Originally published Wednesday, 24 January 2024.
I love this God-given opportunity He has placed in my life. I love being a mom of three very different children, two whom are adults now. I love being a wife, a friend, and a coworker. I love working with churches, pastors, and anyone who has a heart to serve single mothers and their families. However, there have been too many times to count over the years, that I worked myself into complete exhaustion and burn-out. In that place of exhaustion, I found myself short-tempered, rude, bitter, angry and unwilling to share why.
Whether we answer to wife, mom, student, employee, pastor, or a hundred other roles, the common theme among us is wondering if we are making a difference in our world and how can we keep pushing through? I am convinced this is most true of women. Too many of us are burnt out, exhausted, and tired, but we fear if we do something about it or tell others, we will be perceived as weak, less than, or imperfect.
I know exactly how you feel I have found myself being that girl. I have been there so many times. Although, God was extending His hand of grace so abundantly blessing my ministry work, my marriage, my children, there is still that little voice inside me that asking, "Am I making a difference? Should I be doing this? How can I go take a break to recharge to go on when the needs of those around me are so great?" It was only when I was near drowning in exhaustion, I sought God through my desperation He revealed some revelations that I would like to share with you:
Know your role. When we understand that our role in life is not to be everything to everyone, is when we fully understand that we do not have to fix the world, our kids or our coworkers. We are not in the business of fixing others. We are in the business of pointing people in the direction to the God who can. Our role in life is to continue to direct people to the Lord Jesus as their source of strength, courage, patience, and prayer answerer – we were never designed to be those things.
Rest. In the early years of ministry, this was the hardest for me. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am driven, hard-working, and passionate. Single moms' ministry keeps me up at night. The desire to see my children succeed burns within me. Making sure my job performance is efficient is also important to me, there is so much work to be done in all these areas. More than that we must rest. We must take time to just sleep, sit on the sofa with nothing to do, and simply do nothing. It is vital to our effectiveness in relationships.
Set boundaries. Whatever the boundaries you have put in place, it important that you stick to them. For example, between the hours of 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, you have a sit-down meal with your family at the dinner table, do not accept phone calls during that time. If you have decided that one Saturday per month is set aside for date night with your spouse, protect that. When we set boundaries in our lives, it tells those we work with, our girlfriends, and our ministries that we value our rest enough to protect it. 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.
Stay spiritually healthy. You cannot give when you do not receive. Stay in God's word. Stay in prayer. Continue with regular church attendance. Pray without ceasing. All the things that have contributed to your Christian journey with the Lord are the things that will sustain you on throughout this journey as you become an encouragement to others.
Accountability is healthy. Your life should be structured in such a way that you are accountable to others in your life such as your pastor, spouse, ministry leader, a mentor. Experience and wisdom have taught them to recognize and see things that we sometimes are unable to see when we are knee-deep in the midst of life. They offer perspective and instruction. They help keep us safe.
Sabbaticals are important. Know when it is time for extended rest. It is not always possible to do so immediately, but for some, it may be intentionally taking a five to seven rest from social media, work, and ministry responsibilities. For me, I have always taken extended time off work during the summer, when my kids are home from school. Whatever extended rest looks like for you, do it when needed. This allows you a time of refreshing, extended family time, and the ability to gain new perspective.
Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.