Learning to Battle Well
By Jennifer Maggio
I began working with single mothers at my local church in 2007. I could’ve never been prepared for the journey I was embarking upon, and in many ways, I’m glad I didn’t know. What started as a small single moms’ support group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with 3 single moms has now birthed a national ministry, having served 406,000 single mothers over the last decade and counting. The last ten years of serving The Life of a Single Mom Ministries’ team has been a great privilege. My heart swells, as I reflect upon the many lives changed, the chains that have fallen, the meaningful relationships that have birthed, and the hope that has risen. For God to have used me in a small part of this is humbling and I am honored, and I know you feel the same way, as leaders.
But the journey through leadership in church and ministry is hard. There are unspoken rules no one teaches you, sleepless nights, financial challenges, and the criticism can be heavy, at best. The challenges presented in ministry families is one that most won’t experience, as you battle spiritually, day and night. Tears shed will only be known by our Heavenly Father as we grieve for families we serve or our own heartbreaks that we can’t share. Doors of opportunity are often not simply shut in our faces, but sometimes slammed – loudly. There have been far more no’s than yeses. There’s also the disappointment of failed armor bearers who come and go, those you somehow disappointed, and the lack of meaningful rest.
Years of sexual assault, the death of my parents, poverty, single parenting, and abuse have left me well-versed in how difficult the battles can get. But the battle faced in ministry can be a new challenge, all its own. It presents new obstacles one may have never experienced otherwise. But it’s all worth it in the end if precious souls come to know a Savior who loves them more than comprehension. With Mother’s Day hanging in the air, I can’t help but think of the great blessings in my life, including my three children, an adoring husband, and many friends and family that make my life rich and full. And for as many days as I’ve been tempted to huddle in a corner like a woman with no hope, I’ve been far more encouraged to learn what it is to battle well. If I could give you a cup of coffee and 15 minutes huddled on a couch in my living room, here’s what I would tell you about learning to battle:
1. Recognize that you are not helpless. Our Father owns cattle on a thousand hills. He created Heaven and Earth and everything in it. He knew you before you were born and your children and what will one day be there children. Seas bow at his command. Stars rise at the sound of his voice. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against our Father’s children. We stand full of courage, ready to fight the good fight, knowing it comes, but further knowing victory is ours. We don’t crumble when battles come, we rise. For it is truly, when our God does His best work.
2. You are still called. When we face battles with our families, finances, or ministry, we can often question the call of God on our lives. Are we being punished? What does attack after attack come? Did we miss it? Romans 11:29 says “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Be reminded this day that even when it has gotten hard, the criticism came, the friend left, the finances were shaky, at best, God didn’t remove your gifts and your calling. He is adequately equipped you for such a time as this.
3. Walk in your gifting. Do what you were created to do. Don’t fall to the weight of comparison, looking at what our sisters or brothers in Christ are doing. Do what God called you to do. Peace falls upon us as we walk out these gifts. If you were called to prophesy, speak out. If you have the gift of hospitality, host. If you know how to make a mean lasagna, feed. Give generously what the Lord has give you. (See Romans. 12:6-8).
4. Keep praying and persevering in patience. When it gets hard, and it will, keep doing what you’ve always known to do. Press, pray. Commune with the Lord. Romans 12:2 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
5. Be ready for war. Take up your sword and fight. Don’t cower, questioning if it’s worth it. Your help comes from the Lord. Arm yourself with spiritual armor. Get thick skin, recognizing the hurt that many carry. Praise, even when you don’t feel like it. Pray, when you aren’t sure if God is listening. Preach, when it’s hard. Love, when it’s harder.
I look up to the mountains, does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Ps. 121: 1-8 NLT
Jennifer Maggio is an author of 4 books, national speaker, and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is wife to Jeff and mother to three children. Her story has been featured in hundreds of media venues, including Daystar Television, The New York Times, The 700 Club, James Dobson Radio, Power Women, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.