By Rebekah Bullard
Recently, I attended a conference where I had the opportunity to be interviewed. I didn’t really know what the topic of the interview would be until I walked up to the microphone at my assigned time. I thought they might ask me about my ideas for best practices in my ministry strategies. Since I am a woman who leads in the church and a mom, I didn’t get the opportunity to talk about my successes in my job that day; I got to talk about something much more raw and tender. He asked me about the tension of fulfilling two significant roles, that of a mom and a ministry leader.
It was one of those moments where something that seems completely normal to you is a rare phenomenon to others. Again I was reminded how unconventional my choice to work outside the home as a full-time ministry leader, in a very male-driven leadership culture that celebrates traditional gender roles, truly is.
I shared with the man asking the questions about how when my baby was 3 months old, I joined the ranks of full-time ministry in the local church and I have never left. My daughter is now 8 years old and it is all we know as a family. He looked at me very surprised and said, “I have never heard of that before in my life.”
His response to my story really stuck with me. I felt as if he looked at me like I told him I could grow wings and fly. This wasn’t first time I have been asked about my choice to work outside the home. I have gotten the, “I don’t know how to lead a mom” line from male supervisors, and the, “Don’t you ever just want to stay home and be a mama?” line from other moms. Time after time, my family’s unconventional choices have left me feeling sucker-punched.
I have felt left out. I have felt judged. I have felt pulled. I have felt like I didn’t fit. I have felt jealous. I have felt stupid. I have felt like I can’t do it all.
But here is the truth: when I made the choice to work full-time after having a baby at 25 years old, I was totally unaware of the dividing line between “Working Moms” and “Stay at Home Moms.” I was ignorant to the fact that, years later, this would be a “hot topic” that I am asked about on a regular basis. I definitely didn’t know how it would be one of the most rewarding, but yet hardest things I would ever do in my life.
I just knew that God was calling me to this job and I also happened to be a mama.
This choice for me was less about a stance or an idea; it was more about God using my gifts and abilities in the home and outside the home as a leader. There was no question that God was opening up a door for me. Everything around us at the time supported this as the direction that God was leading our family.
It wasn’t a question if I should do it or not; the only question was how I would be able to grow myself to all that God was calling me to be.
That’s what I think is the most important in all of this, no matter your choice as a woman — Embrace growth. Be willing to do harder things than you ever thought you could. Step out in confidence. Shed off beliefs or fear of what others might think of you. Hold tight to Christ so that He can give you direction in every season. Fully pursue “God’s best” for your life instead of “society’s best.” Accept total reliance on God when there is nowhere else to turn. Use your voice.
In my story, all of this looked like working outside the home. God has honored this decision and He has been gracious to increase my leadership over the years. Due to my decision— I have become a much better wife and mom. I have learned so much about who I am and how I can be the healthiest version of myself to serve my family AND my ministry. I have been able to spur on others in leadership, build environments of hope, create community among women, play intricate roles within a team, develop strategies to help families and be a face for other women who lead and empower teams.
Ultimately, I have been able to help build the kingdom of God inside and outside the home.
It has been hard. There have been many tears. I had to figure out how to manage my home, love my family and lead the way in my job all at the same time. I lay my head down feeling more stretched on some days than others; but everyday, God is faithful. Instead of listening to the lies of the enemy on my decision to live out my purpose, I must choose daily to reflect on the truth.
I feel proud. I feel strong. I feel obedient. I feel like a role model. I feel capable. I feel confident. I feel in complete awe of the faithfulness of The Lord.
My hope for all you mamas out there is this: Worry less about the version of yourself everyone else thinks you should become, and trust more the steps that God is ordering uniquely just for you.
When you look back on it all, you may not be able to recount how you did it all, but I believe that is the beauty of your story. Whatever it may look like— let your story draw others toward the One who helped you to do the impossible.
Rebekah loves to call Nashville “home,” but she is a Texas girl to the core and firmly believes that there is not much chips and salsa can’t fix. Rebekah spends her time as a full-time working mama leading teams and partnering with families in ministry, while also walking beside her dreamer husband to the ends of the Earth. She is passionate about seeing people step into the confidence of all that God has calling them to be and creating places of community where people can say, “Me too.” Rebekah has been married to Chris, her college sweetheart, for 10 years. They have one beautiful daughter, Gracie Ann. She serves as the Kids Pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville and writes about looking for hope in the unlikely places at www.rebekahbullard.com.