Who would have thought that a global pandemic would virtually shut down the world in the spring of 2020? Canceled: church services, Bible studies, community groups, women’s ministry events. Even the ability to minister one-on-one to women in need of encouragement.
And just like ministry-related gatherings, schools are closed and all other activities that our kids would normally participate in have been postponed until further notice. Because of this, many of us who are used to having focused time in ministry while our children are out of the house are needing to readjust seemingly every detail of our lives. It feels like an impossible feat to lead, teach, and help our children through this unstable time and also encourage the women God has placed in our spiritual care.
Truthfully, navigating these changes is too much for us in and of our own strength. We are desperately in need of wisdom only God can give so we can minister to those He has placed in our spheres of leadership. But rather than viewing this as a hindrance to our ministry, what if we allowed God to use it to strengthen and refine us as we lead both our children and the women in our care?
None of us will walk through this season perfectly, but by His grace we can embrace these new challenges as a way for His strength to be shown more brilliantly in our weakness.
Here are three ways the Lord has been teaching me to do so in this season, and in my extended season of being a stay-at-home mom in ministry.
1. Lead by Example
We have a unique opportunity to lead our children through this crisis because they are continually with us. They see every action and hear every word. Because of this, we need to be serious about setting an example that points our children back to the reality of the gospel. The only way we can be this kind of example is if we are continually seeking Jesus in this season. We need to be spending time in the Word and in prayer, setting our minds and hearts upon Him. We need to choose to rejoice and give thanks even in the hardest of circumstances. We need to confess and repent when we have sinned and offer forgiveness freely when our children sin. We need to be outward-focused in a world that is in self-protection mode.
This will also overflow into your ministry to other women. Although we cannot be face-to-face, we have the ability to turn women to Jesus through social media, phone calls and texts. We can be an example by taking our fears to the foot of the cross and serving and loving our families even when everyone is feeling stir-crazy. God will use this time of leading by example in the home to strengthen our ministry to those outside our homes.
2. Work Together
There is such blessing in slowing down our pace and allowing our kids to join us in our daily activities and tasks. It’s easy to fall into the “You do your thing, I’ll do my thing,” but since we are together 24/7, we have the opportunity to show them that serving alongside each other brings joy. For example, sometimes I send the kids to clean up the playroom and then come in and join them for a while. Or, if my three-year-old wants to help fold laundry, I’ll let her fold all the pants (even though it takes a lot longer). Even my one-year-old loves helping me put the dishes away and revels in my praise for helping. It’s worth sacrificing some of the efficiency to lead them in serving together. On another note, I’ve been seeing videos where kiddos are sitting with their moms as they are encouraging other women, and this is precious. Let your children help you encourage the women in your sphere whenever possible.
We can take on a similar mindset with the women in our care, although it will look a bit different. It might mean an intentional phone call a couple times a week to check in on them. It might mean joining them in their prayer burdens for their own family and women they are serving. It may mean brainstorming with them about how to keep their ministry sphere going in this season, and allowing them to help us in the same way. As we seek the Lord for wisdom in setting the precedent to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) in this unique season, He will give it.
3. Block Out Time
On a very practical note, it may be helpful to put time into your daily schedule during which the kids are otherwise occupied and you are able to slip away to work on ministry. My kids have grown accustomed to this in my schedule and accept it without complaining as a daily part of our life.
I’m used to having a couple of time slots during the week where I can go out to a coffee shop to work on ministry-related tasks, so I’ve had to be creative the past few weeks. Usually, this means fitting in extra writing or ministry work during my kids’ rest time. Sometimes when I have extra writing to do, I’ll give them a snack and turn on a show so that they’re happily occupied for a little while. On sunny days, I’ll sit outside to work while they play nearby in the fresh air.
Our time to minister to women may be more limited right now, but when we use the moments we do have for God’s glory, He can multiply it just as He did with the loaves and fish (Matt. 14:13–21).
Remember, friends, this time of upheaval is no surprise to God. Our ministry inside and outside our homes is not destined to fail because of the crisis and unknowns that surround us. As we surrender ourselves afresh to the Lord, He will give us wisdom, grace, strength, and creativity to minister to our families and other women in His name!