There are a great number of young ladies who are in college, or who have just finished college, or are just beginning work-life, marriage, or children. They’re starting out. As a 56-year-old woman myself, (thirty years older than most of them!), I keep forgetting that they have grown up in the faith under a completely different paradigm than many other women of my age. They have seen years and even decades of forward-living women in the faith (most of them false) who claim that a woman can (only) make a difference in the name of Jesus if she is stamping out the global sex trade … or setting up social justice programs in Africa … or speaking to mega-audiences and selling buckets of popular studies and books … or being a global voice challenging pastors, men, and God for our seeming lack of impactful opportunities and therefore our alleged inability to make a difference. The world presents these female Christian lifestyles as normal. They’re not.
Of course there is nothing wrong with speaking to large audiences of women or writing books or helping the poor in Africa or giving aid to victims of the sex trade. The difficulty is that these attitudes and endeavors have become so endemic that many young women coming up think that unless you’re doing “A Big Thing,” then God isn’t pleased with your measly attempts for His name. Or, that you have no hope of making an impact for His name at all.
First of all, the women I linked to above are considered false teachers. Their stepping out into the world to stridently proclaim and stride and strut is not the Godly way of woman anyway.
God planted you where you are. If you are sensing a call to missions, then definitely follow that call after deliberation with elders and prayer. But for the vast majority of us women, our Christian lives will be solely contained in one geographic and unremarkable location, doing a menial-to-barely interesting job, perhaps marrying, and then perhaps having children. No globetrotting, sex-slave stamping, social justice righting, adoring audiences for us. We live obscure lives with little reach.
But wait. That’s not true. We might not have a great reach, but the Gospel goes out from every direction from every corner of the world, from women just like you and me. That Gospel turned the world upside down, and it still turns hearts upside down – and inside out. It still changes lives. It still makes a tremendous impact. Everywhere, even in Nowheresville.
Here are three examples:
“[I]n 1 Timothy 2:15, where Paul says, “[Women] shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with sobriety.” For most women, their greatest impact on society comes from raising godly children. If a women is godly and if God chooses to give her children whom she raises in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, she will have a profound influence on a new generation. Men may have the outward, overt leadership, but women have just as great an influence.”
Where would we be without Mrs Spurgeon, Charles’ mom. Monica, (actual spelling, Monnica) St Augustine’s mom- who prayed for her wayward son for years. Widow Anna Maria Moon raising 7 children on her own, Lottie’s mother. And so on! It’s not complicated. Raise the children.
What if you’re not a mother? Some women aren’t. Some women never become mothers. What then? Can we ladies make a difference for the Lord? Oh, yes!
John Bunyan wrote in his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
But, poor wretch as I was, I was all this while ignorant of Jesus Christ, and going about to establish my own righteousness; and had perished therein, had not God, in mercy, showed me more of my state of nature.
But upon a day, the good providence of God did cast me to Bedford, to work on my calling; and in one of the streets of that town, I came where there were three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun, and talking about the things of God. Being now willing to hear them discourse, I drew near to hear what they said, for I was now a brisk talker also myself in the matters of religion.
Now I may say, I heard, but I understood not; for they were far above, out of my reach, for their talk was about a new birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature; they talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil. Moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to each other by which they had been afflicted, and how they were borne up under his assaults. They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart, of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight, and abhor their own righteousness, as filthy and insufficient to do them any good.
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world…
At this I felt my own heart began to shake, as mistrusting my condition to be naught; for I saw that in all my thoughts about religion and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my mind, neither knew I the comfort of the Word and promise, nor the deceitfulness and treachery of my own wicked heart
Four women having a Godly conversation in a doorway … became part of the conversion story of the man who wrote the most lasting and beloved Christian work in history. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress has never been out of print. Think of what an influence that book has had on millions of people in the last 400 years! Never underestimate the impact a Gospel-driven public conversation can have. It’s not complicated. Talk about the biblical Jesus with love and passion.
But what if you’re not a wife, not a mother, and you work in a menial, out of the way job? Can you as a woman have an impact there? Yes! In 1-2 Thessalonians by Gregory K. Beale we read-
One well-known theologian recounts how the diligent work of a so-called ordinary office worker led to his conversion. An executive at a London corporation would often pass by an office where several typists worked before the computer era. The executive noted that one particular woman was more diligent in the way she typed, working faster and taking fewer breaks than the others. After a few weeks, he asked a friend at work why she was so unusually industrious. The friend responded, “Oh, that’s Mildred. She is a Christian.” The executive pondered this and after a few more weeks asked the typist herself why she worked in such an indefatigable manner. She responded, “I’m a Christian, and I serve Christ. I work heartily for Him, no merely for my human boss.” The conversation led to the executive investigating the faith further and eventually becoming a Christian. A few years later, he was speaking at his church about his conversation, and someone in the church became a Christian through his address. The person has now became a prominent theologian and enjoys talking about the typist as an illustration of the faith of Christians as it is expressed through “ordinary” work in every walk of life is vital for the witness of the Gospel”
There is nothing too menial. Is what you’re doing more menial than Christ leaving glory as King and living and working as an obscure carpenter for thirty years? Is what you’re doing (or me) more menial than Jesus washing the disciples’ feet? Paul was a brilliant, learned, famous lawyer, but post conversion he was an itinerant tentmaker. Our ordinary, menial, mundane work can be a glorious witness of the Gospel when it’s joyfully and properly expressed through whatever work we have been called to do. It’s not complicated. Work hard and display a strong ethic.
We work for a human boss, but ultimately we labor for Jesus. Therefore as is said in the Traeger and Gilbert book The Gospel at Work, one of the key themes of The Gospel at Work is that “who you work for is more important than what you do.”
Ladies, you can make Jesus’ name known in whatever sphere you dwell and whatever stage of life you’re in. Our work ethic and our Godly conversations will be noticed. In heaven we might be surprised at all the things we said and did that we didn’t know influenced some person who saw the Christ-likeness in us. No sphere is too small and no job is too menial. You can make a difference.
Laveuses sur la rivière (Washerwomen on the river) is an early Lumière brother film produced in 1897. This film depicts women washing clothing along the riverbank.