By Danielle Ripley-Burgess
I’m one of the 7 in 10 moms in the labor force, and some days, I’m also part of the 60 percent who say balancing family and work life can be difficult.
This is especially true on days when my daughter jumps into the backseat of our SUV from the carpool lane and I wave at her signaling an apology because I’m still on a conference call that ran past our hard stop.
Being a working mom takes balance.
Although today’s culture has shifted and a high percentage of moms work outside of the home in some capacity, it can still be difficult to connect through church. As a working mom who loves the local church, I see a few things we can all do to foster community and build one another up.
Advanced planning and scheduling
I’m used to juggling meetings, feedings, deadlines, spelling words, travel schedules, sports practice, volunteering, and more. Knowing if I need to be somewhere in advance helps me plan our calendar around upcoming events.
This applies to the church, too. If a women’s retreat, discipleship group, or serve day is coming up, let us working moms know as far in advance as possible. The beauty of planning ahead means we can often arrange our schedules to be there.
Of course, things come up and they cannot always be pre-planned. But when possible, a schedule really helps.
Prayers for our workplace
It’s meaningful when church leaders invest in our lives, including our work lives. Working moms need the prayers of a church family. A lot of us are dealing with heavy issues—we’re in management and leadership, and we’re making important decisions that impact people’s lives.
We’re setting budgets, caring for patients, facing layoffs, and managing critical programs and campaigns. Plus, we’re aware that we set an example of Christ to our teams. We need to know our church family is praying for us as we carry God’s light into our careers.
Opportunities to serve with professional skills
We’re accountants, project managers, business owners, and writers. We run retail departments and teach classes. We’re great negotiators. We’re talented engineers. We’re in education, healthcare, government, nonprofit, sales and more.
It brings us joy when we unite with the body of Christ and serve others with our God-given skills. It’s a beautiful day when we’re invited and asked to use our skill sets not only in the workplace, but the local church, too.
Encouragement in our careers as a calling
I’ve rarely met a working mom who can’t relate to “working mom guilt” at some point. As nurturers, our hearts long to raise our kids in the way they should go. We take this biblical charge very seriously.
But many of us in the workplace are there either out of necessity or calling (or both). While parts of us struggle to leave our children during the day, God powerfully uses women who are alert to His leading and calling—even if that leads us into the workplace.
When my daughter was three, she came home reciting letters, colors, numbers, prayers, and books of the Bible. I immediately felt both proud of her, yet guilty for not being the one to teach her.
The guilt almost took over until the Lord reminded me that my gift is not in early childhood education—it’s in communications—and that my childcare provider’s gift is teaching little kids. I was then able to rejoice and celebrate that her gift was being used and poured into my daughter.
The change in perspective brought me the freedom to press into my workplace and embrace my calling there—because doing so enabled our child care provider to do the same.
Creative gatherings and meetings
Working moms can get very creative. Have you ever watched us come up with a last-minute gift for a birthday party? It’s a stroke of genius. This ability to be unconventional can benefit the church, especially when it comes to connecting with other believers.
To supplement traditional Bible studies and accountability groups, what if connecting looked like book clubs or prayer walks around the neighborhood?
What if we could log on for a ladies prayer meeting via Google Hangouts or Zoom instead of feeling the pressure to clean up the living room, bake muffins and host on Saturday morning?
This may look like apps and emails, or utilizing the message features within online church community builders. Social media is ripe with potential, too. The possibilities for connection are endless.
If you ask a working mom in the church, she can probably share a few ideas of what would work for her.
A variety of communication tools
As a working professional, I’m often electronically connected to the world. I check my email from both a computer and my phone regularly. I use social media and I text. I tithe via online bill pay, I’ve downloaded my church’s app, and my phone is set up to subscribe to podcasts.
The more the local church can put encouragement, messages, and updates into these places I’m already going to balance work and family, the more connected and engaged with the church I’ll be.
Avoid generalizations among moms
I realize I’ve referred to “working moms” a lot, grouping us all into one singular segment; however, even among moms, there’s a variety of life stages.
Entering the workplace with a baby and toddler is much different than parenting an elementary school and teenage child while maintaining a career. Moms with adult children and grandchildren also face unique needs, the way to reach and connect with each will vary.
We’re all unique. And at our core, we desire disciplers and leaders who will get to know and understand us. All of us working moms need the same things all brothers and sisters in the church do—encouragement to use our gifts, connection with others and belonging in the family of God.
Danielle is a Kansas City-based award-winning communications professional. She is a two-time colon cancer survivor and the author of Unexpected: 25 Advent Devotionals.