When God called me overseas, I had no idea how much time I’d spend cooking, cleaning, home schooling, playing games, and driving kids to sports practice. Just as if I were still back home in America. I even asked myself, “Why am I here, anyway? I can mop floors and teach reading back home.”
I had no idea that when I led a women’s study group, I’d feel bad about leaving my kids home with my husband, and when I spent days on end caring for a sick child without leaving the house, I’d feel vaguely guilty for neglecting my “ministry” responsibilities.
Years ago I asked a more experienced woman, “How do you manage to have a ministry outside of your home?”Her answer flabbergasted me.
She said simply, “I tried that once, and it didn’t work for me.”
I’ve been chuckling over it ever since. Her open, honest attitude somehow freed me to be myself and find my own way.
Mothers Serving Overseas Come in all Shapes:I’ve seen that women servants come in all different colors of the rainbow. Some are basically “working” mothers, hiring childcare or sending kids to local daycare or school while they serve or study the language. Others choose to center their lives more closely around their homes and children.
Find the Balance that Feels Right for You:I’m probably somewhere in the middle, which means I burn the candle at both ends! I enjoy homeschooling and caring for my family, but my heart yearns for more than just “staying at home.” So making my home a center of hospitality has worked for me. I also visit women friends when I can.
Let Go of GuiltI tend to compare myself with other women who seem to have a higher level of involvement. This is dangerous because inevitably I then feel guilty over not doing more. But I’m learning to relax in who God is calling me to be and also to give this freedom to others, who may not share my views.
Comments From Other Women Servants:Last week I asked other women for their views on ministry inside and outside of their homes. Here is what they said:
- “Part of loving my family...is teaching them…how to love others outside of our circle.”
- “My family is my first ‘ministry.’ Any ‘ministry’ work that happens outside the home is just icing on the cake.”
- “Since the kids were 6 mo. old, we've had roughly 15-25 hrs/week of childcare for them.”
- “Considering the difficulties our kids go through to adjust to the new cultures, we need to give them the appropriate mother time. Actually, I find Turks very family oriented…As much as possible, I liked to do ministry that included my children. So often the children when they were young were the catalyst to relationships with other Turkish mothers.”
- “Knowing myself, I will always work more than I should…The Lord has given me kids to slow me down, to disciple me, and to teach me that my value doesn't come from my productivity...
- “Balancing family vs. ministry isn't possible. Once things are "balanced", someone inevitably gets sick, a situation or crises arises in the work, or some other thing comes up. When we view family as ministry, you can move your fulcrum to one end or the other as needs arise. ..
- “Perhaps our most lasting and important gift that we give to our Turkish friends, is the model of a family that is submitted to Christ and trying to make him central.”
- “While I had children at home, my strategy was to make home my primary place for outreach, discipleship and showing hospitality. Serving my husband and kids was my primary ministry, and they supported and helped me in reaching out and serving others too.”