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Have you ever stopped and asked yourself how much you’re worth?
If you’ve ever been up for a promotion at work, or decided to go back to work after being away from the workforce for a while, the thought’s probably crossed your mind.
And depending on your upbringing and exposure to certain influences in your youth and young adulthood, you may be concerned with ascertaining equal compensation as your male colleagues. At face value, women do earn less than men. But there’s a lot more to the story, and it has to do with how you assign value. Hint: It’s so much more than money!
Friends, please take a moment to consider an alternate method of computing your worth! First define your yardstick, then measure yourself against it!
Your worth as a human being, as a professional, as a woman, as a daughter of the King, absolutely does not depend on your salary or your job title! In fact, we read in Proverbs 31 that the wife of noble character is worth far more than rubies!
Just as we get sidetracked by society’s view of our physical beauty and body image, it’s so easy to get confused into thinking that our financial standing is actually an indicator of our worth as a person.
There are so many (heated) arguments swirling around our society, calling for equal pay for men and women in the same positions. While I agree it’s absolutely fair for all individuals (men and women) to have commensurate professional opportunities and equally commensurate compensation offered to them, the truth of the matter is that our professional roles are often influenced by our roles at home as husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. If you happen to discover that you are earning less than an equally qualified (or less qualified) male employee, catch yourself before you automatically draw the erroneous conclusion that you’re worth less as a person.
Good news! Your worth as a person doesn’t have anything to do with your salary, your position at work, or your bank account! Your worth as a precious child of God and an eternal being is intrinsic, meaning it was God-given when you were created. Your most important quest in life should be seeking to live up to His purpose for you, to define the true values that bring meaning to your life and the lives of those around you.
In theory, you and your spouse may agree with this 100%, but it’s a little more challenging to put into practice.
It is entirely each of our prerogative to accept or pass over opportunities that present themselves to us at different points of our lives. Each of these decisions will affect the trajectory of the next opportunity, and so on. The consequences (positive or negative) should be prayerfully considered when making these decisions, but we shouldn’t be caught by surprise when we experience the outcomes.
As a woman, these opportunities may include:
- Being a wife
- Being a mother
- Being a wife of a (husband’s profession)
- Being a graduate
- Being a (position) at (company)
- Being a stay at home mom (SAHM)
- Being a homeschool mom
- Being a PTA coordinator
- Being a work at home mom (WAHM)
- Being an entrepreneur
- The list goes on and on!
You may choose to take advantage of some or all of these opportunities at different points in your life. (In fact, read about why I’m not trying to do it all here.) I’d highly encourage you to consider your ideal lifestyle with your husband before you jump into anything. The decisions you make now may (positively or negatively) impact your goals in the future! Be intentional and purposeful in the things you have control over, and be content with the things you do not!
Let me give you an example to consider:
(This is not my story, but rather a (hopefully!) relatable anecdote!)
Let’s pretend that a male and a female student graduated in the same year, with the same degree, from the same university, with the same grades and honors. Both were offered the same type of position with the same company in the same city. At this point in the game, we can all agree that both individuals should be offered the same compensation and benefits, right?
Now let’s pretend that both the male and the female students date their future spouses for one year, then get married and spend the same amount of money on the weddings. The two individuals choose similar housing options with similar debt structures. Both are still working their respective positions and both continue to earn equal salaries. Three years later, both families are thrilled to discover that they’re expecting their first bambinos! The male’s family determines that he will return to work after his paternity leave, while the female’s family decides that she will stay home with the baby until he starts kindergarten.
Five years pass. The male employee has worked diligently and earned 2 promotions at the same company. He now has a more prestigious title and a significantly higher salary then he started with. The female employee has also worked diligently and the baby is well-equipped to begin kindergarten…plus he has a baby sister. The female is satisfied and thriving with her role as SAHM and is ministering to her fellow playgroup moms as well.
Another 5 years pass. The male employee continues to thrive at the company and continues to “move up the ladder.” The female employee’s little one is now in school and she’s ready to re-enter the workforce. Her family determines that it makes sense for her to work part time, so she can still be active in the mom’s group and be available for the kids after school. She gets rehired at the same company she’d left 10 years prior.
Let’s stop here. If we were to calculate the hourly equivalent of the male employee’s salary, would it be equal to the hourly wages of our part-time, minus 10-years-experience, female employee? Absolutely not! And it would have nothing to do with the genders of the employees! I would even go so far as to argue that it would be grossly unfair for these two employees to be paid the same. That would completely undermine the concept of merit and tenure raises.
However. As the female employee works not only as mother, wife, and CEO of the household, her attention is also being given to her role as employee of the company. She is a hard worker and serves the company alongside her male colleagues. And she starts to feel a twinge of discontent. She knows she’s probably balancing more responsibilities and multitasking far more than her male counterparts…and she realizes she’s only being paid a fraction of their salary. She mulls over the injustice of the situation and may start to feel resentment for having been out of the game for so long. She wonders if she’ll ever catch up.
Ok, Friends. Stop. Right. Here.
Can you identify with this story thus far? Or has a friend of yours shared something similar with you?
Our female employee has fallen into a really common trap. It’s so common and prevalent in our culture that we don’t even recognize it! She has inadvertently begun to value her worth based on her compensation and status within her company.
Don’t blame her! It’s just what you do, right?
We start to compare ourselves to our co-workers, neighbors, and friends, and so easily forget our purpose. Oh, yeah. Our purpose. What’s that?
If I may venture a guess, I’d suppose that the female in our story made a conscious decision with her husband to start a family, and then to bring a second child into the world. They also decided for her to stay home during the children’s early years. And then they decided for her to go back to work part time to supplement the household budget, but for her to also be present and available for their kiddos. She may have also wanted to use some of her skills from college professionally.
So, basically, her purpose is to be an active and present wife and mother and to earn money to ease the financial burden at home. No where in her intentions appear the goal of rising to the top of the company or competing for raises with individuals (male or female) who have been in the workforce for a decade longer than she has.
Why, then, does she suddenly feel bad when she realizes she’s earning less than the male employee?
This is not a matter of feminism. The female employee’s husband could have just as easily been the stay at home dad for 10 years. He could have been facing the same type of frustration and confusion when he eventually returned to the workforce.
Friends, these are decisions we consciously make, based on values we hold dear. We really shouldn’t be surprised at the (positive or negative) consequences, especially when we were completely aware of them when we made the decision. We especially shouldn’t be concerned with the “success” our friends or neighbors are experiencing. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and we have no idea how their family dynamics play out.
The female in our story (and her husband) lovingly chose to dedicate a decade of her life to full time mothering and managing the household. She didn’t receive monetary compensation during that time, but I’ll bet she provided a priceless commodity to her family by her selfless service at home. Full-time homemaking is not for the faint at heart! She focused on those kids in a way no other person could. She meal-planned, shopped and prepared food to feed her family and to make her husband’s workday a little lighter. She was available to her fellow moms at a time when they needed support the most.
In short, she fulfilled her purpose during that phase of her life! Now that she’s back at work, she should feel encouraged that she’s helping financially without sacrificing her and her husband’s priorities and home life. She’s a success!
Friends, first define your yardstick, then measure yourself against it!
What should your measuring stick be? How do you know what or who to listen to? How can you avoid becoming sidetracked as you consider your career and family choices? If you’re a Christian, the answer is easy—seek to know the Word of God, the Bible, profoundly. This leads to an intimate relationship with your Creator, a relationship that is more than the label, “Christian,” but more of a constant narrative with the One who gave you your intrinsic worth. Do not listen to influences that are not congruent with your family and spiritual guidelines!
You are a hardworking, faithful, loving, beautiful child of God! You measure up! You are enough and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not!
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Matthew 16:26, 27
Gracia y paz,
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