Today we are excited to feature part 1 of an interview with Joanna Meyer, founder of Women, Work & Calling, director of public engagement at the Denver Institute for Faith & Work, and author of the new book, Women, Work, & Calling: Step into Your Place in God’s World.
The book recently won the 2023 Readers’ Choice Award by Intervarsity Press in the category of Church Ministry and Leadership. We published an excerpt of Meyer’s book before it was released, and we are excited to catch up with her now to dive deeper into the ideas and impact of the book.
In your book, you address how women can have a redemptive impact through their work. What exactly is this redemptive impact and how can it be achieved?
Meyer: To understand redemptive impact, we have to step back and ask, “What is being redeemed?” Colossians 1:19-20 frames this conversation for us, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” God is reconciling the world to himself, so when Paul writes “all things”, he means ALL THINGS—any area of life that has been distorted by the effects of sin is an area for redemptive impact.
This is an invitation for any believer to engage the world through their daily work, but it’s especially powerful for women, whose roles have often been compartmentalized or divided into private and public spheres. Whether we spend our days in the corporate sector or volunteering at a local school, we can consider how God’s eternal attributes, like his goodness, beauty, or truth, can be amplified in that space. We also consider what is uniquely broken or strained in that setting. In the corporate sector, a woman working as a middle manager may revise annual review policies that stress her employees, while a volunteer may look for opportunities to support students who are underserved by the school’s existing systems.
Growing our redemptive impact starts with identifying our sphere of influence, the specific needs of that space, and the unique forms of power we have to become what author Amy Sherman describes as “agents of flourishing.”
You also describe the frequent workplace challenges that women face today. What are some of these unique challenges and how can women be better equipped to deal with them successfully?
Meyer: In the book, I address both internal and external challenges that working women face. Inner challenges highlight areas in which we need greater emotional and spiritual resilience and often touch on issues with our identity. When we learn to spot limiting beliefs or work through imposter syndrome, we can lead with a humble confidence rooted in God’s love for us. Externally, women need to understand the gender dynamics in their workplace and to recognize and grow their own leadership presence in that context.
One of the best ways to grow in both areas is to be in conversation with women who have navigated similar challenges. I often hear younger women say they are looking for mentors, which can be valuable relationships, but hard to find. The book explores ways any woman can build mutually beneficial relationships in which women support each other through networking, wisdom, and advocacy.
“Burnout” is a term we hear a lot more of these days, especially for women. What are some practical steps women can take to combat stress, get more rest, and create work-life balance?
Meyer: The pressures working women face are real, especially if they have caretaking responsibilities! Although “work-life balance” is an easy way to describe this tension, I avoid it because it pits work against life. For Christians of either gender, the broad call to live with Christ and for him in the world means that all our various roles and responsibilities are integrated and meaningful.
I won’t say it makes the daily juggle easier, but adopting an integrated perspective shifts the conversation to one of stewarding our time and talents as we hold these responsibilities in tension, rather than maintaining an elusive sense of “balance” that’s all too easy to lose.
Practically speaking, developing a rich Sabbath practice and managing the role social media plays in our lives are two steps we can take to find rest in our busy schedules.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Joanna Meyer next week.