If you’re in our Women’s Ministry Toolbox Community Facebook group, you know that I had a bit of a ministry meltdown last fall.
I had just wrapped up the Ministry to Women Summit and a website redesign, both of which had taken months and long hours to complete. The spiritual warfare had been intense. I was exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Whispers from the deceiver tempted me to give up.
I was in a dark, lonely place, yet I desperately wanted to feel the love for women’s ministry that I once had.
As God began to bring me out of that season, I shared a bit of my struggles with the leaders in our Facebook group. I was so moved by the comments and the prayers that were offered up on my behalf. Yet, it also grieved my heart to hear that many leaders were struggling too.
I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. There is a strange comfort in knowing others are or have walked through a similar experience.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Thankfully I can now say my joy for ministry has been restored. Praise be to God.
As I fought my way out of that pit, I made several choices that helped me see the light despite the darkness.
If you’re in a season where you’ve lost your love for women’s ministry, I pray you’ll find these tips helpful and that God will use them to lead you back to a place where your joy abounds.
7 Tips to Help You Rediscover Your Joy for Women’s Ministry
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1. Stay in the Word
I am so thankful that I already had an established Bible study routine going into this season. My READ Bible study method (find out more here) takes less than 20 minutes a day (there’s a 4, 5, and 6-day plan). Focusing on just one chapter of the Bible a week was especially beneficial when life got crazy.
Despite the lengthy to-do lists, I started in God’s Word every day M-F. I needed the spiritual reset each morning.
2. Get Outside
One of the benefits of covid was that my husband and I began walking every evening in our neighborhood. My goal of 8,000 steps on my FitBit was relatively easy to reach back then.
Now admittedly, fall in North Carolina can be a bit iffy for walking outdoors. Daylight savings time had already messed with our evening walks, so many days we’d take a quick walk before dinner, but I also began walking after lunch. Walking in the sunlight lifted my spirit.
On days when walking outside wasn’t possible, I hopped on our treadmill and read a Christian fiction book on my Kindle. I also purchased a desk bike (this one here) that I began using each morning. As a writer, I spend most of my day sitting. Meeting my 8k steps each day didn’t always happen, but it gave me something to strive for.
Get moving. Any movement matters.
3. Ask for Prayer
This was HUGE for me. When I reached out to my accountability group for prayer, I felt an immediate shift in my spirit.
Once I was making progress forward, I sensed the Lord wanted me to share my experience with the leaders in the Facebook group. As I mentioned, the response was overwhelming. I credit those additional prayers with bringing me out of that season much faster than I expected. By the next week, I felt I was operating at about 90% – not back, but getting there!
4. Admit You’re Struggling
This goes with #3. Staying up late to keep up with my list of tasks was no longer working. I was battling migraines and insomnia. Mentally I couldn’t do what needed to be done. I had no choice but to stop pushing through. I paused and assessed my feelings and my calling. God was not calling me to serve somewhere else. This was spiritual warfare, and my feelings could not be trusted. I got mad, chose to fight back, and not give up. I chose to be obedient to what God called me to do.
5. Serve Others
I know this seems counterintuitive, but serving others wasn’t draining; it was life-giving! Putting others first forced my mind off of my current situation.
I set a time each day to stop all ministry work, and I put my family first (after months of near neglect). I began to clean out areas of our home and made multiple trips to a local parachurch ministry’s thrift store. Moving out the physical excess lightened my load.
6. Opt for Healthier Meals and Snacks
I reward myself with food, so the temptation during two big projects to eat a cookie or piece of chocolate as I checked off goals was strong. And emotional turmoil can encourage me to ditch the one cookie for four or a big bowl of ice cream.
Planning healthy meals was a real struggle with so much to do, and it took time I often felt I didn’t have to give.
It would have been so much easier to eat a bunch of junk, but my body was already not feeling great most days, and removing any foods that might be triggering my migraines was essential.
I didn’t eat perfectly, but I knew that fueling my body with healthy food would give me a better chance at completing all the tasks. Those times I did give in left me feeling pretty crummy after the sugar crash.
7. Pull back and press pause
I was so drained as those two projects wrapped up that pulling back and pressing pause on less essential items was a given. I needed to sleep. I needed to rest.
Putting a firm stop time on ministry work each day made a big difference in my overall health. I was forced to re-evaluate my to-do lists and even moved some projects into 2021. Relieving some of the pressure to produce even improved my sleep.
For some, this could mean delegating tasks. If you have a team (if you don’t let’s talk), they need to know you need help. It might mean hiring a cleaning crew or using a meal plan service for this season.
While I usually enjoy working hard and juggling multiple projects, I was miserable. Instinctively I knew adding more would not restore my joy. I needed a complete reset.
I discovered something amazing when I pulled back and pressed pause – I could more clearly sense God’s direction. With those fresh ideas came a renewed excitement for ministry!
Could asking for prayer and reading the Word regularly have restored my ministry joy? Most likely. But I think tending to my whole body (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) allowed me to rebound faster.
Ministry is hard, and there will always be difficult ministry seasons.