How do you balance life and ministry?! It’s probably the number one question I’m asked. Like most women, I want to have and do it all. I want to pastor an amazing church. I want to raise super-hero children who never roll their eyes when I ask them to load the dishwasher. And someday, I want the “Proverbs 31 woman” to approach me and say: “Wow! Carolyn, someone should write Proverbs 32 about you.”
Unfortunately, however, in the past, if such a proverb were written about me, it would likely be about a “fractured woman”… someone who’s expectations are wildly unrealistic – whose peace is scattered around the room like my eldest daughter’s clothing. : )
Thankfully though, God has been giving me insights on how to hold everything together and have FUN doing it. So, allow me to share three disciplines that can enable you to have a supernatural amount of balance – no matter what kind of chaos is swirling around you.
1. Know Yourself and your Spouse: Don’t compare yourself with other couples, pastors or leaders. You and your husband are a unique combo. God has a special pace, season and journey for you. None of us would ever feel bad that we can’t sing like Adele; cook like Rachel Ray; or work out like Jillian Michaels. And yet, I constantly meet women who are comparing themselves to people who are uniquely gifted and passionate about certain things. But who did God make YOU to be? Don’t get me wrong: All of us are called to be healthy; but, we all have different personalities, drives, and passions. So take personality tests (like myersbriggs.org; strengthsfinder.com). And, if God made you to be a fish, stop whining that you’re bad at climbing trees!
2. Know Your Season: Juggling is all about rhythm. Whether you juggle 3 balls or 12, all jugglers still only have two hands. So what’s the real difference between expert jugglers and the rest of us? Rhythm. They know how to get into a new rhythm every time a ball is tossed to them. They immediately adjust; and they never focus too much on one ball. In the same way, re-evaluate every priority and commitment every 3 months. Not every opportunity or promotion is from God. Live in touch with your season! Create a “Not-To-Do” list. Say “no” to anything that steals your family’s peace. Success in one area of your life will not compensate for failure in another. In every new season, new move, new job, new baby, re-evaluate EVERYTHING. Find your rhythm and protect it without apology.
3. Spend Quality time with God: You can read your Bible and still not have quality time with him. Much like Martha in Luke 10, we can “hang around Jesus” but not “sit at his feet.” Think about it: Martha was standing in the literal presence of the Prince of Peace. And what was she doing? She was worrying! Even worse, she literally triangulated Jesus into a fight with her sister (Awkward!) Yet Jesus rebuked her saying: “Mary has chosen the better thing. And that won’t be taken from her.”
So the question is this: Despite all of our spiritual motions, are we really sitting at Jesus’ feet? Remember, “prayer avails much.” (James 5:16) i.e.: the more you pray, the less you have to work! Or as Paul put it: “Produce work through faith,” rather than sweat. (1 Thess.1:3)
Quite often, rather than striving to figure out our lives, to make more money; to parent the kids better; to manage our schedules better, we simply need to sit at God’s feet. Why? Because, “[God] knows what we need even before we ask!” (Mt. 6:8) Besides, God has insights that can change EVERYTHING… about rhythm, about seasons, about everything you need for life and godliness! (2 Peter 1:3)
So beautiful friend and woman in ministry: He WILL speak. But let’s make sure to give him the time; and let’s listen!