Today's post was written by Brook Hills member, Nan Priest. Nan is a healthcare executive at St. Vincent's Health System and is currently the chair of the Birmingham AHA Go Red Executive Leadership Team, chair of the Momentum Alumnae Board, and chair of the Kiwanis Youth of the Year Committee. She is married to Marlin and has two adult daughters.

Last winter TCABH hosted a conference on The Gospel at Work. A few months before the conference, I had received a call from one of the conference organizers asking if I would lead a session on "Women, Work and Productivity." That call was the beginning of many questions, a time of discovery, and eventually some interesting revelations. Why would I even be asked? What could I share? Why is this even a separate topic in a conference like this? What are the current topics for women who work outside the home? Are there differences in the secular perspective vs. that of the church?

So for the last 18 months, I have been on an interesting journey. I have found God often works in my life in themes. He provides a series of life lessons (some might call coincidences) that tie together over time for the purpose of insight, preparation, and most likely for sharing with others. The beauty of getting older is the ability to see the pattern and to trust that “there is something out there – a reason” and that I don’t have to understand today. I can simply rest in the need to be obedient, trust, learn all I can, and know that He will reveal in His time. The most recent theme centers around work/leadership. More about that later….

I will start this story by sharing what one of my typical days looked like this week.

  • I was up by 6:00am and out the door by 7:00am.
  • As I drove to my office, I had an early morning conference call regarding health care matters in the current legislative session.
  • As I arrived at the office, an elderly couple got off of the elevator that I was getting on and was visibly lost. I asked if I could help and then ended up escorting them to the admitting area where he was scheduled for a procedure that day. As we walked I learned a lot about their lives, their concerns for the day, the fact that he is the mayor of a small town and most importantly I was able to offer a prayer for his rapid recovery.
  • Early in the day I was able to meet with a young female professional who I had agreed to serve as mentor.
  • My first major meeting of the day was a multi-disciplinary group working to finalize our three year strategic plan and our upcoming multi-million annual budget. We spent time prioritizing and assigning team leads for each initiative.
  • As I walked back to my office, I took a few minutes to talk with one of our associates, he has worked with us for over 40 years helping us to keep our facilities clean, and he recently lost his wife.
  • In my office I dealt with over 158 emails and multiple phone calls during the day.
  • I noted on my calendar that it was the birthday of a colleague who recently retired – I sent him a birthday text. In the afternoon, I had three additional meetings, one to discuss restructure of a particular department, one to plan for a development project, and a regular weekly meeting with one of my direct reports.
  • I completed forms for my financial pledge to the new cancer center that we recently constructed.
  • I also prepared a script for an upcoming Youth of the Year Award – a civic organization that I belong to which recognizes outstanding high school seniors with scholarships, and I am chairing this year’s committee.
  • As I drove home, I made phone calls to learn additional information regarding competitive activity in our market.
  • And this was my afternoon to pick up my grandson at his school - the highlight of my week.

This is an average day, and it is what I have done for 35 years. This is work, and until 18 months ago, I haven’t thought much about why or how I might explain my personal philosophy to others. I have worked outside the home AND raised a family AND stayed involved in my church and community my entire adult life. Am I trying to be super woman? No, I am simply working hard and serving others – living life. I am trying to be obedient and to grow spiritually, to remember my true purpose in this world, and to lead and to do things that will share the gospel and bring glory to God.

I grew up in a small community with strong family values and one that honored a strong work ethic. I was the first born in my family, and we were all always encouraged to do our best in all we do, certainly to do the right thing but also to give it your all – to go the extra mile. Work was part of life, and we were taught to care for others, to serve our community, to always make things better than we found them, and to realize that God is glorified in excellence. Although I was the oldest sibling, I had two younger brothers, and I can say without hesitation that I never recall being treated differently because of gender. Our best was the expectation. Both of my parents modeled servant leadership, and there was a time early in life when I adopted those values as my own.

Things to Consider

Gifting: We are taught in 1 Corinthian 12:5 “There are different kinds of service but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but the same God works all of them in men.” And in 1 Corinthians 12:11 “and He gives them each one just as He determines.” A common theme in my spiritual journey has been to understand my own God-given gifts and to make sure that I am always using those gifts to the fullest. We use gifts to serve one another. Questions that help in this discovery process might include:

  • What are your gifts? What patterns are in your life?
  • What do you enjoy?
  • What are you passionate about?

And then commit to use gifts to serve one another. Don’t’ worry about a label. It’s about glorifying God not about us.

Purpose: We are also taught scripturally that we have a clear purpose. 1 Corinthians 10:19-23 states, “Purpose is to share the gospel to the weak; I become weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” And in 10:31, “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do it all for the glory of God.” And in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord put him in the garden Eden to work it and keep it.” And of course, we all know the wonderful Scripture of Proverbs 31:10-31 about the Virtuous Woman.

Action: We are called in 1 Corinthian 9:24-27 to transformation, to train, to self– discipline for a purpose. We must learn from Jesus how to arrange our actions to enable transformation. And in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We become like what we behold. We spread the love of Christ to others in the world through a clear reflection of God’s holiness.” In 1 Corinthians 16:13, “may we stand firm.” And in Galatians 5:22-23 regarding the Fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Questions we should ask ourselves:

  • Does what we do help others?
  • Will it help unbelievers? Will I grow spiritually?
  • Will God be glorified?

Click here to read the remainder of things to consider in part two of "Women - A Calling?"