Q: Your book, The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Biblical Perspective On Women, Work and the Home, is about work, success, and family life as a woman. And you’re not afraid to say that, “Yes, women should work.” But tell us what you mean by that.
A: Should women work? Absolutely! Women should work and work hard every day. As Christ-following women, the Bible calls us to work for the glory of God. But the location of where we work is neither the definition nor the measure of our success. I think it’s no surprise that far more verses in the Proverbs 31 portrait of a successful woman are about productivity and financial management than relationships. In the biblical narrative, work is a co-labor of love, tasks done in partnership with a gracious God who uses our labors to bless others. In response to criticism that He healed a sick man on the Sabbath, Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17 ESV). His work was to glorify His Father and help others. Ours is the same.
Q: So you wrote this book as a way to offer some perspective…
A: Absolutely. I am passionate about calling out “facts” that don’t line up with the grace, mercy, and freedom offered to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ— especially for those who have never heard that good news! That’s why I wanted to write this book: to help women in all stages of life think clearly about the God-given gifts and opportunities they have, and how to invest those individual and specific situations in light of eternity. What we really need to know is the purpose of work or how to think about the multiple facets of productivity that make women’s work different from men’s. This isn’t a new idea. What we really need are timeless wisdom principles straight from Scripture.
Q: How then should we measure success?
A: We should think as recipients who will one day give an account for how we managed what we were given. We are stewards of all that we have received, including our relationships. It is God who gives us the relationships, children, time, talents, interests, opportunities, and tasks that fill our days and years. We may be wives or mothers, but as important as these are, they are roles that end in this life. We continue on into eternity as children of God and sisters to those who have been rescued by Christ. We may work in highly esteemed professions or we may not be paid for our daily labors. Those roles are not our identities, either. They are merely opportunities to be invested for the glory of God. Those things God gives us in terms of relationships and opportunities, He wants multiplied for the sake of His kingdom. That’s the true measure of success.
Q: You encourage us by saying that God gives us the grace we need to transform our daily work right now.
A: Yes. Most days, this is what we need to remember. How does He do this? God transforms our work by first transforming us. This is the effect of the gospel on our work: God gives us hope that He can take our less-than-perfect attitude about work and sanctifies it, all because we are united with Christ. He takes what we have (which isn’t much) into His perfection, giving it all the qualities we don’t possess. Knowing this helps us to avoid segregating work into secular and sacred categories—for to God, all work is a sacred calling. It’s important to remember that God is working through you even in the most mundane tasks. The antidote to this feeling of meaningless is remembering that our Creator has given dignity to our work.
I would love to know your thoughts on these topics and what success looks like!