Is My Ministry Over Once I Have Kids?
When God allowed my dream of being a mom to become a reality, life as I knew it took a fast turn from early mornings and late nights on campus to middle of the night feedings and diaper changes. My husband and I had been married 7 years, and I had been working on campus full-time with college students for ten. I loved being a mom, and God gave me an easy baby to “cut my teeth” on in this motherhood thing.
But as baby girl #2 quickly followed, life felt full just with the responsibilities of being a wife and mom to these little ones God had entrusted to my care. I began to wonder “How do you fit this all in and do it well? Can I still do ministry and be a good wife and mom?”
As I wrestled and sought God in those early years of motherhood, I learned to embrace the beauty of how these two callings could find great harmony with each other. While it has been challenging at times, God continues to walk with me through each season of life, and He’s taught me several lessons about being a Godly mom who continues to make disciples.
Lesson 1: I need to let my capacity limit me, but not my desire.
When I was a young mom, a mentor shared with me, “When you become a mom your desire for giving your life away doesn’t change, but your capacity does.” My capacity for ministry has certainly been limited since becoming a mom. Yet, there are other times if I am honest, I have let other things limit me as well:
- Fear: “Am I still relevant to college students as a mom rolling up in my minivan with two toddlers in tow?”
- Comfort: “It’s so much work to get the kids ready and out the door to the weekly meeting.” “It would be more convenient not to have to pack the whole family up and all crowd into one hotel room at the student conference.”
- Desire: Have I gotten comfortable with my “mom schedule” of cooking, cleaning, carpooling to practices or school events and just spending time with other mom friends and their kids?
God gently reminds me that when I started walking with Him over 20 years ago, my deepest desire was to give my life away so other people might know Christ. He is asking me to fulfill His Great Commission right where I am…as a mom. It will look different than it did when I was single, but being a mom doesn’t excuse me from the command or privilege of God’s mission.
Lesson 2: Being involved in the mission helps develop Kingdom-minded kids.
One of my husband’s and my greatest desires is to raise Kingdom-minded kids, kids who care more about the eternal than the temporary and think outside of themselves. Yet every year I, like every Mom, can be tempted to totally fill up our schedule with hobbies, sports and “good things.”
I want my kids to be involved in sports and activities, yet at the same time I want them to realize that Jesus takes priority in our family. Sometimes that will mean making hard decisions which cost them something, like missing out on a summer activity so our family can go to the summer discipleship project and invest in students. This past year it meant being away from school and their friends so our family could spend 6 months overseas helping launch new ministry on college campuses in the Philippines.
Do I feel like my kids have missed out? No, actually quite the opposite. I feel like they have gained a valuable kingdom mindset.
Lesson 3: Students and my kids need a model.
College students today need to see the model of a Godly family more than ever. Every time we have students into our home, they get to observe a real-life family who is seeking to honor God in action. They get to see how we relate with each other and how we parent our kids. Many grew up in broken homes where they didn’t have a model. So many students over the years have said “you were the first Christ-centered home I got to see and be a part of and that helped shape the way I view a family.”
My kids realize they play such a big role in this, and it is very impactful in their lives too. We pray together before students come over that if they don’t already know Christ, they would want to know Him as a result of being in our home. Students love our girls so well, and often our girls come to see people we are discipling as their friends.
In turn, one of the key things I can model for my kids by sharing ministry with them is an authentic joy that comes through engaging in God’s mission. We are on mission together as a family and are creating a reality and perception in our kids that ministry and family are not in competition with each other.
We have all heard the horror stories of kids raised in ministry families who walked away from God because “the ministry” became a divisive force in their family. Brian and Joanne Lewis who work with Campus Outreach and are respected mentors to us had this to say,
“If as a mom and dad, we are living out God’s mission, evangelizing and making disciples wholeheartedly and with joyful hearts, our children will not feel competitive with being in ministry but they will actually view it as a positive thing. Our kids will then begin to develop the heart at an early age that serving Christ is not an obligation but an absolute joy.”
Lesson 4: God isn’t asking for perfection but faithfulness.
I love how there is such natural integration between college ministry and mom life if I just don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
It can be very natural having a student join us for a meal that I will be making for my family anyway, or having a girl I am discipling come with me to a kid’s sports practice and have her bring a friend along who doesn’t know Christ. I just have to be strategic with my planning and keep things simple.
As much as I want to have a clean house and an uninterrupted quiet time or the perfect one to one with a student, that’s rarely the way it all plays out.
Yet I love that God is not asking me to be a mom who does it all perfectly, but a mom who keeps her heart in the game and is faithful to what has been entrusted to my care.
Elisabeth Elliot says this when it comes to motherhood and mission:
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”