October 5, 2012

Seasons in Ministry

Having our first child rocked my world. I had been warned that the sleepless nights and round-the-clock nursing made showering and other daily necessities almost an impossibility, so I was prepared as much as one can prepare for the delightful combination of hormones and zombie-ness. But I was not prepared for nor did I anticipate moving into a new season of ministry alongside my husband.

At the time my husband was a college minister. This means late night broomball, porta-potties left on your lawn (don't ask), and of course deeply profound spiritual activities sprinkled in somewhere. Before baby, I did everything alongside Kyle: leadership meetings, retreats, barn dances, and lunches with college girls.

After baby, I did absolutely none of those things. I saw my husband off to his evening activities or meetings and stayed home with my baby, who liked to cry. I specifically remember a summer night when Kyle kissed me goodbye on his way out for midnight broomball as I nursed Will in the nursery rocking chair. When he returned at 3 am, I was once again feeding the baby in that nursery rocking chair, bleary-eyed and exhausted.

I felt purposeless and adrift. Feeding a baby and changing diapers didn't feel spiritually significant. All those wonderful, important things I had done pre-baby were things of the past and this was my new life. For a while, I didn't like my new life, and I mourned what I had lost or given up. But then the truth struck me that my identity is not "pastor's wife"and that what I considered spiritually significant was skewed. And I realized that I had moved into a new season--I could still serve alongside my husband, but church ministry would get much less of my time and attention, and what I could do with a baby in tow would be drastically different than before.

I have had this same realization at different points along the ministry road. Just as there are seasons of motherhood and seasons of marriage, there are seasons of ministry. These seasons often correspond with seasons of marriage and motherhood but also health, trials, the type of ministry our husbands are doing, and work status. Sometimes we're heavily involved in the church and sometimes we aren't. Sometimes we can lead and sometimes we can't. Sometimes we say yes and sometimes we have to say no.

My seasons in ministry have fluctuated with pregnancies and babies, challenges my children have faced, my husband's job, my spiritual needs, the age of my children, and the needs of the church. At each transition, whether it's stepping in or pulling out of a ministry opportunity, I have to remind myself that there are these seasons and not to get too worked up about one thing or another. After all, my God and my family are my most important priorities. If I am productive in ministry but fail my family, I have failed entirely.

We are not our ministry. We are first Christians, then wives and moms. And that never goes out of season.