A mother of three young children, who works part-time, recently told me that she struggles with guilt feelings that she’s not leading a ministry or serving in some capacity in her church.
“I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for God,” she said.
Have you ever found yourself saying that?
We live in a world focused on doing to the point that busyness is our badge of success and multi–tasking in the church is what appears to others — and ourselves — as ultra spiritual. But although a relationship with the Living God produces a desire to obey Him and serve Him, that service results in joy and rest, not perpetual stress!
In my book, When Women Long for Rest, I point out that God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him. I see that in Jesus’ response to a man who asked Him about the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus’ answer was,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. —Matthew 22:37
God is focused on relationship. We tend to be focused on activity. He is the One who tells us to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) and to come to Him and rest (Matthew 11:28). We are the ones who are striving to do more.
Yet, as we spend time cultivating a love relationship with God, we will then know how to serve others and we will be able to discern His gentle voice saying, “This is what I have for you” or, “Step in and help her with that.” But it will never be at the expense of overlooking our primary responsibilities or feeling over-extended.
Jesus, after all, told His closest followers, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31), not “Let’s try to cover even more territory today by working even harder!”
If you are a mom with young children, or a woman who works full time, or someone who has her hands full (and who doesn’t these days?), let me remind you of some principles when it comes to doing more for God:
1) Grow in Your Love for Him and the Labor Will Follow
But in the way He wants, not in the way your guilt determines. As you sit at His feet, He will eventually call you to get up and serve Him. But if we aren’t taking time to be still, open His Word, and listen for His voice and direction, how can we possibly know how and where we are to serve Him? Especially when it comes to specifics?
Also, as you are growing in your love relationship with Him, you will learn how to discern the difference between His loving voice and the voice of your own guilt.
2) Look For Where He is Calling You to Serve and Go Where He Leads
This is difficult for us, as women, because we tend to be pleasers, enablers, helpers, rescuers. Yes, there are days when you may need to help in the church nursery because someone didn’t show up and you know it’s the right thing to do. But in terms of regular service for the Lord, wait upon God, pray for timing and clarity and walk through the doors that He opens, don’t try to pry them open yourselves. Too many times we find ourselves over-scheduled, over-whelmed and under-nourished, spiritually, because we jumped up to serve somewhere without seeing if that was the best place where God wanted us.
3) Ministry isn’t Limited to Sundays
When we think of “doing something” for God, we tend to think of activity in the church building. While each of us in the body of Christ is to exercise our spiritual gifts in a way that uplifts and encourages the rest of the body (and that implies connection with a local church where you can be your “part” in the functioning body of Christ) that doesn’t mean that ministry occurs only within a church setting.
Ministry happens anywhere that you are salt and light on this earth and wherever Christ is glorified through you. I often tell a wife that her greatest ministry is to support and encourage her husband. I often tell moms their greatest service to the Lord is raising their own children to love and obey God. And if you have a job — outside the church — but feel you need to do more inside the church, find that balance so you can still be used effectively no matter where you are.
Followers of Christ tend to forget the amazing ministry they can have simply by living next to and working alongside non-believers and continuing to live as followers of Christ.
Finally, it’s important for all of us to remember that our works and activity for God is not something we do to earn God’s favor. Jesus did enough to secure God’s forgiveness and acceptance of us when He gave His perfect life in exchange for ours as a penalty for our sin.
Our service, in light of what Christ did for us on the cross, is simply to show our love and obedience to Him. It’s our way of saying “I’ve been freed from the yoke of sin and I have a new master now … it’s the Lord Jesus.” Serving Him from that mindset brings joy, not stress. Serve him out of inspiration, not obligation, and you may find that instead of feeling guilt for not doing enough, you are feeling privileged to do the little that you can.
If you still find yourself thinking “I really should do more” then ask Him to show you where your ministry presently is and to help you sense His nudge (not yours) when it’s time to take on more.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of a dozen books including When Women Long for Rest, When You’re Running on Empty, and When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold). For free resources and encouragement to strengthen your walk with God or your marriage, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.