Women want to learn how to integrate their faith and work. Here are four theological truths pastors can teach to help women think about work.
By Courtney Moore
Everyone does it, but few are teaching about it. And especially not with women in mind.
With just a swipe of a screen, a multitude of sermons, books, podcasts, and Bible studies appear for the discipleship of the church on countless topics and Scripture, yet how few focus on work. Women are inundated with resources on issues such as motherhood, anxiety, or prayer, yet they are now increasingly searching for a more biblical vision regarding the work of their hands. With so many weekly hours spent doing work, this lack of teaching on the subject is interesting.
Pastors, women are eager to learn how their work integrates with their faith. What an opportunity you have to serve them. Here are four theological concepts you can teach that will help women think about their work.
1. Teach them that all women work
This may sound like a simplistic starting point, but the conversation surrounding women’s work in particular hasn’t always been as clear-cut as it has been for men. For most people, the definition of work usually includes the requirement of compensation. You go to work to earn a living wage. End of story.
Many women, however, don’t fit into this definition of work but are still active and contributing members of society. Whether through the provision of their husband’s work or other means, some are privileged with the choice of whether or not to engage in a paid job. Their work, though uncompensated, is no less worthy of being considered true work. When asked what they do, many stay-at-home mothers will answer, “I’m just a mom.” Yet every woman who has been in her shoes can testify to just how arduous her labor is. This is work.
Yes, all women work, provided they are not idle. In fact, all humans work. This was God’s design distinctly for image-bearers before the Fall (Genesis 1:28). In Genesis 2:2-3, we learn God Himself is a worker. And humans reflect Him as they labor for the good of society and the furtherance of human flourishing, in both paid and unpaid roles.“Humans reflect God as they labor for the good of society and the furtherance of human flourishing, in both paid and unpaid roles.” — @court_lm Click To Tweet
Pastors, give women an elevated vision of work and encourage them to see that the work of their hands, whether paid or unpaid, is true work as they do it unto Him (Colossians 3:23).
2. Teach them their work matters to the kingdom of God
Women who serve in various ministry roles (whether paid or volunteer) will have no problem believing their work is a valuable part of God’s purposes for the world. Obviously, spiritual work is meaningful to the kingdom of God– evangelism, discipleship, or leading a Bible study.
But what about the accountants in your church or the graphic designers, the teachers, or the journalists? What about those whose work feels mundane such as moms who change diapers all day or those who clean houses or hotel rooms only to do it all over again the next day? How does their work make a difference in the kingdom of God?
- Their work serves as a means through which they can obey the first and second greatest commands. For example, they love God by depending on Him as they work, and they love others by serving clients with excellence.
- Their work is a way they can image God in the world. Graphic designers reflect the creativity of their artistic, creative God while accountants mirror His orderliness, perfection, and infiniteness as they work with numbers.
- Their work is a way to grow in sanctification as they learn to deal with frustrations in an increasingly Christ-like manner.
- As they abide in Christ, they can model the fruits of the Spirit and speak the gospel to their coworkers.
These are just a few ways their work matters to the kingdom.
3. Teach them to rest in Christ and embrace the reality that they can’t do it all
Most women feel the unrealistic pressure to excel in all spheres of their lives. They hustle to work all day, then prepare a home-cooked dinner with fresh, organic vegetables from their own garden in their immaculate kitchen alongside their perfectly obedient children and adoring husband. This, in their size four, well-rested body before they head out to join their weekly women’s small group.“Instead of self-made achievement, exhort women to lean on and find rest in their strong God who daily bears their burdens.” — @court_lm Click To Tweet
Pastor, relieve their burden by reminding them they were never meant for striving. Free them up to embrace their God-given weaknesses, limitations, and finiteness. Instead of self-made achievement, exhort them to lean on and find rest in their strong God who daily bears their burdens (Psalm 68:19). Their achievement comes from His strength as they embrace their weakness and find His power (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). They can trust Him for all that is left undone.
4. Teach them to offer their work to God as worship
We live in a world that has created sharp distinctions between the sacred and the secular, but Scripture tells us that all things have been created by God and for God (Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:16). This includes our work, even if that work has typically been labeled as secular.
We also serve a God who is Immanuel, “God with us.” So, no matter where the feet of the women in your congregation step as they work, they can live and work by the strength God supplies and for His glory. Because His presence goes with them and because His praise is the ultimate goal, their work is now sacred. As the apostle Paul implores the Romans to offer their bodies to God as a living sacrifice, women can offer the work of their hands to Him as worship as they labor in His presence (Romans 12:1).
Pastors, what a great stewardship God has given you to provide a richer and deeper meaning to the work of women. May He use you to elevate their worth as they increasingly bring even their work life under the Lordship of Christ.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Courtney is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization Women & Work. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling. She and Brent parent their three kids in El Paso, Texas where Brent pastors. Her book, Women & Work, is now available for purchase.