In high school, I was dedicated to my career and set down the path to become a journalist. I volunteered to produce a weekly newscast with college students…in high school! And when I saw that being a motivated self-learner helped open doors, I knew that it wasn’t enough to just sit back and wait for new opportunities to present themselves. Doing what I wanted meant taking initiative.
About halfway through college, I felt the Lord calling me to surrender my career to Him. To some, surrendering a career means entering the work force as a minister, but that wasn’t so for me.
I struggled for a couple of years and hoped that God would show me the path He wanted me to pursue. It was frustrating; I’m a planner…I like to know what happens next. I wrestled with the unknown and daily have to surrender. “Lord, whatever it is you want me to do today…lead, and I’ll follow.”
Now, I work for an amazing ministry business. We work each day to resource churches so they can make disciples. We pray at work, we pray for our work, and we work together with a Kingdom-expanding focus. But we are still a business, and the work I do is still part of my career.
The conversation about women in the workplace seems outdated but it still exists, and with an added pressure to “do it all.” I feel like this pressure is even more intense for Christian women who want to work and have a family. We feel like we need to do it all; be on top of our game at work and be a godly wife and mother for our families. For most of us, the pressure doesn’t begin when Prince Charming slips the ring on our finger, either. It starts early and may even impact our future decisions at work and home.
Here are six tips from Glamour magazine (of all places) for women in the work force:
Remember, Wonder Woman doesn’t exist. She is fiction, and you are real. Building a life on fantasy is never a good thing.
Learn from the guys. Men know there’s only so much they can do at once. If the budget report’s due, the lawn goes unmowed. Women try to keep everything going, all the plates spinning. It’s OK to set down a plate. Just choose which one.
Stay close to home. As your life gets more complicated, having family around is a godsend, so live by parents or siblings. Find the right partner. Sheryl Sandberg said it in Lean In, but it bears repeating.
Marry someone you love and like; finding a person who doesn’t care if you’re perfect is a good start.
Banish guilt from your social life. You don’t have to accept every invitation. Before you RSVP, ask yourself: (1) Is it required for work? (2) Will it help you professionally or intellectually? (3) Will you enjoy it? If the answer to all three is no, don’t go.
Commit to a workout regimen. It feels like one more gotta-be- perfect obligation, but exercise is a stress reliever: If I didn’t run, swim, or lift weights, I almost certainly would have killed someone by this point in my life.
Pick a job you love. If your career is satisfying, you’re more likely to stick with it after having kids. Women flee consulting and banking in droves; female doctors, though, tend to stay put, perhaps because no one enters medical school on a whim.
The most crucial thing for women to know today? No one does it all. We each, if we’re lucky, will have our chance to leave a mark on the world, but we are trying too hard to be perfect. So don’t emulate Wonder Woman; think about what’s wonderful to you instead. Then boldly, audaciously, joyfully, leave the rest behind.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a great book for women in the workforce. I didn’t think women’s issues was actually an issue, but it was a seriously great read that opened my eyes to a lot of things. I’ll be sharing more about it on the blog soon!
Ladies, what’s your biggest fear about balancing work and family life?