At Work

Faith, Work, & Vocation – As A Single Woman

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I’d rather be packing school lunches.

A 38-year old, single, Christian friend of mine recently told me that she got a promotion. The only problem, she said, is that she’d rather be a stay-at-home mom, “packing school lunches.”

This isn’t someone who’s simply dreaming about the greener grass on the other side of the hill. This is a gal who has sought to steward her talents for God’s glory, no matter her marital situation. In her mid-30s, she earned a graduate degree and is now in a job leveraging her strengths and bringing about great flourishing around her – both in and outside of work.

But the natural longing for family within many Christian women like her is there – it’s God-given. This is why stewarding your vocation as a Christian, single woman can often be very confusing. As you apply yourself on the job and advance in your career, it can feel like you’re getting further and further away from marriage and family. I’ve heard women say:

  • “I’m afraid that if I pursue my work with vigor that it will signal to God that I’m less interested in marriage and family” or,
  • “I’m afraid that my Ph.D. scares men away.”

As someone within this Christian, single female demographic, I wanted to share a few thoughts for my Christian sisters (and their supportive friends) from what I’ve learned along the way.

1.       Choose to be fully alive.

In a sermon on Christian singleness, my pastor said Christian singles have a choice to make as we wait for what we hope.  We could either keep our hearts alive to the Lord, or turn away from him and subdue or “kill” our hearts.

It’s comforting that Scripture recognizes the sometimes hard reality of life this side of heaven – that there is longing and disappointment: “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Prov. 13:12).  What do women long for? While women do value significance and meaning in their work, they also long for relational intimacy.

Seeking intimacy with the Lord has sustained me in the “now, but not yet” aspect of life and God’s Kingdom. We are to be honest and pour out our hearts to the Lord (Ps. 62:8). This way we keep our heart alive and its longings close to the surface, though painful. As we open our hearts to God and his will, he can pour out his love and give us both a vision and a desire for what he is calling us to do today.

Choosing to be fully alive has a ripple effect on your relationships, family, and even your work. My friend who wants to make school lunches also happens to love what she does in the workplace. As she has kept her heart alive to God, he is using her in mighty ways and giving her satisfaction in her work, as she applies her talents and passions.

2.       Be fully female.

If you’re a single, Christian, working woman, you may feel like there’s not much that differentiates you from men. I’ve often put on one of those boring, unfeminine suits, jumped in the car, looked around and seen mostly men in cars around me, fighting their way to work.  I know what this feels like.

But God has made us uniquely male and female, in his image (Genesis 1:27).  The fact that he has you in the office and not at home nurturing children right now is not a mistake. Not only are you designed with specific talents and skills unique to you, your perspective as a woman adds value and richness to a work product that otherwise would only have a male perspective.

While women have different strengths, being fully feminine may mean letting your empathetic, nurturing side show through as you interact with colleagues and add your input to projects. God has also designed many women, like him, to be strong protectors of the weak and vulnerable.

Author Carolyn Custis James writes that the Hebrew word for “helper” (ezer), used to describe women in Genesis 2:18, can be defined as “strong helper,” even like a warrior. Without the work of women, our society would be a much different place.

3.       Know God.

When years pass and marriage still isn’t happening, some single women begin to lose enthusiasm about growing their skills on the job. They start to lose faith in God’s loving character. Jesus’ Parable of the Talents provides a poignant illustration that applies to those of us who have similarly struggled.

In this parable, we learn how important it is to put your faith in who God really is. Many people learn from this parable we are to invest and grow our talents for God, not “bury” them. This is true. But few understand how it also teaches that trusting in the true character of God compels us to serve him well. The servant who buried his talent said,

‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. (Matt. 25:24-25)

The wicked servant buried his talent because he didn’t trust in the character of God. If we serve a God of love, who gave his one and only son on our behalf, then can’t we trust him with our hearts in our vocation?

The topic of Christian singleness and vocation, like life’s most pressing and difficult questions, deserves a rich theology. Whether we’re packing lunches or sitting at an office computer, we owe it to ourselves to wrestle with the Lord and Scripture to think theologically deep and soundly about our vocations.

Question: How are Christian single women to faithfully wrestle with competing desires in their vocation? Leave your comments here

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  • Thank you! I’ve gone through a job change recently and have been rethinking my attitude toward work. I used to think it was a rather poor consolation prize for not having a family. But God’s view is much richer than that!

  • Robin S.

    Great, encouraging reminder, Kristin!

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  • Susie

    I am a successful single Christian woman. And with all my heart I wish that I had made different choices when I was younger. My success now scares most men off, and despite a wonderful church family – my situation is a lonely one. Men don’t see me – a woman – they see my title. Which I now resent. But it’s the world I live in. I only wish I had known this when I first set out with all the naive “whatever you want Lord – direct me” prayers in my heart. I would have made better decisions before I had so many letters before and after my name that would come to destroy any hopes of enjoying a family life and intimate relationship that I had always hoped for. Incidently I would give it all up tomorrow for the opportunity to do what really matters in life – having a family..

  • Dear Susie,

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart here. It must be painful to feel that way. Know that God is delighted in you as you given him your heart and sought to serve him with your time, energy and talents. And you have blessed others by using your gifts and talents in the workplace. But as you are reflecting back and looking toward the future, keep the innermost places of your heart open to him. I know that when life doesn’t shape up the way we expected it to, it is easy to question whether God really loves us. You are his precious daughter and his treasured possession (Deuteronomy 26:18). I pray he will shower you with love, comfort and joy in the days ahead.

  • sbrannon

    I stumbled onto this article using the search words, scripture, women, single, poverty. I find the article interesting and true in the fact that no matter where we are in our walk we should view/serve the Lord including our workplace. I also understand that the women represented here are successful women. I will answer your question from a different perspective. I am on the other side of the single women fence, I am older, raised my family and now single. wow. After my divorce, I obtained a double masters at 45 with prayer and a heart towards God. Yet, with our society being the way that it is, (ageism) I have yet to land that job in my calling and a sustainable one at that. (retail)

    I can be fully alive and know God yet I have found that economically, at least in my case, it takes two to survive. I am forced to work at poverty wages and take what hours are given to me..including Sunday’s…How does a Christian woman be happy and okay alone, when the economics stats show that more women live in poverty, and it takes two incomes to survive? I actually like being alone, but I am not surviving at it. To answer your question, well…I remain alone, but inside I hope that prince charming will pop along!

    • Dear sbrannon,

      Thanks for taking time to read the post and for sharing your heart and some of your story. It sounds like you have gifts and experience that are not fully being utilized where you are in your workplace. But yet, that’s where God has you right now and other doors aren’t opening. All the while, it’s difficult to make ends meet! That’s frustrating for sure.

      I pray that God draws you close to himself as he provides for all your needs – he promises to in his word. And through his Spirit, may he give you his peace and patience to wait on the unfolding of his plan. He is loving, faithful, and trustworthy.

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