Ministry and kids. Kids and ministry.
Same coin, different sides.
But how to balance?
Jake and I have been doing ministry for over 5 years. It started unintentionally, with no long-term plan, just going where we felt the Lord directing us.

For us, ministry is not the bread and butter job. It does not pay bills, so it is done on top of the other “9-5” jobs that often times go well beyond the 9 to 5.

When we first started, we were overhelmed and inundated with the never ending needs and opportunities to minister. We quickly had to come up with guidelines to preserve our home life, especially with having four little ones.
As our kids grow, as our maturity and giftings grow, and as life brings many changes, some of these boundaries are flexible and we readjust as necessary, but here is how we protect our marriage, our time with our kids,and our sanity.

1) Prioritize
This seems simple, but it’s the most important. What you prioritize as most important is where you will give most of your time. As the saying goes, “Begin with the end in mind.”
The inside of our home is our number one priority. Other than building into our relationship and strengthening our marriage, our kids are our priority.

This does not mean that all of our time and effort goes only to them, but rather we make sure they understand they are our first ministry, verbalizing the sentiment often. It has been through them and with them we see the most fruit – specifically in the areas of patience and humility.
We cannot be encouraging and equipping newer/younger parents on how to love their children well if we are not doing it well.

To be sure, there are times when one or more of my kids whine and complain when dad has to walk in the door from work only to walk out again for a meeting or mom has to work on a teaching and can’t meet their need at that specific moment.

In those times, we remind them that their act of serving us in allowing us to do these things is such a blessing.

In word and in deed, we want to affirm their importance to us. When we have hectic weeks where Jake and I are stretched thin and they are acting out to gain attention and Jake and I respond wrongly because of our frustration and impatience, we realize it’s time to re-focus.
We light candles, cook a fun dinner and just in general, shut out the outside needs and deal with the needs literally at our feet.

Neither Jake nor I can expect great things in the ministry outside of our four walls if we aren’t pursuing great things within our four walls.

2) Time
Everyone has 24 hours in a day. How you use it will widely vary.
As I mentioned, Jake and I both have outside jobs in addition to homeschooling. We have to make the best use of our time or nothing gets done.

We limit our kids and their activities. This means, day-time activities are flexible – piano and Lego League can easily be built into the school schedule since that won’t take away from family time.

If it’s an evening or weekend activity, only one child in one activity at a time. This means the boys rotate what usually ends up being a sport. If at all possible, this too is a family activity. We all go to practice and we all go to the game.

This prevents us from being pulled in too many directions and having to split who goes to which practice or game.

Absolutely there are weeks where this doesn’t happen. A brother is sick, mom has to teach, dad has a meeting, so we adjust that boundary as necessary.

3) Communication
We are in a culture of over-connectivity and constant communication. If you know me, you know this is my downfall.
The hardest part about my role in leadership is that the communication aspect overwhelms me.

For me, email is not on my phone and zero social media apps are on my phone. It’s too easy to get distracted and become consumed.

To protect what I prioritize, there are many weekends where the phone is turned off and oftentimes during the week the phone is left at home while the boys and I run errands and go to activities.

I can’t be fully engaged in the here and now with a device in my hand.

There are days where it’s a constant war – there is a legitimate need that I need to help out with (baby in the hospital, marriage melting down, someone struggling with something) and there are also the needs that come with having kids.

I make sure I communicate to my kids that mom needs to help someone out so I will be on my phone throughout the day, but I also will understand that I don’t have to respond to every single point of communication at that exact moment.

If I find myself getting frustrated that the boys are needing me while I’m on the phone, I know it’s time for a break.
The phone goes up, we all pile on the couch to read and snuggle or we sit and have tea time.
This is my opportunity to communicate to them that they are my priority and I best show that with the time I give them.

4) Home
Home is my haven. Home fuels me; rejuvenates me. For all my wanderlust and the boys love for exploring and Jake’s passion for his job, being home is a breath of fresh air for all of us.
That being said, our home is central to the majority of our outside ministry.
We often invite people in for several reasons:
– We can still have our boys with us and it prevents us from being gone too many nights in a row.
– Our home is comfortable for us.
– I can cook dinner for everyone
– We are able to put our boys to bed if someone needs to stay late
– People can bring their kids with them
– If you are going to cry, it’s much easier to do it without a waiter asking you if you need a refill on your drink!

5) Myself
I cannot effectively pour into people if I am not being poured into. There are several women, a couple close by and a couple in other countries, that deeply encourage my heart and set a beautiful example for me.
I have pastors that shepherd and lead me well and a husband that loves me in ways that words could not do justice.
For both of us, accountability is key.

One of the ways we both get “fed” is Jake listens to teachings on his long drives and while working out and I read books on inspiring women (CorrieTen Boom, Helen Keller, Dale Evans, Elisabeth Elliot).

These ways fuel our passion for the Lord and our ministry and has not grown complacent. It reminds us of our end goal: to see Christ proclaimed.

– Laurel Ewing, Women’s Ministry Director