it is anything less than that; and never believe the lie that says it is your only Kingdom work, because that is something we are called to everywhere, everyday.
There are seasons when this is quite literally it. There are no margins, no spaces to think beyond our homes. But when those seasons pass (and they will pass), what will we do? It may be as unplanned as stopping to talk with the homeless woman on the corner or encouraging the new mom across the street, or it may be as organized as volunteering to serve on a team in your church or using your gifts to create something new.”
Moms, how do you balance motherhood and ministry? Share in the comments section.