BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — A Women & Work Forum drew 170 women to hear author and teacher Jen Wilkin and Tami Heim, president and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance, after the June 11 session of the SBC annual meeting at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center.
“This is the kind of event I’d hoped to see for women,” Wilkin said. As a woman who was a stay-at-home mom for some time, then a church volunteer and eventually on staff at her church, Wilkin said she has developed some thoughts about women and work.
Wilkin drew from Genesis 1 in stating that God provided a framework for work in the Bible and that it is a mandate from Him. “Both men and women are created in the image of God and both are given dominion over the earth,” she said, noting that God called people to be fruitful, to multiply and be good stewards of the earth.
In the New Testament, Jesus charged both men and women with carrying out the Great Commission, Wilkin said. “We are not work-optional beings in the most literal sense. There is good work for us to do,” she said.
What matters, Wilkin said, is not one’s place of work but the heart behind the work being done.
“No work is undignified that is done as unto the Lord. What is going on in your heart?” she probed, stating that “what is going on in your heart can change without you changing your place of work.”
Heim recounted spending most of her life before Christ mapping out everything she was going to do, never wavering from wanting to work in fashion from the time she was 7 until college.
On the verge of her graduation, Heim surrendered her life to Christ. “My thinking was rearranged,” she said, “so that my thoughts were always on ‘Who can I talk to today and share what Jesus has done for me and my family?'”
Heim relayed three pieces of advice that she would have liked to tell her younger self.
First, she underscored a call to lead: “We do it every day — influencing the thinking and behavior of others.”
Next, there is a specific way God has called each person to lead based on one’s skills, presence and words. “Use what you have been given to honor and glorify Him,” Heim said. “Only you can give your presence and it is something powerful to give one’s presence,” she said. “Our words matter,” she continued, “so think about the things you say.”
Finally, she reminded that “today matters. What will you do faithfully today? You can make a choice to honor God and go in that direction or a choice that will distance you from what He has for you.”
The Women & Work Forum ended with a question-and-answer session led by founder Courtney L. Moore. Pulling from questions posted on social media, she asked Wilkin and Heim how they faced hurdles when trying to gain a seat at the table.
Wilkin answered that she “learned to walk into a room hoping to restore the vision of being a family of God and look to cultivate that with the men who are not her biological family.” Heim said that she has found that by honoring and respecting the men, they return the same honor and respect.
Women & Work will be releasing a podcast this coming fall as another resource to help women think biblically about their work. For more information visit womenwork.net.