Thursday, December 11, 2008

balancing homemaking and ministry (5) my plans for 2009

There'll be a few changes next year! This year, I was so eager to take on new ministry opportunities as I left the baby years behind, that I over-committed myself.

This blog was a surprising new ministry. Add to that new writing opportunities, an unexpected chance to lead a young mum's Bible study, Sunday School classes, an unhealthy perfectionism which means I spend too long on things and find it hard to disappoint people, and some terms double- and triple-booked with seminars and writing tasks, and you can imagine it's been a little crazy!

Family and home are still my main priority, but some months I've given my kids less attention than I would have liked, I haven't supported good friends well, and the house has started to look neglected. I'm also a little tired and burnt-out. These are precious, brief years with my children, and I don't want to waste them!

I've made my plans for 2009 with greater prayer and care. For the first time (I say this with great embarrassment!) I've sought my husband's detailed input into my plans (yes, I do seek his advice regularly, but to my shame, I've never sat down with him and gone over the next year's plans in detail). I didn't commit to anything until he agreed with my priorities and said, "I think that sounds manageable". He's far more sensible than me about what I can and can't cope with!

Here's how the decision-making looked for me:

God has been convicting me about how I often seek praise from people rather than from him: a poor motivation for ministry! I've brought my heart to God, repented of pride, ambition and people-pleasing, and asked him to make me more like Christ.

I'm naturally a workaholic, which is sinful pride. I need to learn to say "no", to be disciplined about when to stop reading or writing (right now, in fact, as I edit this post!), and to take time off each week. I'm thinking of having a weekly computer-free day to devote myself without distraction to my family.

Time for home and ministry
Here's how I've planned my time:

Daily (pretty much in order of priorities)
  • time with God in the early morning - I'm an early bird, but it takes discipline to devote that first, quiet hour to God when so much else is begging to be done!
  • a couple of hours with Steve every evening - Our marriage needs to stay healthy, for it's the primary relationship (after God) in our lives and family.
  • time for each of my 4 children - We eat, chat, learn and read the Bible together; I'm there when they get home from school; and they all know Mum is available for some one-on-one time each day - reading, chatting, doing jigsaws, cuddling!
  • home tasks - Washing clothes, cooking, getting kids ready for school, driving the family taxi, etc.
  • a nap in the early afternoon - These days, I need this to give me energy for my family during the afternoon and evening.
  • a quiet hour in the early afternoon for blogging (This is where I'm at right now.)
Weekly (pretty much in order of the days)
  • Monday, Wednesday - home duties. I've found I need 2 mornings to manage our home. Monday is for cleaning (a clean house is oddly important to my mental state - for my friend, it's cooking!) and Tuesday is for odd jobs (shopping, errands, budgetting, paperwork).
  • Tuesday - a flexible morning for people. I pray with friends, have a coffee with neighbours or school mums, take Andrew to the park, or deal with unexpected responsibilities.
  • Thursday, Friday - intensive ministry. Once I've cared for my home and caught up with friends, I have 2 mornings left for intensive ministries like writing or leading a Bible study.
  • Saturdays and Sundays - family and church. Weekends are for outings, jobs around the house, teaching piano to the kids, cooking lunchbox fillers and meals to freeze, and church (and some time off!).
One Friday a month, I put ministry aside and spend a quiet morning resting, reflecting and praying. This helps me stay on course spiritually, mentally and physically.

Ministry opportunities
Here's how I've planned my ministry:

Priority 1: help my husband in his ministry
  • prayer - Most days, I pray for my husband's godliness, love and wisdom in his leadership of our marriage, family and ministry.
  • hospitality - I get our home ready to welcome visitors for meetings and social events.
  • using my skills - I edit our uni Christian group's newsletter 3 or 4 times a year - a job I don't enjoy but try to do cheerfully to help my husband! ;)
  • ask! - I recently decided to ask Steve more often about how I can help him in his ministry (writing Christmas cards for our supporters came up - if you're one of them, tell me how I do!).
Priority 2: serve people in my church and reach out to my community
  • friends and neighbours - I keep 1 morning a week free for people. I pray with friends, spend time socially with neighbours and school mums, and visit or mentor people.
  • Sunday School - This is needed at our church, and it's also a way to teach my own children.
  • young mums at our church - It's important to care first for the women God has placed in my circle, so I lead a Bible study on 1 of my 2 intensive ministry mornings.
Priority 3: the wider church and world.
I have most Fridays left for intensive ministry, although this is sometimes taken up with preparation for Bible study or Sunday School.

This is where I need to be very, very careful. I'm a dreamer, so I'm always making big plans. If I had my way (and if people would let me!) I'd be organising women's conferences, editing on-line magazines, and teaching lots of women's seminars. Wiser Christians have encouraged me to concentrate on writing.

I've agreed to one (I've learned through bitter experience to limit it to one!) extra writing /teaching project each term (Sunday School, seminar, article, EQUIP books). I'm learning to combine different responsibilities: to blog about what I'm preparing for Sunday School, or to teach the book I'm doing for EQUIP books in my Bible study.

So in this blog next year, you might find series on handling our thought-life (seminar), Hebrews (Sunday School), spiritual disciplines (last year's seminar) and mentoring women (article)! As God wills.

Well, I hope you've found these ramblings helpful. I know I'm exhausted, and I'll be glad to leave this topic for a while! As Sarah said, its' time to stop talking and start doing! You might want to tell us about your own ministry plans for next year in the comments today.


The Idle Introvert said...

whoah Jean, I'm amazed by how thorough this is. It truly reflects a heart that seeks to serve God with everything, and that includes making the best use of one's time!

It's quite an inspiration to me, a young uni student. I will soon begin a post on a 'wrap up' on 2008 and I hate to think how unproductively I use a lot of my time.

Rachael said...

God has been convicting me about how I often seek praise from people rather than from him: a poor motivation for ministry! I've brought my heart to God, repented of pride, ambition and people-pleasing, and asked him to make me more like Christ.

ditto from me.

mattnbec said...

I'm glad for the way you've served us by showing the ways you've tried to put the principles into practice in your own life. Very helpful. Your pro-active approach is quite instructive and I think I need to learn from it and the way you've thought it all through in the future. Thanks.

May God bless your efforts to honour him in the ways you serve next year and bring glory to himself through it.


charissa said...

I struggle with looking for approval from others as well. (Do you think it's a girl thing?) It is one of my ongoing prayer points.
Your plans for next year look great, Jean. You look like you are a very disciplined person. I am pretty good at making plans but not so good at sticking to them. Maybe there is a future post somewhere on how to encourage each other to be disciplined and do what we plan to do.