The Cost of Too Many Commitments

Photo image credit Katie Swanson.

“You know, it’s okay if your primary ministry focus is your husband and your kids.”

I don’t remember the details of the conversation with my mother-in-law leading up to that comment, but those words were the impetus to a change in my mom of small children perspective. I knew I wanted my primary role at that point in my life to be wife and mother, but it wasn’t until someone else said it out loud that I started to seriously think about what it meant.

My husband was a project manager for a construction company and depending on what point he was at in a project, he could work some pretty long hours. On top of his job, he was heavily involved in ministry. His roles as worship leader and youth leader required hours and hours of his time.

I was a stay-at-home mom, and I was involved in more things than I could balance with Corey’s commitments. I volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center, led our church missions team, substituted as a children’s Sunday School teacher, freelanced for the local newspaper and took part in an in-depth women’s Bible study.

I had convinced myself that since I didn’t have a real job, (mama’s of young kids out there who are reading this, please know that being a stay-at-home mom is very much a real job) I should have plenty of time to juggle a number of outside commitments.

I was wrong. Having too many commitments was causing undue tension and frustration.

Finding a babysitter so I could volunteer was an ongoing burden. The mission team was always looming in the back of my mind. I felt like I needed to be doing more, and doing what I was doing better. Subbing in Sunday School was really not stressful, but each time I subbed, I missed out on being in class with my husband – something we had chosen to do together because we didn’t have time in our schedule to be in a weeknight small group.

Often my commitments and Corey’s would coincide, and we were left with the question of what to do with the kids. All of these things led to stress that left me a half-empty wife and mom, and cost me the ability to support my husband and love my kids like I wanted to.

I decided to take my mother-in-law’s advice. I sorted through my priorities and cut down on my commitments. In the end, I was left with Bible study and freelance writing.

Stepping back from outside ministries cost me some things I was passionate about, but allowed me to have a full tank for my family.

Photo image credit, Kim Harms.Because I had very minor outside responsibilities hanging over my head, I was able to focus more time on things like meal-planning and outings with the kids. And our family discovered an unexpected benefit of focusing on our home life. We found we had time to practice some hospitality. We started inviting a group a teens from the youth ministry over every Monday night for dinner and games.

Because I was able to step back and evaluate my priorities, I was blessed with the opportunity to have a role in one of my husband’s ministries. And my children were blessed with some pretty terrific teenage role models.  Monday evenings were in many ways a gift to all of us.

Our kids are older now, and I’ve taken on more outside responsibilities, but I will never regret the years I cut back in order to make our home a happier healthier place.

Sometimes we need to take the time to evaluate our commitment level. Though our culture would have us believe otherwise, busy is not always better.

Kim Harms

Kim Harms is a writer and speaker who is represented by Literary Agent Karen Neumair of Credo Communications. She is under contract with Familius Publishing for her first book, tentatively titled Life Reconstructed. Harms has a degree in English: Literary Studies from Iowa State University and was a regular contributor at the former Today's Christian Woman. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and writes about her Life Reconstructed at Central Iowa is home, and she lives there with her husband Corey and their 3 ever-growing man-children.

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  1. Such wisdom! As another SAHM for 13 years, I’ve discovered that less can mean SO much more! Focusing on the priorities God has placed in front of me, I’ve been able to find true joy in my role as mom and homemaker and less resentment over what I’m not a part of. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Amy, your words are a timely reminder for all of us, no matter what stage of life we are in. When my kids were small, I was in the over burdened, over-committed group for a long time – too long of a time. Oh that I had learned that lesson sooner. But thank-fully I did, and we reaped huge benefits.

    Now, I am grandmother, and work full time as well as fulfill other ministry duties, yet my heart has been drawing me to pair down my involvement so I can write more.

    Thank-you for this post. I will be sharing it with my readers. 🙂

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