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March 23, 2012

Comments

Natalie Cottrell

OK, I'm hooked. Haha. I can't wait to read this one. :) Based on the preface, the title of this post may not be a bad jumping off point for the book title. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey with us!

Anita

I look forward to your new book! So refreshing to read someone who calls a spade a spade: in other words, is brave enough to say a career is all about self. The most beautiful woman is the one who serves like Jesus did/does.

Mindy G

Carolyn, I'm so excited for this book!!!

Staci Eastin

May God bless your efforts!

S

hi Carolyn,
I'm excited about this project! Your Radical Womanhood book is one of the few books on women, written by a Christian woman, that I found useful. (NOT to bash other authors; I just haven't found much work by women to be that useful to me given my life situations and personality). My husband is finishing a seminary degree in Kentucky and we'll be moving to Michigan where I'm going to start a PhD program in a social science. Not typical of the women here or marriages here! Teachers like you who tease apart cultural rules and Biblical principles (we often confound the two) are very helpful to women who might not fit into the typical "biblical woman" mold (here, that looks like being a married, stay at home mom who homeschools multiple children). I can't wait to hear more! Thanks for your hard work in this area and for sharing your wisdom w/ others.

Abbie Perry

Carolyn,

I for one am thrilled that you are writing this book and I look forward to hearing more about it and reading it when it comes out. As a woman who strives to be biblical, and at the same time finds herself in a place where even with 2 small children at home, not working is not an option. I have to retain my job right now in order for us to eat. I struggle with it because I'd rather be with my kids all the time, but in God's plan this is where we are, and this is what needs to be done right now. I'm daily thankful for my job where I often get to have my kids with me, or work from home. It's makes it manageable for me. I know that my working is not a sin. In fact I think me staying home right now would be sinful and I'm confident that I'm doing what I can to be a Godly wife and mother... with all that said, work and life, and balancing my God given gifts using them for my family and others.... all of these things are things that I think about often and I greatly look forward to seeing you dig through the Scriptures thinking through them as well!

Kate

Curious: would you pose the same question to a man if he asked you if he should pursue a "career"? (My point is to ask whether you take issue with the term itself or with the gender seeking it).

courtney

Looking forward to this. I would love to see a section that talks about this topic for women who suffer with chronic health issues.

Carolyn McCulley

Thanks, everybody, for the encouragement and comments!

Courtney, I'm glad you reminded me about the chronic health issue perspective for I certainly have several friends who wrestle daily with this.

Kate, to answer your question, yes. But I am writing in shorthand, in a way, to draw readers deeper into the book. Men need to think about work and productivity, to be sure, but the "building my career" question is what I'm aimed at for either gender. Notice the emphasis on "my." I want to point people to seek the things Jesus wants us to be ambitious for, the rewards He promises us. That, of course, *can* be done through our daily tasks. The difference is just when we're seeking glory for ourselves or for Him.

Keep the good comments and feedback coming! I really appreciate it.

Bethany Grover

Very exciting, Carolyn! I think I will love this book! My favorite line from that exerpt was,

"Those roles are not our identities, either. They are opportunities to steward for the glory of God. Whatever God gives us in terms of relationships and opportunities, He wants multiplied for the sake of His kingdom."

Looking forward to all you have to say on the topic! I'm interested to hear how you deal with the different facets of the topic- sense of calling, going through seasons where that callings seems more on the front burner and more on the back, bringing God's kingdom to bear in the temperal world, balancing that with eternal priorities, balancing near priorities with those farther away (both in location and time), etc.

A book on a related but different topic you may (or may not) find helpful is Robert Clinton's Making of a Leader. It talks about the way God works in leaders' lives to make them fruitful.

Anyway, I will definitely be praying for you! Thanks for sharing!

Anon for today

Carolyn, I think this will be fabulous, and I can't wait to read it.

I have one random thought for you that you might want to explore in the book. I am seeing two trends in the church that I think are related and leave me confused. One is the Christian (often homeschooling but not always) SAHM mommy blogger. The second is the (often Christian but not always) SAHM who starts a photography business taking portraits of babies, kids, and families. What I see in both of these is an undercurrent of idolatry of kids and family, or perhaps idolatry of the "perfect" Christian family.

Yes, kids are a blessing from the Lord, absolutely, and parenting is great, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone who wants to connect online with other SAHMs or who wants to have a set of nice family photos.

But I wonder if these two trends are evidence that we are putting "the perfect Christian family with they stay at home mom and breadwinner dad and beautiful perfect kids" on a pedestal they were never meant to be on. And what does that say to a single woman who longs to have a family, or an infertile couple who longs to have kids, or a mom who has to work to feed the family? To me, since I fit into one of those categories, it says "you're second class, too bad you can't be perfect like us."

The prevalence of these trends reminds me of why I wince a little when I look at the Pottery Barn catalog -- because it reminds me that my house doesn't look like that! Maybe that's a little crass, but I find these trends to be similar. Sometimes it feels like folks are showing off their perfect family for the world to see like they came straight out of the Pottery Barn catalog. But more importantly, it makes me wonder if these women are developing their calling beyond their kids so they don't have a crisis of purpose when their kids leave home.

My mom was a great example of this. She was a SAHM, but when I, her youngest, was in middle school, she went back to grad school and trained for a new career, Christian Counseling. By the time I was in high school, she was working part time in a career that she knew God had called her to, and which gave her deep satisfaction. By watching that, I learned that like mom, I could reinvent myself and grow into new and challenging callings.

Thanks for exploring this... there are too many super fundamentalist and Reformed churches out there that are shackling women into one-size-fits all life scripts that I don't think are Biblical.

Lisa Walker

Wow! My first thought is this book is going to be so insightful into God's Word. I too struggle with issues of the idea of "pursuing a career" and am deeply in need of answers from God's word. I'll be picking up your first two books and reading them in anticipation of this one. May God bless you for helping women to see Him more clearly and know Him deeply.

Lisa

I'm really looking forward to this book! As a single woman who's been single for longer than she thought she'd be, I struggle with the world says should be my career trajectory - I'd love to read about a Biblical perspective on work in light of eternity.

Julie

Hey Caroyln, I've been following your blog now and then for a few years, and have often found your posts interesting. This book sounds interesting and I am excited to hear more about what you've researched and learned in the process of writing. I am in a stage of life where I didn't really expect or hope to be, really, as a Christian single, working professional woman going to work overseas. I find that many women in conservative Christian circles can't really relate to this stage I'm in -- I need to learn to accept that as part of my life, but it is neat to hear from people like you who are thinking Biblically and intellectually about my life.

Also...the post above from Anonymous about Pottery Barn/catalogue families strikes a chord with me, too, because I've noticed how we (myself included) try to portray our lives and beautiful and perfect to the internet world. Once I visited my friends (whose photos look like Martha Stewart's staff styled them) and realized that they plan their shots, and things look perfect because they set things up that way...not because their lives are perfect. Through social media we can portray our lives as being something much different than they really are, and have a hard time accepting other believers who are different than us (ie: who don't dress as stylishly, who don't blog in a trendy way, who don't homeschool, who aren't as conservative, who have a handicapped child...or whatever it might be). We need to find unity in the midst of our differences, not have cliques w/in the body of Christ. Just some further thoughts from her comment above...

Sarah

A topic that needs to be addressed in the church. As a married Christian woman with no kids I often battle with my career and what to do when children arrive. My career is by no means my identity, and I long for the day that I can focus on working at home! However if that isn't an option financially, will I be able to work outside of the home? With scripture as a guide, what does that look like? Can't wait for the read...

CalLadyQED

"[T]he modern concept of “career” is a selfish one. It’s ultimately about self-fulfillment and self-definition."
So men shouldn't pursue careers either.

Carolyn McCulley

This kind of conversation is why I am grateful to be able to "audition" my thought process to you all in advance of publication.

The confusion about cultivating a career in this intro will help me to build better bridges around that point. That's an introduction to a topic I will build out in further detail in later chapters. But your feedback here will help me revise even these introductory comments so that they are fleshed out better even in the intro. I need to better connect the idea that our work is a co-labor of love with a Creator God who gives good gifts to his creation, and asks us to participate in it with Him. For example, those who are farmers, bakers, and retailers participate in answering our prayers to receive our daily bread. We pray for what we need and God grants it to us, through the work of His creatures. So when both men and women see their vocations through this biblical lens, conversations about careers become less about maximizing status and income than about influence, excellence, and service to others.

Connie Z.

I really like how you frame work as being about investing in our gifts rather than a selfish career. I read this on my phone a couple days ago and its been rolling around in my head. I like this for so many reasons.

I can work hard and enjoy my career without pretending or getting caught up in it being the most important thing in my life.

I can invest in something that is short-term, or that I'm not sure how long it will last. I love my job, I teach high school art, and I have ambitions to do cool things in that career. But if I am able to stay home with a family in the future, I'm not so deeply invested that it would be hard to turn away from.

Further, this applies to vocation at home at the fleeting seasons of childhood. (did you hear we had a baby?) Investing in our children is short-term, too.

I also like the evolution of your book topics. It demonstrates a true investigation of what God is calling women to, by means of investigating God's word.

A few books that have influenced my thinking on some of these matters: Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey. God at Work by Gene Vieth. Grudem's explanation of business and innovation being good - I think from his business seminar.

Looking forward to learning from your labors! Thanks for writing this.

Bethany

I'm very interested in this book. I walked away from a prestigious and lucrative legal career when I learned I was pregnant. However, I have gone back to work part time here and there when we needed the extra income, but making significantly less in jobs that are far less prestigious. I hear what the other commentors are saying about SAHMs looking perfect on blogs and such, but I feel so much of the opposite pressure. Pressure to do something "important" (because mothering young children and caring for my home and husband aren't) and pressure to have a nicer lifestyle. We have two children and have lived in tiny apartments and had only one car for the first four years of our marriage because that's what it took for me to stay home with our children. Now we living in a cheap little house in the middle of nowhere with two used cars and no extra money. But we're making it. I could be making six figures and taking vacations, but my kids would be in daycare and with babysitters. I don't do that because the social science research is pretty clear about the damage done to young children who are not cared for by their parents most of the time. Even grandparents are not a substitute for a mom and a dad.
I hope your book will not obfuscate how so many families, even Christian ones, are messing up their young children so that they can "steward" the professional opportunities in front of them.
A single women, obviously, is in a different place. Or a married woman with no children. Or a woman whose children are school aged and don't need her as much.

Bethany

One more comment:
You mentioned how the "[t]he divide we created in the 19th century between work and home is an artificial one." I'm not sure what you mean by "artificial." The work of a SAHM does require productivity and financial management. Most of these women are the main purchasers in the home, responsible for feeding, clothing and caring for the family. There is no artificial divide there. So I wondered whether you were talking about the work/home divide that came about as the result of the industrial revolution. That divide doesn't have to exist, but it does regardless and it is very, very real. Most employment opportunities require the employee to work long hours from in a non-home environment. If both the mother and father have these sort of jobs, then no one is home taking care of the children and they must be shipped off to babysitters or daycare. That's just a fact of modern life.
Even for women who find employment that they can do from home, the work is usually computer based. Small children can be trained to nap or have room time, but these hours are often not enough to get work done, especially if there is a baby in the house. Thus, a work-from-home mother has to turn to working at night and on weekends. This cuts into the time she has building her marriage and often deprives her children of seeing their parents interact together as a couple. It also cuts into her ability to influence her church, her neighborhood and the larger civil society about her.

Linda

Hi Carolyn

What a great idea for a book. As a Christian single professional women who works full time in the secular work I look forward to reading it.

Some other Christian books on work that you might be interested in are: Thank God it's Monday by Michael Greene; Working without wilting by Jago Wynne; The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness by Tim Chester; God at Work by Ken Costa; Working in out: God, You and the Work you do by Ian Coffey; Get a life: Winning choices for working people by Paul Valler

Looking forward to joining you in your journey of producing the book through reading your posts and tweets on it.

Linda

Emma

Hi I would so LOVE to read this book. THe overwhelming impression I get from the blogosphere is that SAHM is the only biblical way (despite the fact that these women are blooging/earning by doing work at home which somehow doesn't count as work). I was single for years before I got married and so became a doctor, I figured I had to invest my life somewhere rather than sitting around on my behind waiting for God to bring me Mr Right. And it was a waste of my talents to not use what I had for God. Now I'm married and have a baby (age 39) and am having to reprioritise. Due to licensing restrictions I have the option to give up completely and probably never go back to work as a doctor again (it would cost too much to retrain) or go back to work and keep my licence to practice. I talked lots with christian friends and pastors and the only conclusion I have come to is that you can't serve 2 masters, so I'm going back the bare minimum( 1 and a half days a week) to keep my licence (throwing that away seems like a waste of God's good gifts) and seeing how that goes. If I'm wrong and even that is too much like a career in the bad sense- then what do we do with girls?
Do we bring them up to be SAHM and not bother with college (expensive) but then what do we do if they don't get married? Should we be encouraging girls into high powered vocations?

Emma

Oh on the books front I found Are women human by Dorothy L Sayers helpful. I refuse to believe that God would have had us work for so much of our lives if it were merely about earning funds for ministry or evangelising our colleagues I also found your books helpful!! And 2 talks given at the Fulwood conference by Dan Strange on creating christian culture. I can't find them online but I'll link to the church website as they should be able to get them for you. http://www.fulwoodchurch.co.uk/

Emma

Another thing I have noticed and been tempted to do myself is a tendency for single christian women to not persue careers (even in a good way) in order to promote their submissive/godly behaviour to the christian men and thereby be more marriagable. I was repeatedly told that the reason I was not married yet (at 25, 30, 35etc) was because I was too career minded (in a bad way) and that the christian man of my dreams would not want to marry a high-powered doctor. So it was assumed that I would hang around doing a dead end job and being bored in order to be more attractive. Thankfully I was able to ignore this advice and did throw myself into my job in order to serve God that way (and I did serve at church too) and the man of my dreams said it was my passion for serving God by serving my patients and the youth group which attracted him. He had never heard anything so foolish as the advice I had been given and feels it is wrong to encourage Christian women not to be ambitious for the gospel (in whatever way they are serving at work,home or church) Is the don't look too comptetent or high-flying view, a view you've come across?

Anon for today

Emma, I have definitely seen the "don't look too comptetent or high-flying" point of view being paraded in Christian circles. I wish the young men would be rebuked for assuming that women who have careers today will not make good wives and moms tomorrow.

And for what it's worth, I think it is great you aren't throwing away your medical license and are practicing 1.5 days a week -- good for you. As much as I think it is important to be with kids as much as possible when they are young, kids are also about a 10-20 year "season" in your life. In other words, at some point, they get self-sufficient enough that you can return to work at some level. And one might have 20-30 potential years to work after kids are self-sufficient!

Kids are not needy forever, and from a stewardship perspective, I think it could be short sighted for women to invest so many years of training, as you did, and just throw that away. My guess is you will be glad you kept your license when your kid(s) are older. That way you will at least have the option to increase your hours if you want to. Good luck to you!

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