Many of us who serve in women’s ministry feel the weight of unmet expectations. No matter how hard we work, there is always more that could be done. Women don’t stop needing spiritual help and encouragement at 5 p.m. We wish we had more time to prepare Bible studies, more energy to expand our mentoring ministry, and greater capacity to plan creative and edifying events. As stay-at-home restrictions were implemented, the new frontier of Zoom-enabled ministry opened up even greater ministry opportunities. How does a leader know when to stop and rest?
For ministry leaders who are wives, mothers, or caregivers, another layer is added to this complex question. Since ministry in the home is our first priority, it’s challenging to know when to stop striving in one area to give attention to the other.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to help us know when we’ve done enough.
When multiple needs arise at once and we feel the crushing weight of expectations, our response is telling. Do we try to muscle our way through ministry or do we trust in God’s power to accomplish His purposes? We all need wisdom to know when we have done enough, but we will never have a satisfactory answer until we first acknowledge that God is able.
His Strength Is Made Perfect in Weakness
Whether we’re married or mothers or not, we all juggle multiple priorities. For that reason, it’s essential that we learn to look at our work and say “good enough.”
It’s not that we glory in haphazard, half-baked work, but we shouldn’t be paralyzed by our limitations. We can move forward in confidence because He is unlimited in His capacity, wisdom, and power.
When the apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord to take his weakness away, God responded “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul’s example shows us a God-centered approach to Christian ministry. Not only do we acknowledge our weakness, but we boast in God’s strength. It is a deep-rooted trust in God’s empowering work in our lives that gives us confidence to move forward.
He Gives What He Requires
In his book, The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbes wrote, “God knows that we have nothing of ourselves . . . he requires no more than he gives, but gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives.”
In other words, God doesn’t require more from you than He enables you to do. And what’s more, whatever you do relying on Him, He accepts. Weakness is never an end in itself, but because God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, we can trust God to provide what we need today.
Practically speaking, we see this work out in our lives when our time is limited. Perhaps our children need extra help with homework or are unexpectedly sick, and we watch the time we had set aside to prepare for a Bible study quickly drain away. In these moments when we feel hard-pressed to get things done, do we trust that God will help us prepare in a shorter amount of time? What’s more, do we trust that God’s Word is powerful? It will not return to Him empty (Isa. 55:11).
We Are Limited; God Is Not
When we are plagued by guilt or insecurity about the quality or quantity of our work, it’s important to remember:
- We labor to share God’s Word with precision and creativity, but only God makes His Word effective.
- We share the gospel with our children, but only God saves them.
- We work hard until we can’t, but only God never tires or grows weary (Isa. 40:28).
- We support our husband as he leads, but only God can make his leadership fruitful.
- We try to make our homes a place of peace and thriving, but only God can create internal peace and a thriving heart in our loved ones.
When Have I Done Enough?
Even so, we can still struggle to answer the question, “When have I done enough?” It would be nice if there was a formula or a spreadsheet to help us divide our time and energy, but it just doesn’t work that way. We each need to seek the Lord’s guidance, consider our capacity, and, if we are married, consider whether this ministry fits with the direction our husband is leading the family.
In most cases, we could do more, but that doesn’t always mean that we should. God is not impressed by our ingenuity or physical stamina. He is pleased when we serve relying on Him.
Knowing God is working in and through us with unlimited power is freeing. When we bump up against our limits, the good news is that God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). We may need to work harder and trust that God will provide strength beyond what we could have imagined. Or we may need to say “good enough” and rest. Either way, our actions are not driven by fear and insecurity, but by a solid trust in God’s ability and provision.
If you struggle to know if you have done enough, perhaps you need to stop asking what more you can do and spend a bit of time wrestling with the question behind the question: Is God able?