March 11, 2014

Help for Working Church Planting Wives on the Balance Thing

If I could change one thing about The Church Planting Wife, it would be to add an interview with a working church planting wife. Countless church planting wives are supporting their families and many planters are bi-vocational, and this is an area of church planting that I believe needs to be addressed more. 

Because I don't work full-time outside the home, I can't address or resource those of you who are. But I've asked someone who can, and you'll be hearing from her this week on the blog while I'm away in Ethiopia. Kristen Lunceford is a working church planting wife. She and her family live in Las Vegas, NV, where, in 2011, God called she and her husband, Ryan, to start the first English-speaking Evangelical Covenant church in the state of Nevada. Advance Church began in their living room with five adults, a golden retriever, and a vision to see thousands of lives altered by Jesus and mobilized for his glory through a network of churches in the Las Vegas area and the Western United States. She works full-time for Academic Innovations. You can connect with Kristen on her website,, Facebook, or Twitter. Here's her story:

“How do you balance it all?”

I get asked this question at least once a month and, because I’ve never mastered the art of the sugarcoated conversation, I always give the same blunt, two-word response:

I don’t.

“You don’t? But you work for that publishing company still, right? And you are planting a church in Las Vegas, and you have three young, very active kids. And you are a photographer and you write and you keep your house clean and your family eats around the table together every night and it just seems…”

Hold it right there, sister, and take a breath. It just seems like I’m balancing it all, but I’m actually only juggling some of those balls well on any given day. The rest are bouncing around on the ground waiting to be picked back up when the time is right. If you don’t believe me, just open the door to my laundry room.

But we’ll get to all of that in a minute.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been a pastor’s wife for ten years, a mother for nine years, and a church planter for four years. Through it all, we’ve needed to be a dual-income family, which has meant me telecommuting from home part time as a director of communications while also operating a small photography business (in addition to everything else that comes with starting a church and keeping our marriage and our kids’ lives on the rails).

Have my arms ever trembled trying to hold it all? You bet. And if you’ve experienced how challenging and overwhelming it can be to add a job (or two) to the already hands-full life that is church planting and raising a family, then I’m sure your biceps have felt the burn as well.

If so, please stick with me through the rest of this post and the next one because I have some things to share with you—things I’ve learned about being a working church planter’s wife that have enabled me to forget about trying to balance a do-it-all life and instead surrender my striving to an already-done-it-all God.

But before I get to the practical, boundaries-setting post (it’ll be more fun than it sounds, I promise!), I need to let you in on an important secret that underscores everything. So c’mere here minute and lean in. Ready? Here goes:

Balance isn’t a thing. It’s a sham.

I don’t care what the January 2014 issue of Real Simple magazine told you. The “balanced life” is a supersized lie with a side of bogus. Something is always going to be unhinged and a little unbalanced because real life feels a whole lot more like juggling balls than it looks like walking a tightrope of evenly distributed weight and priorities.

How do I know this? Well, because our crazy circus of a life became a lot more enjoyable once I surrendered my perfectionism and finally accepted the fact that the balls of our work/church/home/family responsibilities were never going to move with fluidly through the air at the same time.

No matter what you read or pin or hear, ladies, there is just no way to nail it and be awesome at everything all at once. More often than not, we have to learn to be okay with letting a ball or two bobble at our feet until the time is right to pick it back up. (For an example of how this played out in my life when we relocated our family to start Advance Church, take a peek at this post.)

Like, sometimes we are going to sign homework folders and pack healthy lunches and read stories and listen to our little people like a boss. But then other times when, say, a busy week at work or church leaves us scrambling to find more hours in the day, our kids are going to skip significant parts of their choreographed bedtime routine, fish dirty socks out of the hamper before school, and purchase hot lunch with insufficient funds in their account because their frazzled mom said so.

Why? Because we are juggling, not balancing. But’s IT’S OKAY. We’ll get the parenting (and laundry) ball back in the air next week. We may have to set something else down in order to make that happen, but we’ll figure it out and God’s grace will be sufficient as we do, amen?

So when the balls drop—whether it’s for a day or for a week or for a stretch of months—we’d best plant our clown shoes in Ecclesiastes 3 and live like we believe the Bible is true. Because if God means everything he says (and—spoiler alert—He does!), then there is no “balancing everything.” Instead, there is “a season and a time for every matter under Heaven…” (v. 1)

Including, I’ve learned, a time to slay it and a time to stink at it.

Because, again, there is just. no. way. to nail it and be awesome at everything all at once. God doesn’t expect that of us, and we shouldn’t demand it of ourselves.

So take a deep breath (and a looksee at Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), think about what it might look like for you to juggle instead of balance, and then meet me back here in the next post to discuss some ways to not just survive this hands-full life, but to actually enjoy it, clown shoes and all.

You can read the second part of this post here