BOOKS | Gospel encouragement for women at work
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As our culture tries to explain away any possible difference between the sexes, Christians can call attention to how sex distinctions affect different areas of life. In Called To Cultivate: A Gospel Vision for Women and Work (Moody Publishers 2023), author Chelsea Patterson Sobolik addresses the struggles a woman can face at work while also painting a vision of how the gospel affects her work.
As Sobolik turns to Scripture to examine the foundation of a Christian’s relationship to work, much of her exhortation can apply to both sexes. She notes that the creation mandate, what she also refers to as a calling to cultivate, was given to both Adam and Eve. Chapters on “approaching our work as Christians” and “how we reflect God’s nature when we work” offer much for any Christian, male or female: “The gospel reminds us that we don’t need to hustle for approval or significance.”
Still, women face unique challenges with their work, and Sobolik’s goal was to write the book she wished she could have read when navigating her own work difficulties. She brings that personal style throughout the book, referring to her previous and current challenges without any hint of self-promotion. She mentions praying for readers while also, in one instance, encouraging readers to pray for other women facing a specific difficulty.
Called To Cultivate points to God’s care for women throughout Scripture and focuses on women’s experiences when discussing more general work topics, like leadership or negotiating salary or raises. Chapters explore dealing with difficult co-workers, impostor syndrome, and people-pleasing, as well as more serious barriers like sexual, racial, or age discrimination. Sobolik encourages women to help other women in the workplace, such as through mentorship. Each chapter ends with discussion questions, verses to meditate on, and suggested books for further reading—a helpful addition for readers who find this roughly 160-page book whets their appetite for more.
Some Christian circles have popularized the phrase that “a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and mother.” While Sobolik in no way downplays either role, at times including stay-at-home moms or their work in broader discussions of women at work, she reorients readers to a gospel-focused picture of women’s work. “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment are a woman’s highest calling,” she writes, reminding us that while aspects of our lives may change, these callings never will.
Sobolik defines “work” broadly to include volunteering and serving friends and family, though much of the book does lean toward addressing workplace concerns. And she cautions readers against allowing work to play too large a role: “When we rest, we are acknowledging that the burdens of this world don’t rest on our shoulders, they rest on His.”
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