We likely all know the hierarchy of our roles, first as daughters of God, then wives to our husbands, then mothers of our children, and then as missionaries, but how do we balance all of this in a healthy way? We know our roles, but the hard part is trying to figure it all out in practice. I often feel like the first three roles are way more than enough to fill my plate. I would actually enjoy an extra 2-3 hours a day to feel like I could accomplish all of the things that I’d like in those realms!
Reality is that we have been given 24 hours each day, and aside from our primary 3 callings as daughters of God, wives, and moms, God has also called us to serve Him as missionaries. I of course am not going to go into any sort of detail here to tell you what your life should look like. With different capacities, different families, different life stages, different ministries, and different personal callings in general, no one of us can stake claim on “the perfectly balanced missionary mom lifestyle….” and I of all people would never claim to have that mastered.
What I wanted to talk about today though is the importance of maintaining our vision for the work that God has called us to overseas. You don’t need anyone to tell you that living overseas is a sacrifice. Vision is a large part of the fuel that will keep us going. As you likely have heard or experienced, it can be quite common for missionary moms to become so consumed by our home lives (and I definitely agree that our home and family are our main focuses), that we lose sight of why God has called us to be where we are in the first place. The danger of becoming exclusively homeward focused is that we start thinking, “Hey, I could do everything that I am doing right now equally as well and much more easily if I were only back ‘home.'” This leads easily to frustration and discontent and burnout. The statement is true on many levels, which is why it is so important for us to stay engaged in our mission and to allow God to remind us through people and experiences why it is that He has called us to give up what we have to be where we are.
Being engaged in ministry will look different for each of you. Some of you may be in the phase of motherhood with little ones at home and therefore might be limited in what you can do outside of the home. Some of you might have grown or school-aged kids that might allow you to be out more, doing things more independently. I wanted to share a few ideas with you, especially for those whom staying engaged is a struggle, to help you keep your heart focused on and engaged in your calling.
Pray- Above all things, we should be seeking God to confirm in our hearts the calling that He has given us to be serving overseas. Even if we have a more homeward focus in our daily lives, we must also be actively battling in prayer for those that God has called us to reach. It is amazing how vivid our vision can be when we are faithful to pray. Equally as drastic is how fast our vision can fade if we forget to pray for the people, place, and the work that our families are called to.
Build Relationships- I think this is the second most important thing that will keep our hearts engaged in the mission. Make sure you are engaging with the people you are seeking to reach. Build relationships with believers and non-believers alike. Of course this is something we all know, but with a house full of little ones and much to do at home, and depending on the culture, it may take more intentionality than one would expect.
Use your home for ministry- we have talked about this a number of times, but home life and ministry don’t have to be separate! It is a wonderful thing for those we are trying to reach to observe a family who loves God, and it is also a wonderful thing for the whole family, and especially for the kids, to do ministry together.
Schedule ministry time away from home- Work with your spouse to find time when you can be the one out doing ministry. Again, I won’t tell you how often or for how much time, but it can be helpful to know you have some time specifically for you to do ministry apart from other responsibilities.
Utilize holidays- Sometimes it can be stressful to have a ton of regularly scheduled ministry events year-round, but most of us can spare extra time as special opportunities come up. Take a look at the holidays in your culture and see how you can use them in ministry. Plan ahead to make it happen.
Learn and love the culture- One thing that will make you feel more connected to the ministry is becoming more a part of the culture in which you live. Learn about the values of the people around you. Celebrate the holidays that they do (as long as they are appropriate). Appreciate the art, the natural beauty, the architecture. Enjoy the traditional foods and learn how to make them yourself, etc. The more that we see the beauty that God has woven into the culture that He has created, the more we see His heart and plan for His people.
Write your family newsletter- Simple things like being the one to cast vision through your family newsletter or blog can help you keep fresh in your mind why you are doing what you are doing. That way you are recalling the things that God has done through your ministry and are recalling how God has used your family in His work. It is also great to help cast vision on support raising appointments when back in the US.
Don’t compare yourself- This is important too. I am talking about comparing yourself to other missionary moms in an unhealthy way. We first must seek God and ask Him what He is calling us to personally. It is of course helpful to learn from the moms in ministry around us, but we need to recognize that each of us has been given different circumstances and capacities, and that someone else’s calling, as wonderful as it might be, has not been given to us. We can so easily start comparing ourselves to others and start feeling defeat. This unnecessary feeling of inadequacy too can kill vision.
This list, as long as it is, is far from being exhaustive. Would you please take a minute to share your ideas for keeping our hearts engaged in ministry? What has worked best for you? Are you feeling engaged at the moment, or are can we be praying for your vision today?
(Post by: Ashley)