This is a crazy, busy month both with family activities and ministry events, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how to keep my priorities straight. Although I know that God has called me to speak, teach and write, I also know that my highest callings are first to Him and then to my family. I might get more of a charge out of speaking to a crowd of responsive women than out of speaking to a couple of sometimes-resistant teenagers, but God says that they have to be first!
Here are a few things that God has taught me over the years:
1. I cannot do ministry without my husband’s support. Under normal circumstances, Barry is my number one cheerleader, but when he’s not it needs to be a “yield” sign to me. Ephesian 5:22′s exhortation, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” has protected me several times. The wording also encourages me that I can trust the Lord to give a changed heart to my husband if needed.
Recently, I was presented with an opportunity to help lead 2 women’s conferences in India. I was extremely excited and felt convinced that I was supposed to go, but Barry really felt that I shouldn’t. He was concerned both about the risk of international travel and the timing of the trip itself. I simply asked him to pray and seek the Lord about it. I told him that I wouldn’t go if he still felt convinced after praying. (Let me just tell you that this stance is learned from long experience even though it flies in the face of my strong-willed personality. I don’t want to pretend it’s easy for me!)
A couple of weeks later, without any introduction, Barry simply walked into the room and said, “OK. You should go.” I was obviously confused, so he followed, “You should go to India. When I was praying, God clearly spoke that this is an opportunity that He’s providing.”
You can just imagine the squeals and jumping up and down that ensued!!
That story has a happy ending, but I was determined to trust the Lord to use my husband to either speak a “no” to my travel-ready heart or a “yes” for confirmation. I see it as the Lord’s protection for me rather than as a limiting force in my life.
Let me also hasten to say that it would be impossible on a practical level for me to do ministry without Barry’s support. When I’m gone, he’s a single parent with full responsibility over the day-to-day duties in our house. I appreciate the challenges of doing life without a partner, and I want to respect the extra work that it requires of him.
2. I want my children to do ministry with me rather than seeing ministry as something that takes their mama away. The reality is that ministry does often take me away from home, but I want them to be part of what I do. I always ask all my guys to pray for me before I leave and ask for their prayers while I’m gone.
I also want to make choices that reflect my priorities. I don’t just want to say that I’m “speaker” after “mom”. I want the boys to know that they rank higher on my list. I have missed a few of their events, but I am there for the large majority. This is Anson’s senior year, so I already have the biggies on the calendar–concerts, application deadlines, prom, etc. Those are non-negotiables on my calendar this year.
As God opens doors, stokes your passions and speaks to your heart, I know He’ll be speaking to you about priorities too. What lessons have you learned about prioritizing your family?