Like many women, I strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman and a courageous Christian. This can be difficult with the plethora of responsibilities placed upon women. One of the greatest stressors for Christian women who work in secular employment is the difficulty of balancing motherhood and professional duties. For women like me, add the role of pastor’s wife, and the responsibilities and duties can sometimes be overwhelming. I have learned that keeping proper priorities not only keeps me grounded but also keeps me living according to His plan.
A quick glance of the model Proverbs 31 woman shows a picture of one who is providing for her household (verse 15), caring for the poor (verse 20), watching over her house (verse 27), and refusing to eat the bread of idleness (verse 27). It can be tough trying to live up to this biblical model of a virtuous woman! Through the busyness of life, though, we can find delight in our lives by trusting God and His plan in every season, knowing He is working for our good.
In 2002, my husband accepted a full-time ministry role and we moved to Canada. I had just completed a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and the hours and training to become a certified public accountant (CPA) and was working for Dupont in Wilmington, Delaware. This move was a step of faith. I accepted employment as the auditor at the largest air force base in Canada. As we crossed the border on our move to Canada, I said to my husband, “I wasted all those years to obtain my CPA in the US and I will never be able to use it in Canada.” Little did I know that a few years later it would develop into a niche business preparing taxes for Americans living in Canada.
In addition to working for Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND), growing a tax business, and pastoring a church, we had four children. Makayla was born almost a year after moving to Canada. Our second child, Brooklyn, was born with severe special needs. She is blind and deaf and confined to a wheelchair. The early years of her life were spent in and out of doctors’ offices figuring out the severity of her condition, surgeries, physiotherapy, and the personal care she would require. These were some of the hardest years of my life.
After extensive prayer, my husband and I were determined that we would not pull back in our ministry efforts in reaction to the difficulties that having a special needs child created. God has been more than faithful and miraculously provided not only for her complete care but also has opened doors that other children in her condition cannot access. God has brought help, funding, and special people into our lives to provide the best care for our daughter. God has proven to be faithful through the journey of raising Brooklyn.
Since there were no genetic conditions in my husband or me, we decided to have a third child. Probably the happiest moment in my life was when our third child, Abigail, was born because she was healthy. We decided to have one more child. We were in disbelief when the ultrasound confirmed we were having a boy after having three girls.
As a working mother, I have always strived to make my children priority, while balancing my professional career. As I endeavor to uphold my children’s wellbeing and care as number one priority, the demands of secular employment can be a conflict.
Throughout the seventeen years, there have been times I worked part-time at DND to maintain our family and church needs as priorities. God has always honored my desire to put my family and ministry first, providing accommodation and flexibility in my secular employment. After our fourth child was born, I tried to juggle too much. When my maternity leave was ending, I didn’t think I could return to work. My boss offered a solution and agreed to allow me to work two days a week for several years, which was an absolute miracle because I manage the department. Now that my children are in school, I work part-time, run my tax business, and assist at the church.
As a Christian working in a country with secular and liberal views, it can be tough. Many times, I have been asked to explain and defend my lifestyle convictions. There have been times I have been ridiculed for not drinking and for the frequency of my church attendance, but the world needs confident and secure Christian women in the workplace. There have been many opportunities for me to minister to employees and represent my worldview to my coworkers. God has also used my position to open doors for other church members to work in government positions.
For every working Christian woman, know that when proper priorities are maintained, God will prove Himself faithful. He will provide for us when our purpose is “Kingdom first.” God uses every aspect of our lives to bring Him glory. Ministry happens not only in churches but also in cubicles, conference rooms, and corporate offices. God needs courageous Christian women in all of them!
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
Written by: Stephanie Stickler. She and husband, Shawn, pastor churches in Belleville and Trenton, Ontario, Canada. She works as an audit manager at Canada’s Department of National Defence and runs Stateside Tax Solutions. She is the mother of four children and loves to run outdoors.