We love what we get the God-given opportunity to do. We love working with churches, pastors, and anyone who has a heart to serve single mothers and their families. What a special group of people you are! When speaking to you, there is a common theme among the discussion. “I’m tired. Am I making a difference? How do I keep pushing through?” Many of you are bordering on burnout or are already there. The needs of single moms are diverse and can be taxing on those of you who have stepped up to lead in single moms’ ministries, support groups, Bible studies (or really anywhere else!)
We know what you mean. We’ve been there so many times. Even with the grace-giving hand of God so abundantly blessing the work of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, there is still that little voice inside that asks, “Am I making a difference? Should I be doing this? I’m exhausted; how can I go on?” If you’ve served in ministry in any capacity, you know the feeling all-too-well. Here are some words of advice:
- Know your role. When we understand that our role is not fix anyone, we then understand that we do not have to fix the world. The role of the Holy Spirit is to guide change, transform hearts, and compel people to make different choices. We are not in the business of fixing others. We are in the business of pointing people to the One who can. Our role is to continue to direct people to the Lord Jesus as their source of strength, courage, patience, and prayer answerer. Once we release ourselves from any other role, there is great freedom in that!
- Rest. In the early years of ministry, this was the hardest, for our founder. We suspect it’s a hard one for you, too! When you are filled with passion for ministering to single mothers, you just want to change the world. There’s much work to be done, many to be saved, and lives to be changed. You are likely driven, a hard worker, and passionate. You are on fire for God and want other single moms to be there, as well. Single moms’ ministry is what we do! It is a burning passion that our staff has. And there is much work to be done in this area of service. But we must rest. We must take time to simply sleep, sit on the couch with nothing to do, and do nothing. Put down our phones, so we aren’t expending energy and just be. Be quiet. Be restful. Be still. It is vital to our effectiveness in ministry.
- Set boundaries. Boundaries are necessary and you will not continue the work long-term, if you do not adhere to certain boundaries. Whatever the boundaries are that you decide are right for your family, stick to them. For example, if you will be able to return phone calls between 5pm-7pm every night, then do that. Don’t the need to return phone calls all day. Or maybe you have set aside the second Saturday of every month as “lunch with a single mom day”. Then stick to it. The needs will always be there. It is important that you find boundaries that work for you and your family and understand that for your own health, you need to stick to them. This is especially important as your ministry grows.
- Stay spiritually healthy. You cannot give, when you do not receive. Stay in the Word. Stay in prayer. Continue with regular church attendance. Pray without ceasing. All the things that have contributed to your journey with the Lord are the things that will sustain that journey as you minister to others. It is important that you stay healthy. Bitter roots will nest. Offense will creep into your heart when you are criticized (and you will be criticized!), if you aren’t prayed up and spiritually healthy.
- Accountability is healthy. Your ministry should be structured such that you are accountable to your pastor, a mentor, or a church leader. They see things that we sometimes can’t, when we are knee-deep in ministry. They offer perspective. They help to keep us safe. They offer advice.
- Sabbaticals are important. Know when it is time for an extended rest. For me, I have always taken extended time during the summer, when my kids are out of school. We don’t host our regular meetings during the summer. We host some summer events, but not with the regularity that we do during the school year. We also take time off during holidays. This allows for a time of refreshing, extended family time, and perspective.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com