15 Questions for Success: Avril Speaks

15 Questions for Success: Avril Speaks

For the past few weeks, we have been working hard to bring you quality content on faith and work and plan to continue shedding light on people who are actually successful in making their work and faith collide in their respective industries. Each entrepreneur and professional that will be featured in our “15 Questions for Success” series will give us their road map to success and answer questions on how their faith plays out in their careers.

The second installment of the “15 Questions for Success” series features Avril Speaks, producer and director for BET. Check out what Avril has to say about faith and work below:

When people ask you what you do, how do you answer?

I usually say I am an independent filmmaker, or an independent film producer.

When you think of the word ‘successful’ who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

Ava Duvernay. She is someone who has defined success on her own terms. The movie “Selma” is not what made her successful. She owns and defines her own truth in which she was already successful. She had a unique voice within the film industry before that film and she continues to have one today.

 

What role does faith play when it comes to your career?

Faith plays a huge role because my relationship with God and my interest in film developed around the same time in life, so for me those two always go hand-in-hand. My faith inevitably shows up in my work somehow, even though it is often not in the way that many people would expect.

What does the first 60-90 minutes of your day look like?

It depends on the day. Some days I go to the gym early in the morning. Some days (when I think about it) I’ll read a passage of Scripture. Some days I jump right up and get in the shower. Sadly, other days I lay in bed and scroll through Facebook for an hour (I’m trying to break this habit).

How has knowing your personality type affected your life and how has it played a role in any life decision?

I’m an introvert so I’m not much of a schmoozer. But what that trait has taught me is how to seek out authentic relationships with people. So I’m not really one to “work a room,” but I’m pretty good at finding the one or two people in a crowd that I connect to and those people often end up being valuable parts of my life in some way. I’ve come to realize that my quietness allows me to be an observer, one who thinks thing through before acting out. When making decisions, I weight all the options, rather than jumping into anything too quickly.

What do you most love about what you do?

 Getting to collaborate with other creative people and seeing good stories come to life. I think that human stories and testimonies are powerful and any way I can be part of getting those stories told, it makes me happy.

What should someone ask themselves to determine their passion?

What is that something that makes you lose track of time? What is something that you love doing, even if you didn’t get paid for it?

How do you define success?

Success is having the freedom to do what you love. For some people, freedom comes financially (being able to make a living from doing something you love), for others it comes with time (making time in the schedule to do something you love).

What habits or skills are most important to living a successful life?

 Persistence in making space for those things that bring joy/success.

How do you maintain productivity throughout the day?

Making lists!!!

What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Trust yourself and the knowledge that you have. I spent so many years doubting that I know anything and that I have something valuable to say (I still struggle with this, actually).

What books would you recommend on career and business to someone just starting out?

Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment by Carole M. Kirschner and

Imagination and the Journey of Faith by Sandra M. Levy

What advice would you give someone interested in making a career change?

Capitalize your strengths. Just because you are changing careers doesn’t mean you have to throw away all of the skills you have acquired in your previous occupation. My hairstylist was an accountant before opening her own salon. She may have switched careers, but that business sense went a long way for her when starting her own business, which is how she has been able to sustain herself for so many years. Think of none of your years as wasted time. Every job you have done in the past was to prepare you for where you are right now or where you’re trying to go.

 

 

15 Questions for Success: Shawn Dove

15 Questions for Success: Shawn Dove

Have you been following our Faith and Work Series? The Urban Faith team understands the importance of connecting faith to your everyday life, particularly for young adults.

So, for the past few weeks, we have been working hard to bring you quality content on faith and work, and now we are going to turn our focus on some folks who are actually making that happen in their respective industries. Each entrepreneur and professional that will be featured in our “15 Questions for Success” series will give us their road map to success and answer questions on how their faith plays out in their careers.

Our first installment of 15 Questions for Success features Shawn Dove, CEO for the Campaign For Black Male Achievement. Shawn is a man of faith who is invested in creating a future where black males and their families can thrive. Check out what Shawn has to say below:

 

1. When people ask you what you do, how do you answer that?

I have all these things inside of me. A preacher. An ad exec. Writer. A motivational speaker. A salesperson. A coach and a mentor.

 

2. When you think of the word ‘successful’ who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

My mother. She was a single mom and she had to make sacrifices on her dreams and vision to raise me in environments and make me the man I am today. She embodies generosity, vision, and sacrifice. So that’s what comes to my mind.

 

3. What role does faith play when it comes to your career?

Faith is everything. I would not be…speaking to you. I would not be doing the work I’m doing if it wasn’t for God who carried me up to this point. Faith is essential because it can get discouraging. God gave you two hands. One to build with and one to fight with.

 

4. What does the first 60-90 minutes of your day look like?

If I’m lucky I wake up. I go downstairs and get coffee. I light some incense and pray. I read devotionals and stretch. I also have this men’s [phone call] I’m on. The Manhood Legacy call. Journaling is also part of my mission. I’ve been journaling since I was 14-15 years old and it helps me get my thoughts together. So that’s my morning from about 5:00-7:30 a.m.

I also have to put out my daily tweet. If I don’t do that then it’s like my world is not right.

“Arise and Shine! Glow & Go be a blessing to someone today. And when in doubt just ask God to let you be a light and to use you as He sees fit”

 

5. What are you really good at that people might not realize?

I would say helping people deliver “breech” dreams. Stuff that they’ve been trying to push out on their own but can’t push out on their own. I have twin boys and my son Cameron came out first but Caleb was born breech. He was coming out feet-first. 9 minutes later his vital signs were dropping. Doctors had to help pull him out. That’s what I do for people’s dreams

 

6. How has knowing who you are affected your life, and how has it played a role in major life decisions?

Well, by knowing what makes you tick helps you know what ticks you off. After I got into my 40’s and 50’s I became more comfortable with who I am and what my calling is. So there’s a certain level of peace and it’s all in divine order.

 

7. What do you most love about what you do?

I love my job. I love investing in other people’s dreams and helping to inspire leaders. I’m the CEO the Chief executive officer of CBMA but I love my role as the Chief Evangelical Officer. I love seeing people on the edge of the pool and I’m the kid who’s going to give you that nudge to push you into the deep end.

 

8. What should someone ask to determine their passion?

First, ask, “Why am I here?” The second is “What do I want my eulogy to say?” That will determine what direction they should go in.

 

9. How do you define success?

My eulogy will serve to be someone else’s life epilogue. And what I mean by that is the epilogue shows there’s more to the story than the last chapter. I want people to say they were ready to quit. Then they hear about how I lived and died and they are renewed. They don’t want to give up.

 

10. What habits or skills are most important to living a successful life?

Forgiveness. I have to forgive myself in the areas where I’ve failed. Having to resign from my first executive director’s position almost 30 and go into rehab I had to forgive myself for that because it was the most important thing I could have done in my life.

You also have to have empathy. That’s one thing I’ve learned being married and having children and leading an organization such as ours. Empathy is necessary.

Then I would say vision and a sense of completion, being open and teachable, and working with people and collaborating. [And finally, you must have] resiliency. You have to be able to bounce back from adversity.

 

11. If you instantly lost everything, what steps would you take to become successful again?

Well if it’s just my job or career, I would focus on everything else I have and not on what I lost. I still have my wife and my children. I still have my relationship with God. Then I would just start doing what got me here in the first place: writing, speaking, leading. I’m a servant leader so I would ask where can I serve.

 

12. How do you maintain productivity throughout the day?

Well, some days are more productive than others. I escape the office to have lunch to get reenergized. I also drink a green shake for energy in the mornings. And, a to-do list is must. I have a tendency to procrastinate so I make sure I knock things off my to-do list. Also, I make sure that it’s not about my productivity but the productivity of the team. Which means I have to delegate [tasks] and trust my team.

 

13. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Stop stalling on my calling and just jump in! Also, develop a sound financial plan and be maniacally disciplined with that plan.

14.What books would you recommend on career and business to someone just starting out?

I would say “Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice” by Dennis Kimbro, “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and John Ortberg’s book “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got To Get Out of the Boat.”

 

15.What advice would you give someone who’s just starting out or interested in making a career change?

Stop stalling on your calling and just jump. You have more resources and influence than you think. Get a piece of paper or journal and answer these questions:

What season am I in? What’s holding me back? What is God preparing me for? Who do I know that can help me? How did I navigate a season similar to this one?

 

Are you embracing the 4 C’s of financial literacy?

Are you embracing the 4 C’s of financial literacy?

A lot of people have heard of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. I was thinking the other day, the reason why people have a sense of belonging for a community or a city or an estate is because of the people who live there. The experiences and support they bring to that environment promotes a positive culture that draws everyone who lives there to feel as though they belong. They become protective and nurturing of their “village”.

That is the same way we should think about our finances. You do not get to financial stability and freedom by guesswork, feelings or emotions. It is an act of intentional commitment, discipline, education and accountability and it will involve you, and those you are willing to listen to.

I am a firm believer that money is a magnifying tool that reveals the intent and the character of your soul. Who you really are will always be revealed in the abundance of money or lack of it in your life. I have been around people who seemed humble and kind when they did not have money, until they reached a place of financial prosperity. All of a sudden, a sense of being rude and dismissive becomes appealing as though it is supposed to be fashionable. Pride becomes a regular smoothie partaken to make sure that you prove to everyone you made it.

On the other hand, having a lack of money can bring out the insecurities, fear, withdrawal and lack of confidence of embracing true purpose. I have also seen people sabotage great relationships, their integrity and character, because the struggle of not having enough turned them to desperation. They ended up doing things they wished they had not, or going back into situations they should not have, to get back to that place of financial comfort.

The reality is, having financial stability is a great feeling. Waking up each day with the amazing peace that you can pay every bill or anything you owe and have so much left over is a wonderful blessing to experience. However, the biggest mistake we make including myself is, camping in that place of wishing that could happen if we are not yet walking in that reality.

To embark on a journey to success regarding your finances, it has to begin with your outlook. What do you think of yourself regarding money? Proverbs 23:7 KJV states “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Your outward behavior and reaction including your relationship with money is a direct reflection of how you think about yourself.

To create an outlook that will push you and motivate you to a healthy relationship with your finances, including being vulnerable and honest with yourself, as to why you push yourself each day to financial success, practice the “4 C’s to a positive outlook on money” as given to me by Holy Spirit”:

1. Courage

Be willing to face yourself and examine the true motives of your heart. How do you view money? Is it dreadful? Are you stressed out every time its payday or do you have a heart of gratitude for Gods provision? Are you courageous to admit that a lack of money has created a void that you need God to fill? Are you willing to admit that you have used money to attain a status that will make people like you? You have to be courageous to face yourself on your outlook of money.

2. Commitment

You have to commit to change. Denial is not a choice. It is an invisible wall that you create in the circumference of your mind to convince you to cope with the assumption that everything is okay when it is not. Commit to have a positive outlook regarding money. This will give you a fresh perspective of the root cause of your behavior and relationship to money. If money is a tool that motivates you to live a purposeful life, it will be revealed and you will be encouraged to continue working hard. If it is not, you can pause and find out why and adjust your outlook to route you in the right path.

3. Confidence

Confidence is very connected with faith. God always tells you to believe the opposite of what you feel or see. Sometimes at your worst, when you are experiencing lack, God encourages you that “He is your Shepherd and you shall not want” Psalms 23: 1.

As a child of faith, you have to remember that God orchestrates each of our steps and as we live yielded to Him, He will guide us to wisdom, knowledge, education that will equip us to great stewardship. However, we have to first be confident in Him. I am learning that daily, God never gets tired of empowering us with confidence. Seek Him, ask Him, He is right there, and He is willing to release to you the measure of confidence you need to handle the financial obligations at hand.

4. Consistency

Consistency is what icing is to a cake, what syrup is to a pancake, what salt is to soup. Have you ever had soup with no salt? There is no taste to it. But you add a bit of salt and the flavors seem to be awakened as you drink it. It is the secret ingredient that so many of us miss. We start, but don’t finish. We set the budget, but don’t follow it. We open the savings account, but never deposit any money in it. I look at consistency as pacing yourself to savor the sweetness of life.

I love drinking tea. I specifically enjoy a nice cup of Kenyan brewed tea. It takes a special skill to brew a really good cup of Kenyan tea. To add up the flavors and make sure the taste of it is not bitter. The key is time. I consider myself a “master” at making tea especially for a large group of people but, it took me years and years of making tea everyday to learn. I could make tea in my sleep. Was it exciting? No! In fact, sometimes I dreaded it. But, when I see people close their eyes and smell the tea as they drink it with a smile and savor the taste, it brings me great joy!

It is the same way with consistency. You are not going to have butterflies and feel a sense of excitement truth be told you may get bored, not want to do it, dread it, but that is when you should do it. Be consistent in your commitment to be courageously confident about your outlook on money and watch how open you will be to learning how to be a wise steward of what God has blessed you with.

 

Faith and Work Series: Big Decision to Make? Asking “Why” Makes All the Difference

Faith and Work Series: Big Decision to Make? Asking “Why” Makes All the Difference

Many of us tend to do two things with our time: work and sleep. While finding a bunch of articles on sleep is just as exciting, the Urban Faith team will be shedding light on Faith and Work. So, for the next several weeks, we’ll be talking about careers, individual calling, entrepreneurship and all things related to connecting your God life with your job life. Be sure to check back regularly for the next Faith and Work Series feature.

 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. —James 1:5

“How do I know _______________ (fill in the blank),” is a question I often get when I speak around the country.

How do I know what God wants me to do?
How do I know what my calling is?
How do I get this job?
How do I get out of this job?

I also get a lot of questions that begin with “What”:

What should I do to get the job I want?
What should I study at school?
What does God want me to do in this circumstance?

You get the picture…

While these are all very important questions, I want to suggest that there is an even more important question we should all be asking first and it starts with “Why.”

Asking “Why” Makes All the Difference

Comedian Michael Jr. clearly illustrates the importance of getting to “Why” in this three-minute video clip.

 

The second version of “Amazing Grace” is radically different from the first one because it comes from a different place. It come from the heart, whereas the first version comes from the head. Although beautiful, the first version could have been sung by anyone.

The incredible second version could only have been sung by someone with the experience of the man in the audience because it tapped into something he knew deeply. What Michael Jr. is suggesting in his humorous segment is that the answer to the “Why” question comes from a very different place from the answers to “How” and “What” questions.

God Is the Ultimate “Why”

C.S. Lewis attaches godly purpose to our question of “Why”  in his Reflections on the Psalms:

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

Lewis’s answer to this short catechism question defines not only the reason for our very existence, but for the existence of the whole creation. In the opening pages of the Bible, we find the first hint of God’s original intent—the Why—for his creation.

God’s purpose in creation was that he would be glorified by everything he created. This is why God describes the finished creation on the sixth day of the creation story as “very good.” Just as a great painting reflects the glory of the master artist, the new-born creation perfectly reflects the glory of God. He created everything for His glory, including man, the crown jewel of creation.

When we reflect God’s glory, we are doing what we were created to do.

This idea is seen throughout scripture and is reconfirmed in the book of Revelation, where John writes the words of the twenty-four elders,

You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created (Rev. 4:11).

To glorify him in our lives is to align our Why with our What in such a way that we reflect him in everything we do. We live our lives based on his design and his desire, as faithful stewards in all things, mindful of his presence and guidance in each step of our journey.

This is why Paul can conclude in his letter to the Corinthians,

…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor.10:31).

Tim Keller brings all these ideas together in this passage from his book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering,

It fits to glorify God—it not only fits reality, because God is infinitely and supremely praiseworthy, but it fits us as nothing else does. All the beauty we have looked for in art or faces or places—and all the love we have looked for in the arms of other people—is only fully present in God himself. And so in every action by which we treat him as glorious as he is, whether through prayer, singing, trusting, obeying, or hoping, we are at once giving God his due and fulfilling our own design.

How do I know what God wants me to do? Start by asking “Why.”

 

This article is republished with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org). IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. Visit https://tifwe.org/subscribe to subscribe to the free IFWE Daily Blog.

What is this Stewardship Thing Really All About?

What is this Stewardship Thing Really All About?

In church, we often hear people make reference to “being a good steward over what God has given us.” But do we really know what that means?

Many would argue that the Bible talks more about money and stewardship than almost anything else. That suggests to us that what God has to say about money is pretty important.

Yes, there are more ways of practicing stewardship than ways that involve money, but money is what people struggle with most. Let’s address God’s posture toward our finances this particular article—we’ll save parts II and III on personal finance tips and church finances for another time.

First, many Christians have an incorrect biblical understanding about money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve simply mentioned money and a Christian said, “Don’t talk to me about money. You know the Bible says that money is the root of all evil!” Well… no, it doesn’t. First Timothy 6:10 says that “the LOVE of money is the root of all [kinds of] evil.” And that makes a big difference. Money itself isn’t evil. Money is necessary. It’s the love of money that makes people do evil things to acquire more money. Essentially, the Bible is warning us not to make money our idol or god. If Christians spend their time avoiding money conversations, how can we expect to acquire any money or manage the money we have well?

So how does the Bible say we should manage money? Luckily, Jesus gives us a parable (a short story that makes a point) about managing money! But it might not be quite what you realized when you heard it in Sunday School or heard it preached…

Matthew 25:14–30 and Luke 19:12–28 are parables about financial investment that Jesus tells to illustrate what the kingdom of God is like. Yes, you read that right. Jesus tells a story about stewardship and managing currency (fittingly called “talents,” making it translatable to non-monetary gifts as well) to illustrate what God’s rule is like. The stories have some minor differences, so I’ll stick with the more popular version in Matthew 25.

Briefly, the story goes like this: a man has three people that work for him. (We can call them servants or employees.) He leaves them five talents, two talents, and one talent, respectively, while he travels to another country. (A talent could be interpreted as a way of making money or money itself. For this, let’s just say a talent is worth $10,000.) When he comes back after a long time, the first employee now has ten talents ($100,000), the second has four talents ($40,000), and the last one gives his talent ($10,000) back to his employer. The employer rewards the two servants that made him money, but calls the other one wicked and “cast[s] the unprofitable servant into outer darkness” where it says there’ll be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30, KJV). Yeah… he sends the unprofitable “wicked” servant to (symbolic) hell.
Whoa! That’s what the kingdom of God is like? According to Jesus—yep. But let’s unpack what this story is trying to tell us. It’s not saying that if we don’t make money (for God or ourselves), we’re going to hell. It’s something much more subtle and fundamental. So here are the three reasons the employer (who presumably represents God in this parable) is upset and what God is trying to tell us.

1. “Talents” lose value over time unless you grow them.

One of the first things that any good finance class will teach you is the time value of money, which simply means that money today is worth more than the same amount in the future. For some, this concept can be hard to understand, but trust me, it’s true. Money today can be invested sooner and gain more interest, so it is always worth more if used. And that’s before we consider inflation. In telling the story, Jesus is pointing out that the talents/money/earning potential that the master gave the servants was a gift that the master expected to be used for his benefit. (Sound familiar?) Jesus is clearly indicating that humans are God’s servants and that He expects us to use our talents (monetary and non-monetary) to His benefit. (The text doesn’t say “after a long time” he “settled accounts with them” for no reason; it’s symbolic of our lifetimes (Matthew 25:19, NIV).)

2. The servant wastes the talent that the master gave him.

I did say it’s only worth more if used. That’s why the Lord was so upset—the servant didn’t use the talent he was given. That means he not only wasted the talent itself (because it is worth less now than it was when he gave it to him), but also wasted all of that time that he had the talent. Imagine how much that single talent could have grown and been enhanced, but by hiding it instead of using it, he robbed it of its value. Unfortunately, some of us are guilty of doing the same thing with God because, like the servant in the stories, we’re afraid of messing up with the talent we have. This story warns us that the way to really mess up is to hide our talents and money out of fear and not utilize them for God’s glory

3. The servant/employee doesn’t put in any effort.

The biggest tragedy of this parable is that it didn’t have to end up that way for the third servant. The master points out that even if he feared him, hiding his talent (i.e., putting his money under a mattress) was the worst thing he could’ve done with it. He says, “You could have at least put my money in the bank so that it could have gained interest!” (Credit unions are also a great option these days.) This suggestion serves to tell us that even a little growth is better than no growth. Yet for some reason, many Christians think that as long as we present God with what He gave us, we’ll be fine. Not so. If we don’t help grow God’s kingdom, even a little bit, then it is as if He had not given us any gifts or talents to begin with. Putting the money in the bank was something simple that did not take much effort; how often do we not put in the effort to speak with someone about God or to pay our tithes and give our offerings? When we don’t put in the effort required to grow what God has given us, we are being the wicked servant Jesus warned us about.

In conclusion, many Christians erroneously believe that if they had more money, they would do better with it. Others say that when they make more money, they’ll pay their tithes, yet when a raise comes, they simply spend more money and never tithe. Based on the Scripture, if we did a better job of managing the little that we had, not only would we have more as a result of our good stewardship, but God would bless us with more. This is what I believe Jesus means when He says, “For whoever has will be given more … Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 25:29, NIV). To God, if we don’t put forth the effort to grow a little, then we won’t have the “talent,” skill, or practice needed to manage something greater.

Four Tips to Encourage Single Christian Women in Their Work

Four Tips to Encourage Single Christian Women in Their Work

I’d like to honor the single Christian woman who is working late tonight instead of being taken out to dinner. (But, please keep reading even if that’s not you. If you’ve ever been disappointed with God, I hope this encourages you, too.)

The longing for family

A 38-year-old, single Christian friend of mine told me recently that she got a promotion. The only problem, she said, is that she’d rather be a stay-at-home mom, “packing school lunches.”

This isn’t someone who’s simply dreaming about the greener grass on the other side of the hill. This is a gal who has sought to steward her talents for God’s glory. She earned a graduate degree and is in a job leveraging her strengths and bringing about great flourishing around her—both in and outside of work.

But the natural longing for family of many Christian women like my friend is real—it’s God-given. This is why stewarding your vocation as a single Christian woman can be confusing. As you apply yourself and advance in your career, it can feel like you’re getting further away from marriage and family. I’ve heard women say:

I’m afraid that if I pursue my work with vigor that it will signal to God that I’m less interested in marriage and family;

or,

I’m afraid that my Ph.D. scares men away.

As someone who was in this demographic for many years, I wanted to share a few thoughts about what I have learned along the way.

1. Choose to be fully alive.

Christian singles, and others who similarly wait on God’s timing for something, have a choice to make. We can either keep our hearts alive to the Lord, or turn away from him and kill our desire.

It’s comforting that scripture recognizes the often-hard reality of life this side of heaven—that there is longing and disappointment:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Prov. 13:12).

What do women long for? While women do value significance and meaning in their work, they also long for intimacy in relationship.

Seeking intimacy with the Lord has sustained me in the “now, but not yet” aspect of life and God’s kingdom. The Bible instructs us to be honest and pour out our hearts to the Lord (Ps. 62:8). This way, we keep our heart alive and its longings close to the surface, though painful. As we open our hearts to God and his will, he can pour out his love and give us both a vision and a desire for what he is calling us to do today.

An additional benefit of choosing to be fully alive is that it has a ripple effect on our relationships, family, and even our work.

2. Be fully female.

God has made us uniquely male and female, in his image (Genesis 1:27). The fact that he has you in the office and not at home nurturing children right now is not a mistake. Not only are you designed with specific talents unique to you, your perspective as a woman adds richness to a work product that otherwise might only have a male perspective.

While women have different strengths, being fully feminine may mean letting an empathetic, nurturing side show through as you interact with colleagues and add your input to projects.

God has also designed many women, like him, to be strong protectors of the weak and vulnerable. Author Carolyn Custis James writes that the Hebrew word for “helper” (ezer), used to describe women in Genesis 2:18, can be defined as “strong helper,” even like a warrior. Without the work of women, our society would be a much different place.

3. Know God.

When years pass and longings go unfulfilled, some single women begin to lose enthusiasm about growing their skills on the job and lose faith in God’s loving character.

In Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, we learn how important it is to put our faith in who God really is. Many people learn from this parable we are to invest and grow our talents for God, not “bury” them. This is true. But few understand how it also teaches that trusting in the true character of God compels us to serve him well. The servant who buried his talent said,

”Master,’ he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground” (Matt. 25:24-25).

The wicked servant buried his talent because he didn’t trust in the character of God. If we serve a God of love, who gave his one and only son on our behalf, can’t we trust him with our hearts and our vocation?

4. Know Your Purpose.

When we have a transcendent, God-given purpose, everything looks different. I’ve seen single Christian women go from tears and slumping in their chairs to sitting up straight with hope in their eyes when they are reminded of their identity in Christ and their purpose. Each one of us, no matter our marital status, plays an active role through our work in God’s master plan of restoration through Jesus Christ.

This is where churches can do better in coming alongside single women, not just to comfort and encourage them as they live a single life, but to challenge them in their calling.

The topic of Christian singleness and vocation, like life’s most pressing and difficult questions, deserves a rich theology. Whether we’re packing lunches or sitting at an office computer, we owe it to ourselves to wrestle with the Lord and dig into scripture to reflect deeply and soundly about our vocations.

This article is republished with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org). IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. Visit https://tifwe.org/subscribe to subscribe to the free IFWE Daily Blog.