I read a blog the other day. It was about a mom who left her job to become a stay-at-home mom. I was blown away by how giving she was. I find the ladies who leave high-power or even just personally rewarding careers to focus on raising their family and having the most influence on their kids to be inspirational and incredible. Those who have that calling truly are heroes.
However, this article went on to imply that a mom who desires to work outside of her home, at the very least, should consider her reasons for it. Is it to help her family financially, or is it because she doesn’t find fulfillment in being a stay-at-home-mom? If it’s the latter, she should consider if she is making a selfish choice.
This was the overarching theme of the blog.
My brain and heart and stomach and everything inside me started to churn. My first thought was that I must be more sinful and selfish than I ever thought.
Because, here’s the thing. I know, without a doubt, that some people are called to be stay-at-home-mothers. But, as far as I can tell, I don’t think I’m called to do that.
And yes, I’m still single, so that kind of decision is years ahead of me (if I ever get there). I could one day look in the eyes of my newborn baby girl, look in my husband’s wallet, and decide that I want to stay home with her. I may one day be called to do that.
But I think there are other options on the table. For instance, I could one day look into the eyes of my baby girl, wipe a tear from my own, and drop her off at the sitters so I can go to work, the work I feel very called to.
I could one day walk into my spare bedroom that has been transformed into an office, thank the in-home part time sitter for her work, close the door, and write from home.
Although these are all hypothetical situations, this list could go on and on.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I am not convinced that either of those last two situations, regardless of whether my family needs my income or not, implies that I am making a selfish choice.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m complementarian, all the way. I believe in a biblical version of submission. I can clearly see that women are naturally more nurturing. I can also admit that however “un-domestic” I am, I am a better hostess than most of the men I know and my cookies from a cookie dough tube just taste better. These aren’t things that I cultivate in myself. They’re natural.
But these God-given “feminine” gifts do not trump the other ways I’m gifted, particularly, the gift of being able to sit at a desk, type, and the finished product spread the gospel or encourage the saints. Right now, I’m pretty confident that glorifying God through written word is my calling.
At this point in my life, I can’t picture being 100 percent satisfied staying at home. But I think that’s okay. (Again, God has the power to change my heart with no notice, and He often does, so I could read this and laugh hysterically at my naivety years from now.)
Nevertheless, I am not an exception to the rule. Even in scripture, in cultures that were vastly different from ours, there were some women who worked. Some of their jobs were even important enough to get an honorable mention in the Bible.
Take, for instance, Lydia from Acts 16:12-15. She was a businesswoman. She was well known as a “seller of purple.” In her city in Asia Minor, this was a respectable job. This job also meant that she was well off. She more than likely had servants. However, she was not so business oriented that she failed to be a good hostess. In fact, she “urged” Paul and Silas, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” Eventually her home became where the Christians gathered (v. 40).
Or, consider Dorcas from Acts 9:36-43. She very well may have been single. She might have worked from home. We don’t know. But what we do know is that she was a follower of Christ and she made an impact on others through the clothing she made. That’s a job.
Another, perhaps too obvious example, is Deborah from Judges 4 and 5. She, clearly had an outside-of-the-home job. She was a judge over Israel; in fact, she was distinguished as the godliest of all the judges. Her position also encompassed being a civil leader. And she was definitely a wife. (Judges 4:4)
Lest you think I’m stretching, even one of the most revered, respected, and exemplary wives and mothers of the Bible worked outside the home. She had servants and was heavily involved in trade, which was not common for women in her day. Ponder these descriptions of the Proverbs 31 woman.
- “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:13
- “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” 31:16
- “She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” 31:18
- “She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.” 31:24
This sure sounds like, on top of running a well-oiled home, taking care of her family and having a heart for the poor, she was quite a businesswoman too.
All these women loved God, seem to have kept a household, and worked. I’m not saying every woman should work outside the home. But what I am saying is that not all of us who desire to be married and have kids are called to be stay-at-home moms. And the pressure many of us feel from our churches, seminaries, or trusted blog sites tells us the opposite.
Maybe as a body of believers, we should leave the high calling to stay at home motherhood to God.