Tuesday, December 2, 2008

balancing homemaking and ministry: your comments

From no comments (at first) to an embarrassment of riches! Thanks to all of you who have generously shared your thoughts on balancing ministry in and out of the home. Check out Bec and Valeri's initial responses to the question which started it all; the ongoing discussion between Valori, Nic, Liz and me which started in the comments here and ended up here; and Lucy's reflections in balancing act (feel free to read her excellent post and ignore mine!). Thanks, girls, and keep pondering and sharing your thoughts and stories. I'm still thinking hard about this issue, but the current state of my thinking begins today, with a potted history of my own experience in 4 scenes ...


Rachael said...

Hi Jean, just to throw something else into the mix...
I wonder if we think a little to much about "my" ministry, "my" family and "my" home. In one sense, belonging to the body of Christ radically changes our concept of family. You wrote about this once, remember, that young man at church... your brother? I wonder how much we ought instead to think about "our" ministry, "our" family and "our home".

What about if we helped each other with the balance and didn't try to do everything on our own?

I have more thoughts... but I'll wait.

Jean said...

Ooh, good point Rachael, and you're absolutely right: we don't think communally enough. Has your experience in Vanuatu helped you to see things differently, do you think?

The help women in the body of Christ can give each other is especially important when it comes to women in difficult situations, like solo mums who have no choice about working full-time. All these questions about "how much ministry can I do?" must sound like a pipe-dream to them. This is the kind of situation where we can surely jump in and help.

But we could probably help each other with the balance in other ways too. One Bible study group I know used to take turns to get together at each others' houses and help with the cleaning. Another mum used to share child-minding one day a week, week about, with another mum. Not for everyone, but it worked for them.

What kinds of examples did you have in mind?

Although this is hard for introspective women: I know I find it extremely difficult to cope with extra people in my home, so that "child swaps" would never be a helpful way for me to do more ministry, or have time off. I might do it to help someone out, or to spend time with another mum, but not as a workable long-term way to help with the balance. How do you think being part of a larger family helps with the balance for introspective women, who find the "our" particularly draining?

(And did that make any sense at all?!)

Rachael said...

Its hard to answer in general terms. But, yes, its like a group that helps clean each other homes. Or perhaps, it's helping the leader out so she has time to prepare. It doesn't have to be "swapping" so that we do the same for each person, but we help out where there is a need.

I ought not to think of your children as strangers but as the children of my sister, and be much more prepared to look after them and care for them than I normally would be for other people's children. When I leave children in creche at church... it is not a stranger looking after them, but my brother or sister.

What if you are a gifted scripture teacher, but it scares me to death, couldn't I look after your two youngest so you could teach scripture? It's not just your responsibility to see that scripture is taught, it's mine too, even though I can't do it. This way it's "our" ministry, not yours or mine. You don't ever have to have my children... it's not about swapping.

Rachael said...

Being part of a larger family means there is always someone around to help. When Glen left Vanuatu to come home early, lots of my friends in Australia think how awful that must have been to be left alone with the children. But it's not like that at all. When things were getting frazzled I would bundle Matthew up and take him to Mama Jenny's house or Mama Mercy's house. They, or there children would play with him until I had finished preparing dinner or whatever it was that I was doing, then I go and collect him.

Now the reality in Australia is that we just don't have enough people we trust around to be able to do that. But I do think we need to be thinking about how we can help each other and not trying to do everything on our own.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Jean said...

Welcome, Kate, lovely to have you!