Raised in a farming family in Oregon, I’ve never not worked. After getting my MBA and embarking on a career in commercial real estate, I continued to work while raising my two children. Now, I have the immense honor of leading 4word, a ministry for Christian women in the workplace.
Despite more moms working outside the home and the number of female primary breadwinners rising, many working moms still feel alone, isolated, and lack the community they need. This is a critical opportunity for the church to support women as they strive to raise godly children and serve God in the marketplace.
If you’re a working mom desperate to find her place at church, or the boss, colleague, or friend of a working mom, here are a few things I’ve learned that may help you, too. (While I’m primarily addressing women working outside the home, the principles can be applied to all moms—because all moms work!)
1. Define your priorities and learn how to say “no.”
Working moms face one of the steepest battles against a never-ending time crunch. If you feel like you have to be Wonder Woman to keep so many plates spinning (from the relentless demands of the workday to caring for your family, all the while carving out time to spend with God and be in community), you’re not alone. With endless demands and requests for your time, your most important skill will be learning when and how to say “no.”
This will look different in every season, so it’s important to frequently assess your long to-do list and take account of what has to stay (going to work, providing dinner for your family) and what can go (making Pinterest-worthy birthday cakes or homemade Sunday School snacks). Even with grown kids, I still have to clearly prioritize so I can be there for my children. My daughter has suffered from chronic, debilitating pain for over three years, and when God blessed us with an open door to the Mayo Clinic, I rescheduled every meeting for nearly two weeks to be by her side.
It’s hard to know what to say “no” to unless you have clearly defined priorities based on God’s calling for you. Saying “no” to worthy, God-honoring activities and opportunities to serve can be hard. If you want to keep your head above water as a working mom, admit that now is not the season to say “yes” to everything. Remember that God makes everything beautiful in his time!
2. Surround yourself with encouragement and watch your self-talk.
Working women represent one of the most isolated, overlooked segments of the church. That’s why it’s important to find a group of fellow working moms who know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. You may be blessed to have a support network for working moms at your church. However, if you’re like me, you may find yourself discouraged by many women’s Bible studies because it can feel like those who don’t juggle work and family don’t understand your challenges. I’m not advocating for “mommy wars” and pitting those who work against those who don’t; God has given each of us unique gifts and callings (Rom. 12:6, 1 Pet. 4:10) that come into play in different seasons of our lives. If your church doesn’t have a working women’s evening Bible study, maybe it’s time to start one!
Just as important is watching your own self-talk. Sometimes the greatest pressure to “do it all” comes not from outside, but from within. When I felt like a failure because I wasn’t meeting everyone’s expectations of me (especially those who didn’t truly matter), I told myself, “I just need to perform my role at work, take care of my husband and children as best I can, and stay in God’s word daily. There will be a season when I can get more involved in serving at church and in my community in a way that fits my strengths.” God is only asking you to be faithful with what you’ve been given today.
3. Kick guilt to the curb.
Because working moms constantly have to balance what we at 4word call “Work, Love, and Pray,” your confidence needs to come directly from God. If I did not go to God for my source of strength and confidence, even as I do the best I can, I would be racked with guilt.
Your emotional health is critical if you’re going to successfully juggle the responsibilities of working and raising your children. Put your phone down, stop comparing yourself to other moms you see on social media, and get into God’s word every day. I personally love the Bible in a Year study on The Bible App (YouVersion). Even if you can only squeeze a few minutes into your schedule to spend with God, that’s OK too. Do what you can, but make it a daily habit.
Remember, when our “delight is in the law of the Lord” so that we meditate on it “day and night,” we are “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, as its leaf does not wither” (Ps. 1:2-3).
Working moms, you are not alone. The path God has asked you to walk is not easy, but it is worthwhile. You are storing up treasure in heaven as you bring God’s kingdom to earth by working hard at your job and nurturing your family.
Editor’s note: Learn more about what the Bible says about calling and work in How Then Should We Work?