Hubby and I led, well started, the youth ministry at a church plant just after we graduated college. There was a need and I loved working with youth. I worked in a youth ministry almost every summer of college. I was also a teacher at a local middle school so it made sense that this was the ministry I worked in. Hubby joined me partly because he enjoyed the kids we were serving but mostly because he wanted to support me in a ministry I loved. It was a great way to tangibly serve the families in the church. We led for about 6 years. It was tough trying to figure out how to create a ministry that served our church but avoided supplanting the roles of parents and families the way some youth ministry models can tend to do.
After our 5th year leading, God began to press on my heart that some changes needed to be made in regards to our role in leading. We just had our first daughter and found out within a few months that we were expecting our second child. To be honest, I didn't want anything to change. Having been a youth who accepted Christ because a friend invited me to a church youth group, much of my picture of ministry was wrapped up in the youth program. I grew in Christ because two lovely women had discipled me through youth ministry. I was heavily involved in campus ministry (which is very similar to youth ministry) and then worked for a wonderful youth ministry each summer. I believed that God wanted me to move out of this very narrow box of ministry but I was resistant. God was patient and so was my husband. I was overwhelmed by being mom to two babies (the girls are 15 months apart) as well as a youth leader. I kept thinking about how we could serve with our kids and still meet the needs of the church youth. At the time our second child was born I finally accepted the change. As Hubby's responsibilities with his church internship increased, his seminary studies moved forward, and our family grew I could no longer resist the push to step into a different role.
I kept asking God what he wanted me to do, the only answer I received as I prayed and searched the scriptures was, "serve your husband." I wanted a list--something tangible. I like tangible and I like lists because they make me feel productive and organized. God doesn't have to work like this. So for a year I stepped back and did not serve in a formal role in our church. I served my husband by getting the girls fed and dressed for church so he could go early and play on the music team. I planned fun trips so Hubby could study, write papers or plan sermons with us out of the house (it was a 2 bedroom condo with 4 people, there was not really a place to 'hide' well). I found babysitters so I could join him when he preached for the women's service at the local prison. It was a blessing. By me stepping out of such a time-intensive ministry role it allowed us as a couple to find new ways to serve together and it freed up Hubby to freely serve in the ministries where God was placing him. Just as he has supported and encouraged me earlier in our marriage by leading youth with me, now I took on the role of supporter and partner as the our family grew and his leadership at church expanded.
There are so many ways to serve in ministry. I could say being a stay at home mom and supporting my husband was ministry but God wanted me to do more than just say it. He wanted me to live it. By expanding my picture of ministry and accepting the places God has placed each member of our family at this point in time its allowed all of us to serve more effectively. After a year of focusing on supporting Hubby in whatever he needed I've moved into finding other ways to serve in addition to serving my husband and family first. Sometimes creatively such as sewing or cooking for those that need it or washing baby bottles for the local pregnancy center; sometimes through more traditional means such as nursery helper or Sunday school. Ultimately, what God has taught me through all of this is that significance is not defined by my perceptions of the value of the ministry I do, but rather by God's plans and purposes for me.
I'm linking up with Christine over at Grace Covers Me today as she releases her book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, and collects heart stories from church planting and ministry wives. Join us?