This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with Laura.
Laura: Hey guys!
Emily: Before we jump into today’s show, we want to encourage you to take a few minutes to leave us an iTunes review, if you’re willing. It’d be such a huge blessing to us. Laura and I read all of those, and it’s really encouraging to see the work God is doing. And it helps other people find our show! It just takes a couple of minutes, and if you need a tutorial, we’ll make sure it’s super easy for you to figure out how to do it on our show notes.
Laura: For today’s show, we’re talking about a really interesting topic. I think it’s one not discussed a ton, but every week, we get emails in our inbox or messages on Instagram and Facebook where women are processing career opportunities in motherhood. They’re asking, How do I know what decision to make? What do I weigh? How can I practically evaluate how costly this will be for my family, myself, and my children? There’s a lot to weigh in as we consider some career or work dreams we have as moms, because we have dependents and God has already called us there. So, how do these things mesh?
Emily: Right. And we certainly can’t answer all that in a show, but one of our heartbeats at R|M is to meet moms right where they’re at with the good news of Jesus Christ. We do think it applies to all these different things we’re facing. None of us have to have “arrived” yet in order to receive the good news and start to trust God, in faith, right where we’re at. So that’s one of our hopes for this show—we can get started but this isn’t an attempt to answer, Should I work outside of the home?
Laura: The age old Christian question!
Emily: Yes! Talk about that with your husband! But we want to meet the moms who are struggling with this question right where they’re at today. Before we go there, let’s stop to remember if you even have a choice, it’s a great thing that isn’t a given for every mom.
Laura: Yeah, it’s a huge privilege to have a chance to think about things like this and to say, Yes, no, maybe so. There are real hindrances to women being able to pursue their preferred career choice, or a secret dream they’ve had, or a small business they’ve wanted. Things like single motherhood, chronic health issues, care for a family member, aging, special needs, or even economic downturns. People lose their jobs, or there isn’t a lot of job opportunity in some communities or cultures. There are a lot of things outside of someone’s control that don’t allow them to even entertain the question we’re going to try to address today.
Emily: Right. Today, we’re talking about evaluating career decisions. Should I take on some more hours? Should I take on this special project? That’s something a lot of us have faced. I know for Laura and I, sometimes it’s a question of if we should take on extra writing opportunity, increase our hours, take a speaking gig, or add that extra arm to the R|M ministry we’ve been wanting to do. There are things that take real hours that come into our email inboxes that we have to struggle with week-in and week-out. What do we say to this stuff?
Laura: I think it applies to many of you whether or not you’re in a creative field like this. I know I have family members and friends who face things like picking up some extra shifts, like a nurse; or taking that other job opportunity that’s going to require a lot more travel. Even my husband faces stuff like that, especially when we were looking for new jobs and positions. There are also things like working on a special project where you might win a really great award if you put in the extra hours to do that. So, there are a lot of different things we face whether you’re full-time working or part-time working; maybe it’s even something like starting a business for the first time—MLMs, Etsy, Amazon. There are lots of opportunities to start your own business with a couple clicks of the button. You can be up and running! So, we’re all facing those things all the time. Should I be pursuing that or do I not?
Emily: The essential question is, What might be good for my career may possibly be detrimental to the family, church, Kingdom mission, or the community; or it might not be? Are there ways to evaluate that? So that’s where we’re stuck. Laura went through some great examples of things we face. I think there are a lot of online influencers, entrepreneurs, and even podcasts about philosophies around this. A lot of times they’re saying things like, Yeah, make the most of every opportunity you can, and do whatever it takes to say, ‘Yes,’ and make this happen. Nothing is really off-limits for you if you can just structure everything correctly.
Laura: I heard this radio ad just the other day, and I thought, Oh! This ties into the show we’re about to record! They said something like, Now you don’t have to make the choice between your professional life and your personal life. I thought, Really? There’s no way—
Emily: Somebody’s figured it out! [Laughter]
Laura: [Laughter] Every time you say yes to a professional opportunity, you’re saying no to something in your personal life. That has to happen! It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, but everything is a choice. So when I heard that ad, I thought, False! False! False! All my radars were going off, because these are real issues. Every yes, is a no.
Emily: I think other popular messages we hear are, You’re in control of your own life. That’s something. You’re in control. Just figure it out. Just pull the right strings, and you can arrange things rightly. Another one is, You have a right to your happiness, and no one should stop us from being happy. Ooh. We could do a whole show on that. [Laughter] Another one I remember hearing about as I grew up—even from my dad who worked in corporate America—was, At the end of every career opportunity, eventually there’s a magical life with the freedom and balance you’ve always wanted.
Laura: A magical life.
Emily: Yes! So you think if you keep taking these opportunities—because this is what you’re paying in—later, you don’t have to have all this stress. My dad would talk about people who did that for decades, and their lives were much worse off than when they started. You don’t realize it can be a trap if you’re not being strategic and thinking through those things. There are a lot of hard messages out there.
Laura: Today, we want to ask, How do we process these decisions? How do we know what to say yes or no to? How does motherhood play into that? Of course, we can start with the gospel, looking there to see what God’s word has to say. We know from the creation account that men and women were made to have purposeful work, to be fruitful and multiply, and to be stewards and caretakers of God’s creation. And that’s just in Genesis 1:28. We want to look a little bit closer at the Proverbs 31 woman, because she seems to be—oh, everyone likes to tee her up and say, Superwoman! Superwoman! [Laughter] So, we want to talk though and debunk that a little bit, and also see what principles we might learn from her.
Emily: She’s this archetype in scripture, in wisdom literature. So, if you’re not super familiar with Bible literacy, wisdom literature is a genre. It’s not something that’s supposed to be formulaic or prescriptive, but it paints pictures for us of principles about how we should live in light of God’s commands. In this passage, King Lemuel gives a nice picture of what an excellent wife might look like. In that, we get a snapshot of God’s design—a little bit like pre-fall—if everything was ideal. This would be kind of a sense of what an excellent wife might be like.
Laura: Right, we see things like she’s trustworthy, she does her husband and family good, she’s hard-working and sacrificial. She does all types of work with excellence; she’s like a real estate mogul, a seamstress, and doing all sorts of cool things. She’s working in and outside of the home. She’s generous, a good steward, and others-centered. She’s wise and kind. We could go on and on. Go read Proverbs 31 if you’re not familiar with this woman and see some of the character traits this queen is encouraging her son to look for in a wife.
Emily: Ultimately, we find the fulfillment of all of God’s design in Christ. He is the one who has to come to redeem creation. There’s no way any of us are going to model this or replicate it (and we’ll talk a little bit more about what the fall does). But basically, between what we see in Genesis in the creation account and the Old Testament and in this Proverbs 31 woman, we see God created us to worship him and care about the spread of Eden or the advance of the Kingdom. This means we’re going to steward our gifts, skills, and resources as we pass along the legacy of faith and love others in every role and responsibility we have—that means motherhood, any career we have, any ministry we have, our communities. It’s a holistic view of serving God with all he’s given us.
Laura: Unfortunately, because of the fall, we tend to get a very narrow viewpoint instead of the holistic one. We tend to look for personal identity in things outside of God. We might look for it in motherhood itself, in our husbands, in our job opportunities, or some kind of resume-builder and achievement. We do this by looking at what others around us are doing and working to make sure they think we’re cool or look really cool to them. We try to mold our lives to the world. We also tend to look at others and think, I want to look like her. She has it all or seems like it. What are those stepping stones I need to do to get there? That’s one area the fall has impacted our decision-making, especially when it comes to achievement, dreams, work, and things like that.
Emily: Another thing we struggle with in our sinful hearts is instead of looking at God and thinking about how we’re serving him, we’re often looking at ourselves and thinking about our own agendas and how we can build up our own kingdoms. We don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to consider others. Oh, I have to consider my husband? Or my children? What my church might need? What my community might need? What our local school might need? We just want to think about number one. And that’s all of us. I’m not picking on any one type of mom, I think we all don’t want to submit our ideas to God as fallen sinners.
Laura: Yeah. And I think another way we make decisions out of sin is we make them out of discontent. We feel this ache in our souls, and we believe it’s a sign we need to do something big or different when really, it’s an ache to find contentment in Christ. Sometimes we’re making decisions because we have fear, worry, and anxiety. When we make those decisions, we’re realize it didn’t feel so good. We thought it’d make us feel better, but really, we feel sad and sorry for ourselves. This discontent will never fulfill us; the only thing will fulfill us is Christ, which we’ll talk about in redemption. I think we can blame-shift in all of this, just like Adam and Eve did. We point fingers, saying this is someone else’s fault. I can’t do this right now, because I’m a mom, so I can’t pursue that. I can’t be a good mom, because I have this great career and need to keep pursuing that to do it well. We’re not making a decisions out of a place positioned on Christ and his work. Instead, we point the blame in other places and avoid taking responsibility for our own decisions and trusting God with them.
Emily: Luckily, although this point leaves us feeling a bit like downers, this is why God sent his Son, Jesus. We’re so messed up in how we approach everything. So, building off of that discontentment, in redemption, we see God is in control. We’re able to honor and follow him through Christ in whatever circumstance he’s given us. It’s not a matter of if our situation was different, we’d be different. Even when we feel like we have very few choices and opportunities, God can still lead us and shape us into Christlikeness. Again, to push back to the beginning of the show, let’s remember most people in the Bible and many people throughout the whole world today were or are in situations where they don’t have choices. Maybe they’re forced into slavery, overtaken by armies, living in poverty, and all kinds of things we see in scripture. This wasn’t the idea of, Just create the life you want! No, they literally couldn’t. But God made a way for them to hope and have faith in him, even when their circumstances were less than ideal.
Laura: Because Christ laid down his life for us, we can lay down ours. That means maybe we sacrifice some of our dreams, career opportunities, ability to climb the ladder, have our name published where we want it published, or whatever it is. It’s going to look different for every person, and, honestly, that’s going to be between you and the Lord. We’re all personally held accountable for those decisions we’re making, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we’re able to figure out a lot of those decisions in faith. It goes back to our personal conscience show we did a couple weeks ago. In a lot of these things, as long as we’re growing in holiness and living out the Great Commission, loving our neighbor, serving the Kingdom at home, in community, and at church, there’s freedom to make different decisions. We have to keep perspective: am I looking holistically at this picture or am I zeroing in on my own selfish desires?
Emily: Definitely. We want to spend some time getting into some practical ideas. Laura and I, as we said, face these decisions too. We know you guys are facing them. So, what do we do whenever we get an opportunity and we’re not sure if we should take this or not?
Laura: Yes, so the first thing to do is pray. Did you know we were going to say that? [Laughter] You can never do this for too often or too long. So please please please pray. We gotta say it.
Emily: We gotta say it. [Laughter]
Laura: It ain’t a good show if we don’t say it. [Laughter] The second one is consider your heart motives. This is a really, really good question we always want to encourage you to do, no matter what decision you’re making. The question to ask yourself is, Why do I really want to take this opportunity? Maybe it’s a promotion, a new job, a seasonal job, or special project or assignment at work. You need to ask yourself if there are any sin issues hidden beneath.
Emily: Yes, and there will be always. [Laughter]
Laura: Spoiler alert! [Laughter]
Emily: Right? I think it’s still an opportunity to recalibrate. Maybe you still make the same decision, but you’re able to do it submitting those and repenting those before God, asking him to help. I know for Laura and I, sometimes we take something because of fear. We think, If I don’t take this, this will never come around again.
Emily: So we have to pause, because we’re not trusting God, and take a deep breath, so we can evaluate it with a clearer focus. Another thing we want to consider is to tune our heart to the word and not the world. Instruments have standard tuning requirements, so they can play beautiful music. It’s very important they’re tuned against that, because if not, they’re playing ugly, out of tune music. I think a lot of us are taking in the things we hear and read, like influencers—or like we said at the beginning—ads and podcasts, and we don’t realize that’s what we’re tuned into. So when we go to make a decision, those are the messages we’re basing our decisions on versus re-calibrating and tuning our hearts toward the Word of God. As we do that more and more, it’ll influence how we make decisions.
Laura: Yeah. With that, you also have to count the costs. This is where every yes means a no. As Emily said, if your heart is tuned in with the Word of God, sometimes it feels very costly—the yes and no. Lately, I’ve been working hard at time-stamping—this is uber practical for you guys. But if I say yes to a writing opportunity, that’s four hours I’m not going to have with my children or volunteering at school and church. So, really evaluate by putting some numbers down as you consider an opportunity to see what you have to give up if you’re going to say yes. It can feel kind of like a bummer either way sometimes, but that’s where you’ll be able to think more clearly—when you’re able to understand the consequences.
Emily: Right. Another one, if you’re married, talk with your husband. Try to understand his true feelings. If you guys are on different pages, pray God would bring you together in unity and maybe change one of your hearts. I think this is one of those things where being proactive is so helpful. Get together and ask, What is our vision? How are our careers or service or ministry life fitting together so we can love God and serve him as a family? It’s really important to have those conversations.
Laura: Seek counsel from older, wiser women. We say this one often—
Emily: It’s so good!
Laura: It’s so good! Can you find a woman who’s worked in that type of position before and has been a mom? Can you find someone who had a similar career path? Maybe even just someone a step ahead of you. We don’t always have to find someone like a grandmother. Maybe it’s just a woman who’s very recently transitioned out of this. Ask them what they did or what they wished they did differently. And if they know you well, ask them to advise you on this decision.
Emily: Laura and I have been helped so many times—
Laura: So much! We would be nowhere without them.
Emily: Yes! Those who’ve been willing to share things related to what we’ve thought about doing. Here’s what you need to be careful of. Here’s what I wish I would’ve done differently. That’s so helpful. Another thing to keep in mind is—What do they call it?—the Rule of Grief in transition?
Laura: Yes, I’m terrible at this.
Emily: Basically, the Rule of Grief is if you’re going through something really hard—
Laura: And this could be like a move, a baby, a major surgery, a family illness, so a big event in your life.
Emily: Right. It may or may not be the best time to make really big decisions about things that will impact you for a long time. Let’s be real; there are hormones involved, maybe we’re tired, sometimes we’re feeling the itch and pain of being in a season we’re not happy with. For example, who’s had a baby and cut six inches off their hair? [Laughter] Me!
Laura: I’ve not done that! [Laughter]
Emily: Oh yeah, twice. And every time I have a baby, I have to think, Don’t do it!
Laura: She needs some change! [Laughter]
Emily: I’m like, Brad, don’t let me go cut my hair off! It’s just a joke, but it’s a great example of the fact there’s something in us that wants to do something different.
Laura: Craves change.
Emily: We have to be aware of that tendency, and be cautious as we’re making decisions.
Laura: And with that caution, start small. Again, we’re talking about women who have the luxury of making these decisions. That probably means you don’t have to go full-force. When Emily and I are making decisions, we’re taking it one-by-one. We’re not saying we’re going to do this gigantic thing, especially in this season of life and where we’ve come to with our husbands. We want to start small and build, trusting that process and knowing there will be an exit strategy for some of those things. It’s important to blend those two things, if you’re able to and if the opportunity allows it.
Emily: Yes, I love what you said about exit strategy. Because, yes, while we don’t want to say that to our potential employer—[Laughter]
Laura: So, what is my exit strategy? [Laughter]
Emily: Ha! But it’s good, behind the scenes, to talk to your husband or whoever is giving you counsel. Think, What am I going to do in six months or in a year if this is so crazy and having a negative impact on all the things we care about and value? What are we going to do then? It’s good to have those check-in points and to know we’re not trapped in it forever.
Laura: Yes. With that, remember your capacity. Support systems—they matter. And everyone has a different one, so be realistic about what you’re able to do. I’m terrible at this. I’m preaching to myself here. Remember just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean you even could do it if you wanted to.
Emily: Amen. [Laughter] I think we need to pause on that point: just because she can doesn’t mean I can or should. Keep re-evaluating and be open to change as God leads. If you look at this down the road and think you need to do something different, be willing to have open hands. We’re all evaluating different decisions in life. No matter where you’re at or how your days are made up, whatever you’re doing right now, you’re planting seeds for other seasons. For those of you who feel like your career goals aren’t being realized right now, God can continue to grow and cultivate you into the most important thing, which is Christlikeness. No matter your career goals, remember: have you counted the cost? Consider the little people in your home, and not just them, but the church, community, neighbors, and city that you live in. There are so many things and ways we can serve God and his Kingdom.
Laura: Yeah, we encourage you guys to consider these things deeply and to take every decision very, very seriously by putting it against the Word of God as you evaluate what you should be doing next. These are big choices and big decisions. We pray God will continue to give you the wisdom in navigating each one.
If you’d like to check out our show notes, head over to risenmotherhood.com. Of course you can follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Like we said at the beginning of the show, we’d love it if you head over to iTunes and left us a review. It takes, maybe, five minutes out of your day. Thanks again, guys, and have a great day!