I worked at home and didn’t earn a paycheck. Our family was impacted by my choice, both for the good and the bad. Below are my thoughts on this age-old debate from the angle of a mom who did not work outside of her home. On the other side of the coin, we have words written by a wonderful woman of faith, Janae Gibson, who works at DBU. We are both moms who prayed for wisdom to know the right thing for our families. And the Lord gave us different answers. I hope you will read these words of encouragement and then pray for God’s wisdom for you and yours. Although we realize not everyone has the luxury of debating this issue, we have confidence that God is in all circumstances and ready to bless those who seek his will.
Work or Work at Home?
by Janet Denison
If there was an easy or correct answer to this question then it would have been answered by now. The debate continues because the only good answer is the choice that works best for your family. Everyone is different – both parents and children. And the word “work” is not a simple definition either.
According to recent government statistics, women make up almost half of the U.S. work force. Seventy percent of women, with children under the age of eighteen, work. Seventy-five percent of those moms work full-time. Forty percent are the sole-earner for the family. Current technology has enabled women to be creative with their working arrangements and has created a wide range of career options. (I’m working right now, at home, with the washing machine churning in the background.)
I’ve often encouraged moms to stay home as much as possible. A lot of the “quality time” I shared with my kids happened, not because I planned it, but because I was able to be present for moments or conversations.
I wanted to be the one who picked them up from school or drove them to a friend’s house or a baseball practice. But, I just erased my original words for the previous sentence. I had written, “I enjoyed being the one who . . .” I erased the sentence, because the words weren’t completely true. I really didn’t “enjoy” waiting in a carpool line. I really didn’t “enjoy” trying to get two boys, to two different baseball fields, because both teams scheduled practices at the same time.
There were a LOT of days when I wondered if I was spending my life investing in other people’s lives, instead of my own. There were a LOT of days when I wondered if I was spending my time like God intended. I often asked myself, “Am I too busy doing good things for kids rather than God things for the Kingdom?” Looking back, my honest answer is, “Sometimes.”
Raising kids is work…whether you work outside the home or inside the home; whether you work for a paycheck or whether you struggle to live without one; The only thing I am certain of in this on-going debate is that there is no easy answer – just the best answer that works for your family.
Should you work, or work at home? Either decision might provide a paycheck these days, either decision has value, but any choice has consequences to consider.
- Can you afford to do without a paycheck? Will the financial strain cause damage to your family or limit the quality of everyone’s lives?
- The decision to use public school or private school might determine your choice.
- If you consider the expenses of working, how much does working increase the bottom line of the budget? The net value is the number to consider.
- Which decision leads to the overall happiness of everyone in the family? The old adage, “If momma ain’t happy” is a pretty good one, but no one is ever happy all of the time. And no one person’s happiness should come at the expense of the others’.
- Parents teach their children how to treat each other, how to support one another and how to compromise with one another. Parents teach their children how to build a strong family.
I’ve changed my thinking on this over the years, largely because our culture has changed so much. Whatever answer you choose, needs to be the answer that each member of the family will work to make successful. And that is the beauty of the question, “Work or work at home?” There is a choice to be made and your family is worthy of the debate. Your kids will constantly make you wonder if you made the right decision. There are no perfect parents, no perfect kids, and no perfect solutions. Shoot for the best choice and work out the consequences.
Finally, and most importantly, ask God. You can get advice from an article like this one, but not an answer. You can discuss the topic with friends but they don’t know what is best for you and your family. You can study both sides of an issue and still not know where to stand yourself. The only correct answer is the one your perfect God will guide you to make. Should you work or work at home?
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
There is an answer to the “work” question, but that answer is God’s to give. The Lord is anxious to help us when we face the big choices in our lives. Ask, and expect his answer. It will come to you through Scripture, prayer and wise counsel from godly people. God created the concept of “family” and the Lord has been fighting to preserve our families ever since. He is fighting to care for you and yours today.
I worked at home, and didn’t earn a paycheck. Our family was impacted by my choice. The second article today is written by a wonderful woman of faith, who works at DBU. I think both of us prayed for the wisdom to know the right thing to do for our families. Take time to read her article and consider her words of encouragement. Then pray for God’s wisdom, for you and yours. God wants you to ask and is ready to answer.
5 Steps to Becoming a Successful Christian Working Mom
by Janae Gibson
Recently, I heard someone tell a Christian working mother, “You just can’t have it all.” I smiled and thought to myself, “Oh, yes she can.” She just needs to know that she is called to do it and God will bring her through it! You can’t be a perfectionist as a Christian working mother, but you can require and expect excellence from yourself.
It is possible to have it all. “All” equates to something different for each woman and mother. Define your all and then pray over your desires, and with God’s help you can set out to achieve it.
My definition of “all”:
Honoring and serving my Savior, my husband, and my children while following the Lord’s call on my life.
When I read Proverbs 31, I become encouraged, inspired, and authentically excited about what the Lord has created me to do as a woman. Some read the Proverbs 31 woman as a stay-at-home mom and do-all-things domestic and Pinteresty. For some, that is the Proverbs 31 woman, which is wonderful because that is what the Lord has called them to be.
OK, let’s get real here. This may ruffle some feathers or get some Christian mama glares, but I enjoy using my God-given gifts outside the home to make a profit. Boom—I said it! I like knowing I’m contributing to the family in this way. I know there is very little encouragement out there for Christian working mothers because I have been one for many years and experience this deficiency in ministry each day.
It may be the most important time for us as Christian working mamas to be in the working arena. More women are being promoted to positions of leadership than ever before. Don’t we want these women in leadership roles to be Christian influencers and radiate servant leadership?
Not every woman is created to work outside their home or has the opportunity. Not every mom is called to homeschool. Not every woman will have children or a husband. However, we are ALL called to serve our Lord and adhere to our calling.
5 tips on how to have it ALL
Pray about your calling. What is your passion? What are you on this earth to do? This is vital to your life. Life is short, and you don’t want to waste a moment. Ask for God’s direction and provision.There were times at the beginning of understanding my call that I would just cry out to the Lord and tell Him every thought and fear I had. I was so worried I was going to be out of his will. The struggle was real. I would find myself saying, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are always on you.” I had seasons of staying at home with my two children, deciding not to work. I took time away from work to be with my grandfather, who was dying of cancer.
These were times I knew I was not supposed to be a Christian working mama. The Lord was so sweet to open up a better opportunity upon my return to work. God wants to show you his way. He may open a door you would never have considered. His provision is perfect. His timing is too.
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
1 John 5:14–15 NLT
- Define your career goal
What is your career calling?
Your college degree may drive your calling, but the one thing that helped me determine my career calling was a personality test. Yep, that was it! I took the Now Discover Your Strengths test in 2008. This changed the trajectory of my life and career path.
Find a boss that understands family comes first. This is NOT easily found, but once you do, hold on to that job. The Lord isn’t going to call you to something that he isn’t willing to sustain you through. It may be difficult at times, and try your patience and willingness, but he is with you each step of the way.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”
1 Peter 4:10 NLT
Talk to your spouse honestly about God’s call on your life and your dreams.
Maybe you need to work for financial gain, or you want to use a degree you worked hard to earn, or perhaps the Lord put a passion in your heart for a certain vocation—whatever the reason, talk to your mate. Your husband needs to be on the same page for your career goal, childcare options, housekeeping, schedule, and the other impact working will have on your family.
I am blessed to have a spouse who noticed my struggle while staying at home. I was in a constant state of discontent and didn’t know why. I tried to feed my soul at Bible study, but something wasn’t adding up. I became very anxious and unsettled. When I opened up to my husband, he agreed that working may be the best path for me. I had no idea what I would do with my children if I went back to work. But God opened doors to childcare through sweet college friends and students. He blessed me with an amazing Christian manager (in a secular field) and really deafened all my anxious thoughts. My spouse and I came to realize that I became a better follower of Christ, wife, mother, and friend when I chose to work outside the home.
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
Proverbs 12:25 NIV
- Find the best childcare
This will look differently for all working mothers. Over the years, I have learned to be creative and scrappy when it comes to childcare. As long as my children were in the presence of loving Christian caretakers that I trusted, I was able to fulfill my calling as a Christian working mother.
When considering going into the workforce after having a child, finding wonderful Christians to love on my kiddos was priority #1.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”
Psalm 127:3 NLT
- Ask yourself a question
The question I asked myself was, “If I were to die today, would I have regretted working outside of my home?” As morbid as it sounds, this question can help you realize if you are making a mistake by working.
Christians know we will have no regrets once in the presence of the Lord, but asking this question helped me solidify my understanding of God’s call on my life. So, if you are called to work, own your calling. Teach your children you are choosing to be obedient to the Lord and then live that example in front of them, to his glory.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”
Colossians 3:23–24 NLT
Go boldly and courageously Christian working mothers! I commend you and encourage your efforts!