Lies Leaders Believe: Women’s Ministry Is My #1 Role

We are gathered in a circle with our Bibles open. I’m in teacher mode, eager to see light bulbs flashing above the other learners’ heads as they grasp deep, biblical truth. Shepherding these people is one of my life’s greatest honors.

This isn’t a peek into a women’s Bible study, though you’ll often find me teaching God’s Word to circles of women. It’s not a snapshot of me leading a women’s conference, though I do that sometimes too.

This is a glimpse into my children’s bedroom, where I frequently gather with my four boys to talk about Jesus and His Word.

In order of importance I am a follower of Christ, a wife and a momma, then a women’s ministry leader. But lest I paint myself as the poster child for women who have mastered the work, home, and ministry balance or talk you into thinking I keep all of the plates spinning perfectly, allow me to get real.

A Bad Theology of Family

My husband and I chose childlessness for nearly a decade because we didn’t want our “ministry” to be hampered by children. Looking back, it’s clear that we had a bad theology of family. The reasons for our wrong thinking were vast and varied. There’s no single source to point the finger toward, but it’s worth noting that it’s possible to love the Lord, to love His Church, to surrender your life to ministry, and to misunderstand what that looks like practically.

There’s not enough space here to recount the process God used to recalibrate our concept of ministry and family, but I’m so glad He did. Our sons Eli, Noble, Judah, and Ezra are the happy by-product of that epiphany. But just because I have children doesn’t mean prioritizing them comes naturally to me. It doesn’t.

My heart bends toward the appeal of workaholism, achievement, and ticking tasks off my to-do list. Since the work of ministry is never done, there are endless opportunities to prioritize wrongly. The lie that my “ministry” is more important to God than my marriage and family may always have a gravitational pull on my heart, but as His Word reshapes me, I’ve learned some liberating truths.

The Church Is an Extension of the Family, Not a Threat to It

Very soon after He sculpted Adam from dust, God declared that it was “not good” for man to be alone. One rib surgery later, and the first family was made (Gen. 2). As spouses and parents, Adam and Eve became the archetype for all of humanity to come.

Later, as the Church was formed, God could have described us as a corporation, a conglomerate, or a pack, but instead He reminds us through His Word that we are His adopted sons and daughters (Eph. 1:5), children of one Father (1 John 3:1–2), members of the same household (Eph. 2:19–22), with a shared inheritance waiting in the bank (Rom. 8:17). This is family language.

The Church doesn’t trump the family. The Church is an extension of the family.

Said differently, your family is not a threat to your ministry. Your family is your ministry. Every other sphere of influence is just icing on the cake.

Do What Only You Can Do

My husband is even keeled and steady, almost never knocked sideways by the demands of life. I, on the other hand, am a tornado in constant motion, ever questioning which way I should twirl. When I start to spin out, he frequently says, “Do what only you can do, Erin. Leave the rest to someone else.” 

That looks a little different for each of us. For me, it means knowing that I am the only one living inside this body. No one else has the exact same needs regarding nutrition, rest, exercise, and time in the Word to function. It’s my job to care for this temple the Lord has given me (1 Cor. 6:19), and I can’t outsource it. I am also the only wife Jason has. I can’t delegate loving and respecting him (Eph. 5:22–24). I am the only momma my children have. God has given their care to me and asked me to embrace that responsibility rather than try to offload it.

I think of this concept in the following metaphor: There are certain gardens God has given me to tend. No one else will ever be held accountable for the fruitfulness of those plots. Just me. I’ve got no business spending my time looking over the fence at the gardens God has assigned to others. While there are many shared plots that I cultivate with other believers, my family and my body are mine alone to care for. When questions of priority pop up, I ask the Lord to help me value the gardens assigned to me.

Embrace Rhythms and Seasons

Gardening is also a picture of the fact that God has created a universe ruled by seasons. There are times when crops are abundant and times when fields need to lie fallow. So it is with family and ministry.

Sometimes ministry outside the home requires much of us. That’s okay. God does ask us to sacrifice the comforts of home for His glory (Luke 14:26). Embrace the ebb and flow but beware of a trajectory that always asks your family to get the leftovers when it comes to your passion, your energy, your time, and your gifts.

It’s ALL Ministry

I have this verse written on the bottom of all of my laundry baskets: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10 ESV).

It’s a reminder that everything I do can beministry. God is as interested and glorified in the work I do at home as He is in my efforts in bigger, more public platforms.

We are building a kingdom where the first are last (Matt. 20:16) and service trumps achievement (Matt. 20:27–28). Sure, God loves the Church and asks us to serve Her, but He also loves the family and asks us to be fruitful at home.

Don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of “ministry.” It isn’t worth it. Whether you’re washing dishes or sharing the gospel in the third world, trust the Lord to turn it all into loaves and fishes, multiplying your little offerings for great kingdom gains.

Erin’s blog post was adapted from Here to Serve: Breaking Free from Lies Leaders Believe, a new resource for women’s ministry leaders and pastor’s wives that will be released at our upcoming online training event for leaders. If you are a current or up and coming women’s ministry leader, join us for Overcoming Lies Leaders Believe on Tuesday, August 6. Register today

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