Perspective & Grace: Working Outside the Home


Reflections from The Afternoon of Life: Finding Purpose and Joy in Midlife by Elyse Fitzpatrick

When Tim and I got married, he was a realtor.  While he had a fairly flexible schedule, he worked on commission and didn’t have benefits.  My job provided us a steady income and the needed health insurance.  Our first son was born a year later, and our priorities changed.  Yet, we still needed insurance and the security of a weekly paycheck… so I returned to work.  Within two years, I had changed jobs, received an awesome promotion at work, and was expecting our second son.  Life was stressful, as I found myself trying to juggle it all.

By the time Tim accepted a position at Abbott about a year later, my career had moved from being a necessity to something more.  It was a stressful job, but I loved it.  I had always had an interest in the criminal justice system, and it seemed like everything fell into place.  I mean, I wouldn’t have this awesome, unlikely opportunity at age 24 if it wasn’t God’s will, right?  Yet God began to convict me through his Word that my priorities had become different from His purpose for me.  As a wife, it had become difficult to direct personnel and manage an office and not carry that mindset home.  And while I undoubtedly had more energy then, one still has only so much time in a day; and I realized not enough of mine was being spent investing in the lives of our children.  Yet, the thought of giving up what I had worked so hard for was agonizing.  So I began to pray that God would change my desires and make it clear that I should leave.  Also, while Tim made a decent salary, we would be cutting our income by more than half.  The doubts and worries added to my reservations, and yet God was doing a similar work in Tim’s heart.  As we looked to follow God’s direction, God provided a part-time job in the court system (along with an unexpected baby girl) that helped ease the transition to being home full-time.

After ten years at home teaching our children, with much prayer and Tim’s blessing, I returned to work part-time 4 years ago.  I will not detail all of the circumstances that led to that decision, but here are some things that God has taught me.

  • Submit to your husband.  Pray for unity; and remember that God will not call you to a job while your husband is saying “No.”
  • Be willing to give it up.  This is a good way to determine if your job has become an idol in your life.
  • Be realistic about the demands of the job & the time you have to give.  Different seasons in our life call for different responses.  Before children, maybe you have the time and energy to work full-time while maintaining your home.  Perhaps a part-time, flexible job (i.e. in-home child care or direct sales) is helpful to your husband, or maybe he thinks it’s best for you to be home full-time.  The key is not to decide for him, but listen to him and pray for wisdom and unity.
  • Remember, it’s not your first priority, (although it may try to creep there from time to time).  God, husband, children, home, ministries………job; realistically, do I even have time?
  • Remember you are his helper, not the other way around.  A schedule is key (and yet still my biggest challenge) to managing your home and responsibilities.

Remember, there is not one plan that fits every family.  Through your husband, God will direct you.


  1. Linda Cate says:

    Really, a struggle that we all wrestle with at one time or another. I think remembering our priorities and God-given responsibilities is key. Excellent, Godly advice, Sherri. Thanks for sharing the wisdom you’ve gleaned from your experiences.

  2. Our path were different and yet crossed. I remember being led to pray for you not knowing your struggles but knowing our God was working in your life. I doubt you realize what a witness you were to other women who confided in me. Some said, “Why?” others said, “What faith, I could never… ” but later did the same. Our God is truly faithful.

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