The issue of women and work is one of those sticky topics that few can navigate well, much less articulate skillfully to a broad audience. But Carolyn accomplishes that feat in The Measure of Success and provides a refreshing word for women who may be beat up or confused because of the “Mommy Wars.” She and her co-author, Nora Shank, didn’t write this book to add to that discussion, in fact, no matter where you land on the topic of working women, you’ll find their approach grace-filled and helpful.
In Carolyn’s words: “Nora and I cannot tell you how to run your life. We want you to know what’s happened in the past and what biblical issues surround and define productivity, but we don’t have a bunch of one-size-fits-all rules for you.” McCulley and Shank lay out the subject, approaching it thoughtfully and biblically, but presenting it very much with an open-hand of grace, encouraging the reader to tackle this issue by establishing a God-centered perspective on success.
“How then should we measure success? 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 spouses, friendships, children, time, talents, interests, opportunities, and tasks that fill our days and years . . . 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 . . .”
The only “one-size-fits-all rule offered in the book is: “Sit at His feet and not on your buried talents.”
The book covers this topic through three important divisions: “The Story of Work,” “The Theology of Work,” and “The Life Cycle of Work.” By presenting the reader with their personal stories (Carolyn is single and not a mom, Nora is married and a mom), the authors provide a welcoming context for a wide range of women. They move from their own experience with work, and provide a helpful and enlightening overview of the history of work as it relates to women and home-life.
Don’t think “boring” when you hear the phrase “history of work,” Carolyn is one of the most interesting authors you will read. She has the ability to captivate the reader’s attention with information on work that spans several hundred centuries, and convey it purposefully and concisely.
Carolyn addresses the modern myth that women “can have it all” and circles back to the important concept of “sequencing,” a term used in the 1980s that referred to establishing a work time line for women that would complement a woman’s life cycle. Those of us who encourage young moms to primarily devote their years of motherhood to child rearing, offer a similar idea: the concept of dividing a woman’s focus of work into appropriate realms for various seasons of her life.
My favorite portion of the book was the section that addressed the “Theology of Work.” Carolyn takes us back to the origin of work, “We are created to subdue, or rule over, the world so that our labors imitate our working, creative God . . . Work is how we imitate God.” Carolyn highlights the most important aspect of the whole working woman discussion: As women we must be applying our time, energy, and skills to our labors—through our true identity as followers of Christ.
“This is the identity we need to affirm among ourselves, not the labels that come with the kind of labor we do. As Christians, we are to be grounded in this identity, even as we add other roles and ways to express that identity in relationship to others.”
This truth provides the freedom that is needed for navigating this complex issue. Take that principle and honestly evaluate how Christ called you to live out your identity in Him, in your current season of life, with the responsibilities He has given, and you can safely process your choices for work and home life.
In the final section of the book you will find several practical chapters that are helpful for women who’ve never entered the workforce or who need to re-enter after a season at home. There is a great section that provides concepts for successful productivity that is aimed at young women who are launching into adulthood. You’ll also find creative suggestions for crafting a personalized vocation for the stay-at-home mom who may need to add to the household income.
Thank you, Carolyn, for writing this book. I know it involved intense labor for you, but the work you produced will serve women as a helpful tool in navigating this complicated discussion for generations to come. Your passion for honoring God’s Word and elevating the gospel comes through loud and clear!
Today we’re offering you the opportunity to win a gift copy of Carolyn’s new book, The Measure of Success. Leave a comment below letting us know that you’ve shared this link on your Facebook page or Twitter account and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a free copy.