I love this God-given opportunity He has placed in my life. I love being a mom of three very different children, two of who are now adults. I love being a wife, a friend, and a coworker. I love working with churches, pastors, and anyone who has a heart to serve single mothers and their families. However, there have been too many times to count over the years that I have worked myself into complete exhaustion and burnout. In that place of exhaustion, I found myself short-tempered, rude, bitter, angry, and unwilling to share why.
Whether we answer to wife, mom, student, employee, pastor, or a hundred other roles, the common theme among us is wondering if we are making a difference in our world and how we can keep pushing through? I am convinced this is most true of women. Too many of us are burnt out, exhausted, and tired, but we fear that we will be perceived as weak, less than, or imperfect if we do something about it or tell others.
I know exactly how you feel. I have found myself being that girl. I have been there so many times. Although God was extending His hand of grace so abundantly blessing my ministry work, my marriage, and my children, there is still that little voice inside me asking, "Am I making a difference? Should I be doing this? How can I take a break to recharge or go on a family vacation when the needs of those around me are so great?" It was only when I was near drowning in exhaustion; I sought God through my desperation. He revealed some revelations that I would like to share with you:
1. Know your role.
When we understand that our role in life is not to be everything to everyone, we fully understand that we do not have to fix the world, our kids, or our coworkers. We are not in the business of fixing others. We are in the business of pointing people in the direction of the God who can. Our role in life is to continue to direct people to the Lord, Jesus, as their source of strength, courage, patience, and prayer answerer – we were never designed to be those things.
In the early years of ministry, this was the hardest for me. Anyone who personally knows me knows that I am driven, hard-working, and passionate. Single moms' ministry keeps me up at night. The desire to see my children succeed burns within me. Making sure my job performance is efficient is also important to me; there is so much work to be done in all these areas. More than that, we must rest. We must take time to just sleep, sit on the sofa with nothing to do, and simply do—nothing. It is vital to our effectiveness in relationships.
3. Set boundaries.
Whatever the boundaries you have put in place, it is important that you stick to them. For example, between the hours of 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, you have a sit-down meal with your family at the dinner table; do not accept phone calls during that time. If you have decided that one Saturday per month is set aside for date night with your spouse, protect that. When we set boundaries in our lives, it tells those we work with, our girlfriends, and our ministries that we value our rest enough to protect it. It is important that you find boundaries that work for you and your family and understand that you need to stick to them for your own health.
4. Stay spiritually healthy.
You cannot give when you do not receive. Stay in God's Word. Stay in prayer. Continue with regular church attendance. Pray without ceasing. All the things that have contributed to your Christian journey with the Lord are the things that will sustain you and keep you throughout this journey as you become an encouragement to others.
5. Accountability is healthy.
Your life should be structured in such a way that you are accountable to others in your life, such as your pastor, spouse, ministry leader, or mentor. Experience and wisdom have taught them to recognize and see things that we sometimes are unable to see when we are knee-deep in the midst of life. They offer perspective and instruction. They are in our lives to help keep us safe.
6. Sabbaticals are important.
Know when it is time for extended rest. It is not always possible to do so immediately, but for some, it may be intentionally taking a five to seven-day rest from social media, work, and ministry responsibilities. For me, I have always taken extended time off work during the summer, when my kids are home from school. Whatever extended rest looks like for you, do it when needed. This allows you a time of refreshing, extended family time, and the ability to gain a new perspective.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Jude Beck
Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. Her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.
The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 single mothers over the last decade and counting. Maggio is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. Her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and serves more than 1,500 churches and 71,000 single mothers annually. She is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She also hosts the podcast Single Mom 101, which you can find at LifeAudio.com. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com or check out her Facebook and Instagram pages.