Macy English is the VP of Sales & Marketing at SocialCentiv, an intent-based marketing company based in Dallas, TX. She serves at The Village Church with her husband JT, along with their son. You can connect with her on Twitter @macyenglish or Instagram @macyenglish.
A little over a year ago I received some of the best news of my life. I was going to be a mom. My husband and I rejoiced at the thought of bringing another life into this world. At the same time though, I wondered . . . what about my job?
As an executive at a tech company, I have a high-stress job that requires much of my mental, emotional, and physical capacities, and . . . I love it. I love my job.
But before pregnancy actually happened, I never thought that enduring passion for my work would be part of my response to starting a family.
Expecting What We Knew
I grew up in a God-fearing home and watched my mother model Christian discipleship as a homemaker and pastor’s wife. She used her passions to benefit our home and our lives as kids. She modeled what it looked like to be a pastor’s wife and for many years, I thought, that’s what I’m going to be. My [future] husband will be called to ministry and I will serve alongside him in the home and at church. Like many of us, the lens I developed to see my future through was based upon what I knew. I couldn’t wait to be a stay-at-home mom.
Even after college and marriage, I still assumed I would only be in the marketplace a few years, then we’d decide to grow our family and I would stay at home. But two graduate degrees and many long hours of work later, my husband and I were more passionate than ever about our vocations. As my pregnancy progressed, friends, family, co-workers, and even clients were asking the same question, what would happen when the baby is born?
Reframing Our Expectations
The discussion around whether mothers should or should not be working outside the home is admittedly a polarizing one. I’m sure you already have your own opinions, whether shaped by culture or the Bible. We must not shame or guilt anyone into believing one way or the other, but examine our presuppositions of work and what we believe it means to be faithful.
When believers in Christ think about “work” or “vocation,” what we are really talking about is what we each feel that God has called us to do. Here are some things that we can know about our work from God’s Word.
Our work matters to God.
One fact that is true about all humanity is that we are culture-making beings. We are called to be fruitful, to be faithful, and to be stewards of what God has entrusted to us (Jn 15:2, 1 Cor 4:2, Col 3:23). In many ways though, we often end up believing that work is just a means to an end. We see it as a means to a life we wish we could live all the time (i.e. vacation). Unfortunately, we think, we have to work, but Scripture tells us that work is a gift (Gen 1:26-31). Work is a gift from God himself to exercise and demonstrate the talents and skills he has given us – a means by which we get to participate in His work on the earth. So regardless of whether we are working in or outside of the home, the question to ask ourselves is: Am I being faithful in the work God has placed before me? Our work matters to our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, our cities and our cultures.
We all must work.
Since work is something God instituted at Creation, we can know that work is not optional but rather, something we must partake in. Contrary to what our culture might tell us, our work is not defined by whether we receive a W2 for daily labors. Our work is defined by what God has put before us to do. Whether that’s with a briefcase or a diaper bag in your hand, you can rejoice that He has given you work to do and seek to honor Him in it because He’s created you to do it!
In Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor, he encourages that "We are to work together to make the world a better place, to help each other, and so to find purpose for our lives. Our faith should enhance our work, and our work should develop our faith.”
It is a cyclical truth: our faith influences our work and our work develops our faith. Our beliefs and our works are intertwined and inseparable. When we start to compartmentalize areas of our lives into “at home” or “at work” or “at church” and so on, we begin to separate out what God means to be whole. We are culture makers, meant to work faithfully together to make this world a better place, no matter the task.
The great news is, because God has made you to work and prepared the work for you to do in advance, your work has worth and intrinsic value (Eph 2:10). If what you do contributes to human flourishing for God’s glory, then it has some place in God’s plan for this creation and the new one to come. And if you do that work diligently as a disciple of Jesus, then your life will bear fruit in ways you may never even be aware of. You are engaged in the mission of God’s people as a culture making being, bearing the image of God.
After 12 weeks of glorious (and delirious) maternity leave, I returned to my job. I worked out a solution with my boss to return in a way that my husband and I felt would be wise for our family. In this way, God has enabled me to be faithful and fruitful in the marketplace. So though my work may look different than other mothers, I believe I am serving God faithfully in it.
May this be our prayer: Dear God, we want to give our lives to things that extend beyond ourselves. Give us vision for people the way you see them. Help us to see the potential in our industry, our homes and families - the ways in which our work can contribute to human flourishing. Expand our vision and give us focus, even in times of great difficulty that we might join in the work of your Kingdom right here and now. Amen.