"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:11,12
Well, I finally found some time to write Part 2 of this post. In this article I wanted to address an issue that is not usually spoken of within Christian circles, especially in our churches or other various, Christ-centered, ministries and/or organizations. The main issue that I would like to cover is when you are over-committing yourself in outside ministries. What does that look like? How do you know that is taking place in your home? How can you prevent being over-committed again? We often hear amongst our fellow believers to get more involved and use our gifts for the Lord, (which by the way, I am a BIG advocate of), but there is a Biblical order to ministry. Read The Work of Ministry Part 1 for the details.
So, how do you know you are over-committed in a ministry? I know from my own personal experience that my home life will start to fall apart if you will, meaning, my laundry will pile up along with the dishes. Clutter will start to become like permanent fixtures and look like new furniture in my home as well. All in all, the “Keeper of the Home” is no longer keeping it because I am too busy serving Jesus outside of my home. My house, along with those that are living in it, are being neglected for the sake of outside service to the Lord.
In the past, I have also found myself asking my husband for a lot of help. Now, I don’t mean with just a few things within my day, but on going things like asking him to help with dinner, to help with the dishes, to help with the children, to help with the laundry, to get some groceries and to help in the ministry that I was involved in! I noticed that I had asked him for so much help that he was becoming MY ‘helpmate’ rather than what the Bible had to say about me being HIS ‘helpmate’. I was clearly outside of God’s will for my life.
So, today I have learned a few things about serving the Lord outside of my marriage, my children and my home.
#1 Keep a close eye on my walk with the Lord and make sure I spend plenty of time with Him.
#2 Watch my countenance. Am I becoming bitter because I am over committed? Do I snap at my husband and/or children when I come home because I am exhausted from serving others? This is what I would refer to as the ‘Martha Syndrome’. “But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Luke 10:40,41
#3 Be mindful of the Biblical priorities that is clearly defined in God's Word for me as a wife and mother.
#4 Keep a schedule so I will know if I actually do have the time to serve others that day/week/or month.
#5 Remind myself that it is okay to say 'No' when asked to serve. I do not need to feel guilty because I can't do it all.
This brings me to my next point. I have recently made a decision, (a very hard one I might add); to no longer continue a long-term, on-going ministry. (That would be #6 on the list! Think long and hard about being involved in a long-term, on-going ministry especially when you have children. So, if you are a mother like me, remember the season that you are in will only be for a short while. There are many opportunities and capacities that we can serve in that will not take so much time away from our husbands, children and our homes. God uses us each and every day as we pour into our families. He will ALSO use our talents, skills and gifts to further His kingdom outside of our homes as well. But be mindful that you are not spending too much time away from your first ministries. There are plenty of ways to serve Jesus that can be short-term, i.e., serving a friend in need, watching someone's kids, bringing meals to a shut-in, writing a letter to encourage a sister in the Lord, etc.)
In closing, I have some questions for you and I do hope you respond so others who read this post can glean from your past experiences as well.
How do you know you have over-committed yourself in outside ministries?
What are some of your indicators?
Do you set up some boundaries?
Are you able to say ‘no’ when others ask you to serve? Why or why not?
How to do you prevent yourself from being over-committed again?