Have you ever found yourself volunteering for hours at church, yet you can’t seem to find time to fix a home cooked meal or play a game of Monopoly with your kids? There’s a tension that exists in the heart of every mother who is involved in any type of ministry. You want to be fully there for your kids and you also want to model a life of service to others. How can you do both and still enjoy your life?

My husband James loves to tell the story about my cupcakes. The cupcake incident happened years ago. I was up late one night baking cupcakes for my Toastmasters public speaking group. He thought it was so ridiculous that I would spend time at the end of the day to do something so trivial and unnecessary. I said I would bring cupcakes and I was going to make them, not buy them. He has dubbed that “the cupcake spirit” and whenever he hears me volunteering for something he thinks is unwise, he puts on the brakes. “That’s the cupcake spirit!” he’ll say with conviction.

Sometimes we need a spouse, family member, or friend who will help us identify when we have “the cupcake spirit.” You know that part of us who wants to say yes to everyone, no matter what the cost is to our personal sanity or our family’s well being. When we say “Yes, I’ll sell tickets after church,” and “Yes, I’ll host the small group,” and “Yes, I’ll organize the church potluck,” we must be aware that we are also saying no to someone else. Your husband and kids might get the short end of the stick that week. If you’re finding your family is getting short changed quite a bit, it’s time to take a hard look at your ministry calendar and see what you can eliminate.

Before I began writing books, I could handle teaching a church preschool class on Sundays. But with writing deadlines and two kids under 6, I couldn’t keep that commitment. I shifted to being a back-up teacher instead of a regular teacher. At first, I felt badly about stepping down. But after a few weeks of having that margin, I was grateful for the extra time and energy for writing and mothering. Plus a very wonderful teacher took my place! It was a win-win for everyone.

A few years ago, speaker and author Karen Ehman shared something with me that has really helped me balance ministry and family life. She told me that just because a woman is capable of doing something doesn’t mean she should do it. We can confuse being capable with being called. It’s liberating to know I don’t have to do something just because I have the ability.

Just because you are well-suited for ten different committees doesn’t mean you should volunteer for all of them. Seek God about the highest and best use of your time and resources. In Exodus 36, Moses was collecting offerings to build a sanctuary for the Lord. It says in Exodus 36:2, “Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.” When the Lord has a ministry job for you, He will stir your heart to do the work. I believe that work can be a blessing to your kids as they watch you serve and grow in God.

There will be days when ministry outside the home and inside the home seem collide. Like those days when I’m running around town speaking to a women’s group and my husband is alone with three sick kids. That’s when he says with a sly smile upon my return, “Charity begins at home.” That is true, isn’t it? Our husbands and children deserve our best, not our leftovers. But I also believe as we invest in our families, we will have enough energy leftover to invest in the work outside the home God has called us to. Charity may begin at home but it doesn’t have to end there. 

© Right to the Heart of Women. Used with permission.

Arlene Pellicane has been featured on The Hour of Power, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, Better, and TLC’s Home Made Simple.  Her book 31 Days to a Younger You:  No Surgery, No Diets, No Kidding helps women become more beautiful from the inside out. 

Publication date: July 5, 2012