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.
Click here to read part one of "Work - A Calling?"
Our population is roughly half female, and the number of women in the work force is roughly 47%. Approximately 74% of women over age 25 are in the work force, which is significantly up from the 1950s when it was only 37%, but this has stalled at 74% for the last 25 years.
In the business world, we are now seeing that, although there is significant research that shows that the healthiest companies have a strong representation of women in top positions and that women do have more opportunities than ever, statistics still show that only 14% of executive level positions are filled by females and that only 3% of CEOs are female. We are also seeing that, because our young women really do now have a choice, many are choosing not to seek those positions.
Therefore, as the Baby Boomer generation starts to retire, there may actually be a shortage of those prepared to step into top positions. As a result, there are many of us in my generation now working to provide leadership development for our young women. In some industries, especially sciences and technology, there is a significant under-representation of women.
Women bring unique qualities to the work environment. The skills/characteristics of women make for a stronger more collaborative community. Women value teams, are persuasive, and are generous. Our communities need the leadership difference that women can make. Our opportunity is immense to bring compassion, collaboration, courage, and a spirit-led pragmatism all in keeping with our strong Christian values.
Although the need for women in leadership in the work place is documented and real, there is also a strong tension in how to maximize the qualities for God’s glory in both the home and the marketplace. Is it possible to do it all? It certainly sometimes seems impossible, and it definitely isn’t easy. And, yes, you have to be realistic, organized, and consider your circumstances. Nor does everything always come in equal doses in terms of time, and certainly, one size doesn’t fit all.
Is our first priority to our family? Absolutely. Does it take a strong support system to develop the balance necessary to make it all work? Absolutely.
As you can see, I could go on and on about this part of the topic, but for now, I will leave this to another day (maybe another blog). But my daughters would tell you here that a favorite saying that I have shared with them through the years is “we do what we want to do.”
Now let’s just think of all the above as background and focus on the "now what":
- Commit to your spiritual journey – to strengthening and growing your personal relationship with God and becoming more Christlike in character.
- Fruit of the Spirit
- Being a light for the world
- Servant leadership
- Integrate personal values with work life
- Commit to share the gospel at work
- By modeling behavior
- Leading with integrity
- Seeing and seizing the moments to share
- Giving credit to the Lord
- Language – blessings vs. luck
- Actions – kindness and love
- Competency – using God-given gifts
- Grace – joy and gratitude
- Attitude – positive and hopeful
- Be an example/be a disciple/be faithful
- Seek opportunities to disciple and to support other women
- Start a Bible study or start a prayer time
- Quietly minister to those in need
- Be professional/ biblical/ realistic
- Good News: You don’t have to figure out your whole life plan right now. Commit to lifelong learning, a lifelong spiritual journey
- Trust Him
- He will provide and guide
- Not of your own accord
- He is faithful
- He is trustworthy
So when you look around our culture right now and hear the debate (which by the way has been the same debate for several generations now): Why aren’t more women leading? What about the "mommy wars"? Can women have it all? In the church, should women work outside the home? Is work a calling?
I would challenge that these may be the wrong questions. They are “a distraction,” and we have to be cautious of the ever-changing winds of societal pressures to tell us what is right.
The important questions:
- Are you in relationship with Christ?
- Are you using the gifts God has given you to their fullest potential?
- Are you taking the opportunities God presented you and maximizing your efforts to honor Him?
- Are you using the work you do (whatever and wherever) to glorify God, to further the gospel?
There are times when it may be clear that your work is a calling (an opportunity with a strong value match and a chance to serve others), but there are other times that work may be a means to your calling. What we do know is God tells us that work is good. Work is God’s intention for our lives (Gen. 1-2). Work is done not only to benefit the worker but others also (Ex. 23:10-11). Work was created by God (Gen. 2:15). Work is a gift from God, and His people will be blessed (Ps. 104.). And whether or not our particular vocation (at a particular time) might be considered a calling, this will be determined through the fulfillment of His will for our lives. We all work, and the venue in which we do it is His provision for our good and His glory.
- God loves YOU
- He designed YOU
- He gave you a purpose
- He wants you to rest confidently in that knowledge
- He calls us to serve – servant leadership
He wants you to use your gifts (your voice/your actions) so others may see Him through you.
Join Him in His work.
For more on the subject of women in the workplace, we recommend Carolyn McCulley's book The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, and the Home.