Seasons of Life in Church Ministry
In reality, this post is about contentment. Contentment is found in recognizing where you are in life, entrusting that season to God, and flourishing where He has you. Philippians 4:11b says,
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am”
And Hebrews 13:5b “Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’”
These passages in their context discuss contentment in material things, but we know even more how God desires our hearts to be fully satisfied in Him.
Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand. What is desirable in a man is his kindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar. The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. (Prov 19:21-23)
An excellent wife in training will go through several different seasons in the course of her life. Each stage requires careful reflection and evaluation of all that she should be involved in. Many are the plans of a woman’s heart ... but we are called to live in peace in a quiet life and focused on the people within our home. Few of us would say our lives seem peaceful since we live in a heavy data-barrage age. However, let us consider how we can seek contentment in each stage of being a wife and mom.
What an older woman without children at home can do is quite different than what a mom at home with 4 kids ages 5 and under can do. However, Titus 2 gives us the directives of what we are to be busy doing, ladies!
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3–5)
Older women are to pass on the wisdom they have learned and practiced, and the younger women are to learn and put into practice this wisdom and Scripture. If you are a believer in the church, you are not allowed to hermit away with your family at home. Galatians 5:13b commands us to, “.. through love serve one another.”
And in Hebrews 10:24–25 we are encouraged to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
You are needed, excellent wife in training. There is a single lady or teen behind you watching you live in sanctification or in your parenting. There is an older woman whose heart is blessed watching your faithfulness or how you love on your babies. There is a friend who needs to hear what God is teaching you and to be encouraged. There are 15 other women who could benefit from you serving in the nursery this week. Likewise, there are people who also can be all these things to you. These are blessed gifts from the Lord to His people. So, excellent wife in training, what season are you in? What is the spiritual temperature of your heart and your family life? How is your contentment with the season you are in and the trials you are facing? Is your hope resting quietly on the solid rock of Christ? May I suggest an accurate gauge of your spiritual and family temperature?
It is found in Philippians 2:12b–15;
”Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”
Are you avoiding complaining in all things? This is a great gauge to know where you may be struggling with contentment in where God has you right now. A wise man once said, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.” Take some time to thank God for the season He has you in, for the trials and lessons He is teaching you through, for the opportunities you have to serve the body in love, and ask Him to grant you peace and contentment as you seek to follow all His ways.
The Season of Church Ministry You May Be In:
A young wife may be working or at home. This is a great stage to be establishing routines within the home and in your marriage. There is a lot of free time in your life at this point, though you may not clearly see that just yet. Ephesians 5:15–16 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Now is a great time to be attending women’s Bible studies, serving alongside your husband in service jobs within the church, investing yourself deeply in the Word of truth and seeking out a Titus 2 older woman to invest in your spiritual growth.
A young mom is in a tired and tentative time of life. There are many adjustments going on as your family now has a dependent being whose very life depends on you. So many things are new. Continue on in personal spiritual development and your discipleship relationships. Seek to keep doing what you can in ministry and Bible studies to acclimate you and your husband’s minds that baby has joined your family, you haven’t joined theirs.
“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” (Col 3:18-21)
Odds are your days are filled with baby talk, errant Cheerios spills and missing shoes. You are changing diapers and seeking to impart theology to tiny minds intent on their own will. This may very well be a time when you are not able to work in service areas in your church. You may be an amazing multitasker and can keep up with it all, and you may not be. It is important to stay attuned to your husband’s perceptions and assessments of your fatigue, fruit of the Spirit, and trials. Depend on his counsel, if you can, to help lead and guide you through decisions regarding church involvement beyond the corporate gathering (that’s assumed). Be careful of playing the comparison game when observing other moms or seeing magazine homes and Pinterest-perfect homes with seemingly perfectly-dressed and behaved kids. Comparison is the number-one joy-stealer. Cling to this encouragement mama, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal 6:9).
Moms with Middle Kids and Teens: This can be a tricky time figuring out all you should and shouldn’t be doing outside the home. It is in this season that many families end up going in too many different directions and lose touch with each other and the church. Good questions to ask yourself are “What is our primary purpose and goal in life? In our family? If our kids were asked what is most important to us what would they say?” Is God and serving the church and others high on that list? Is work and preparing for adult life being conveyed? Is time being made to have conversations that reach into the heart of your child? Are sports and outside activities driving the whole engine of your family? Are you able to balance all you are trying to do, or do your kids constantly miss you, miss dad, or miss out on quiet time? Quiet space in their own lives allows them to be children, be creative, have downtime, evaluate life and its mysteries, study the Word, serve others, etc. Mom, are you constantly leaving your children with others to go do what you want to do or “to serve others”? Be sure you are serving your family foremost—they are your mission field and your eternal responsibility. Include your children in ministry as much as you can, and minister in their activities. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro through-out the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9a).
Women with Adult Children or Empty Nest: The hardest part of the labor years may be behind you. It’s been time, or is time, for you to be the older woman of Titus 2! Pour yourself out into those behind you on the path of righteousness. Meet with ladies in discipleship, babysit for young moms who desperately need a break, serve in practical ways at your church!
“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1)
Final “Seasons of Life” Note
Once upon a time I sat holding my 5th baby in my arms while listening to a wonderful conference speaker. I told myself, “I want to be just like her when I grow up! I want to encourage women with the truth of God in how it impacts every moment of our days.” Another baby came along. The days were full of 6 kids, lots of love, extreme busyness and my mind seemed to be mush. I realized that Holy Spirit prompting in that moment would likely never happen. Eight years after having that desire in my heart, that very conference speaker was the first to invite me to come be a conference speaker for her church. Make yourself available to God to do whatever He wants to do with you in whatever season you are in! Water the grass where He has you, walk according to His will, and watch Him use you in big or small ways! It is all by Him, through Him, and for Him!