Last spring was intensely busy. Mothering four little ones ages five and under kept me on my toes from morning until evening, along with being a lay pastor’s wife and writing for several ministries. After weeks of falling behind on my task list, I finally sat down to get a handle on all the things that needed to be done. I spent a minute or two jotting down to-dos, and then I paused to take a look at the list I had just created. I could feel panic begin to rise in the pit of my stomach. How in the world was I going to accomplish all of this? The list was longer than the time I had to get it done, and new tasks were still coming to mind.
I put my head down, and I prayed. “Lord, I’m so overwhelmed. There’s so much to get done, and I have no idea where to start. Please help me.”
No sooner had I choked out my tearful petition than the Lord brought my answer: Titus 2:4–5. It flooded into my mind like a wave of hope.
Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
This passage reminded me what God’s priorities are for me as a young wife and mom: love my husband, love my children, keep my home.
My frantic feelings dissipated and were replaced by God’s peace and clarity. I was resolved to put His first things first. And I knew that when I did, I would be able to see exactly how God wanted those other “outside the home” ministry opportunities to fit into my life, too.
Opportunities or Priorities?
As a pastor’s wife and a young woman actively involved ministry, many opportunities—good opportunities—arise to serve outside my home. There are also the voices from the world that tell me that the work done outside my home is what’s truly valuable.
If I’m not constantly on guard, it can be all too easy to subconsciously slip into the mindset that my family is a hindrance from the “better thing.” Oh, I’d never say that I believe this, but there are times that I’ve seen it sneak out when I’m interrupted from working on a writing project to clean up a milk spill, or when a conversation with a woman needing encouragement is cut short because a child woke up early from her nap, or when my husband calls me to take care of an urgent task when I had different plans for the afternoon. My reactions are telling of my true priorities.
As a Christian, I’m called to trust that God’s calling on my life is far better than living for my own gain or selfish ambition. When His ways are trusted and obeyed, life holds far more joy and contentment than I could conjure up when I’m at the helm.
Living Out God’s Priorities
For those of us who are involved in ministry and have young children at home, how do we intentionally pursue and fulfill these incredible assignments from the Lord? Here are three things that have been key as I’ve sought to obey Him in this area.
1. Be Serious about Spending Time with Him
How do we learn someone’s heart and grow in our love for them? By spending time with them. It is no different with our Creator and Savior. When we spend time with Him, we grow in our love for Him, and obeying His call on our lives becomes a delight because it flows out of that love.
As a mom with little ones, it can be especially challenging to prioritize time with the Lord. Long nights, early mornings, and constant demands on our time, energy, and attention make it difficult to find moments to sit at His feet. But spending time with Him is what I need every single day to remind me of the truth of the gospel.
Setting aside time with the Lord in this season usually takes creativity and thinking outside the box. We can pray while feeding the baby in the middle of the night or while taking a shower. We can listen to an audio Bible in the car or during meal prep. We can slip into our rooms while the children are napping for a few moments of stillness before the Lord. We can train our children to sit quietly with their own little Bible story books while we read. We are never hindered from seeking the Lord because of our circumstances. He is always near, ready to commune with us. As Psalm 105:4 says,
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
I’m comforted by remembering that God cares about this more than we do. When we make Him our first priority and ask Him to give us wisdom for how to spend time with Him when our children are young, He will give it.
2. Ask: Does This Align with God’s Priorities for Me?
New ministry opportunities arise often, and at first glance, I’m not sure whether I should take them on. It’s been very clarifying to ask myself: Is this going to help or hinder me from God’s priorities for me (loving my family and keeping my home)?
If there’s a way to take on that ministry opportunity without neglecting my family and home, and if my husband is on board, then I’m free to take it on. But, if it will cause extra stress in our home and hinder my ability to serve in my home and with my family, it’s probably best to let it go.
I’ve discovered that when I embrace home and family as my priority, it strengthens our ministry as a family and my ministry as an individual. I don’t feel uncomfortable having people into our home because I’m not bringing people into a disaster (well, most of the time). When I’m being intentional about investing in our children, they aren’t shaken when I’m busier with writing or meetings or any other thing. I’m reminded over and over that God’s way works.
3. A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
A few years ago, just after we had our second child, my husband and I realized the way we handled our calendar needed to change. When someone asked to meet with me, I would find an open spot in our week and schedule it in. Sometimes this meant two or three people coming over to meet in a day, and soon the effects showed in our home.
There was never time to get all the necessary household work finished because I was constantly having people over. So, after praying and seeking the Lord for wisdom, we decided to start scheduling everything. Laundry had a time slot, dishes had a time slot, and having people over had time slots. I had to say no more often to meeting with people, but it greatly increased my ability to minister well. I wasn’t as frantic and overwhelmed, our home was more peaceful, and our children (as little as they were) clearly noticed the difference.
Over the years we’ve had to tweak our daily rhythms as our family and circumstances have changed. But we discovered that when we prioritize family and home, we have more freedom to be flexible when needed. There is no “one size fits all” schedule, so it’s essential that each mom (and ideally each husband and wife together) ask the Lord for wisdom for establishing daily rhythms.
I think Susan Hunt put it perfectly: “When a woman is absorbed with God’s glory, she will interpret her life according to His Truth.”1
Deeper Fulfillment and Joy
When we take God at His Word—that it is most valuable and rewarding to follow His priorities for our lives over what we feel—we discover just how perfect and good His ways truly are. When we consider it a privilege to love our husbands and children first and care well in Jesus’ name for the homes God has given us, we find deeper fulfillment and joy than we ever could have in pursuing our own agendas. When God’s first things are first, He gives us significantly greater contentment, however much or little ministry we do beyond the four walls of our homes.