Keep Going When You’re Feeling Weary
The past year has been hard for women in ministry. When the weariness of life compounds the difficulties of lockdown ministry, how should we keep going?
There is no doubt that this has been a hard time for women in ministry and women doing the work of ministry: many of us are weary, discouraged, and overwhelmed with any sense of normality slipping further and further away.
We’re adjusting to new technology, new means of teaching, discipleship, and evangelism, dealing with illness both physical and mental, we’ve got endless lists of people to call, text, and check-in with, a constant mindfulness of those you sense are wandering away, and the list goes on and on and on.
There is an additional strain in our personal lives with kids at home, working from home, self-isolation - particularly for those who are single or live alone - the weariness of life, and the absence of the usual means of grace.
It has felt hard because it has actually been hard.
So, how should we keep going in this difficult season?
Hold on to the gospel
We must cling on to the gospel and apply its implications to our hearts in this moment of weariness.
Please remember that before you are a teacher, women’s worker, youth, children’s, small group leader, administrator, or ministry wife - before you are anybody’s mother, daughter, neighbour, friend, or flatmate - you are God’s child. You are first and foremost a child of God.
Right now, as weary as you are, you remain one for whom Christ died. You are one that has been united to Christ and therefore your Father is pleased with you. God’s pleasure in you is not dependant on your output or how many plates you’ve managed to keep spinning, but on the fact that you are his own in Christ. Meditate on and rest in these truths.
I know we know this, but we, like those we minister to, need to be reminded. Don’t let your identity be grounded in the things you do or in the things you feel you’ve failed to do – let your identity be grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ and rest in him.
Guard time with your Father
When energy is lacking and the list of things to be done is getting longer and longer, there will inevitably be the pressure to skim on your devotional time. Please don’t. Everything else you think you are doing for the Lord will suffer if you are not walking with him.
Be the Mary who chose the single thing that is needful for that and every day: to sit at her Jesus’ feet. I know we feel that instant rebuttal “there are just not enough hours in the day and that means things won’t get done”. Yes, that may well be the case, things may not get done.
But it’s interesting: Mary not joining Martha would have meant that some things were left undone, some food wouldn’t have been prepared on time, they may have been short a few plates that didn’t make it into the dishwasher. Knowing all this, Jesus still commended Mary.
It may mean you’re not as prepped as you would like to be, it may mean you have to email and ask for a little extra time on getting a document back to your pastor, it may mean some things are undone. But a version of you walking with the Lord and empowered by the Spirit is better than a version of you who is spiritually burnt out and feels like a hypocrite as you give your perfectly prepped study. Prioritise time with your Father.
On a side note, do be creative about what this time looks like. Maybe you spend the whole week with just one passage. Use music, meditation, and repetition to engrave true things into your heart.
Tell the truth
This is very practical but please be honest with your church leaders about your capacity.
As a woman on the team we never really want to say that we can’t do something, or that it’s all a bit too much. But please don’t let your pride or the fear of looking incompetent keep you from speaking to your brothers.
As we come out of lockdown (and in, and out, and in, and out again) it may be tempting to try and get everything back up and running. Do be honest about your capacity and realistic with your expectations - maybe focus on two or three things, do them well, and pick up other things as you go.
We are not God: we are limited, we get tired, we need to pace ourselves and be honest with ourselves and our church leaders.
Lift your eyes for help
Psalm 121 (ESV translation below) has breathed life into me time and time again as my new layers of weariness has been uncovered. It reads:
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Be encouraged and strengthened by the knowledge that God, the one who made heaven and earth, is the one who is helping us in our weariness and weakness.
He doesn’t slumber or sleep – when we’re functioning on a 3 out of 10 he remains on an eternal 10!
He is the one who is able to keep us - and even more than that keep the people we’ve forgotten to text.
Praise the Lord!