When I worked in the corporate world, I was guaranteed breaks and an hour lunch. Since my office was in an upscale retirement community with a full dining room, an employee benefit was low-cost lunches. Not only was the food fantastic, but I enjoyed the lunchroom conversations with friends, as well as the impromptu afterwork gatherings. There was excitement as we worked towards the completion of a project or celebrated the accomplishment of meeting a goal. I worked for wonderful people and their praise and encouragement fed my self-esteem.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It was. I really loved my job. My life looks very different now. My work breaks involve starting a load of laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Lunch consists of a reheated leftover or sandwich. Although my husband works at home, most days we each grab our lunch and each head back to work. My afterwork impromptu gatherings with friends are nonexistent, and for the most part I alone pat myself on the back when I’ve completed a task.
Would I ever go back to work outside the home? Not unless God sent me a personalized memo and told me so. I absolutely love being home.
What I didn’t mention in my evaluation of being home includes snuggling on the couch with a child before he or she leaves for school; taking lunch to a child at school; volunteering to go on a field trip; having lunch with my mother; having dinner ready before the night’s activities take over; and, just as important, not leaving the house before 7:00 each morning to get everyone to babysitters. These are just a few of the many benefits I enjoy every day being home.
Like most ventures, it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons. Not that the cons should change your mind, but you’ll proceed with eyes wide open. I’ve listed some of my favorite reasons for working at home and some of the challenges I’ve faced. You’ll also find that chapter 16 deals with more emotional challenges of being home. May this information bring you encouragement and practical help if you experience similar issues.
The Positives of Working at Home
You’ll have a more flexible work schedule.
It’s a great feeling to get up early, grab a cup of coffee, and work for an hour before the kids get up. Even if it’s just checking emails, my day is jump-started with that small amount of time. The next few hours are filled with getting the high schooler off, then the junior high son to jazz band practice, and the younger three leave an hour after that. Once they are gone, the kitchen is picked up, a load of laundry started, and I’m back to “work.”
My husband, Tod, also works at home. Before he transitioned home, he left the house around 6:00 a.m., had an hour commute, worked all day, drove an hour home, and saw the kids for a few hours at night. That was when he was in town. Now, he still starts work around 6:00 a.m., but he tromps down the stairs to have cereal with someone, dashes over to school for lunch, and goes for a run or coaches baseball practice at 5:30 p.m.
While our days are full, the wonderful truth about working at home is we can schedule work around our lives, instead of our lives around our work. Because our work isn’t tied to a clock, we can work at odd times of the day. That means sick kids aren’t an inconvenience, school holidays aren’t a concern, and a neighbor who needs a ride due to a dead battery isn’t a major interruption.
You’ll have more time for ministry and missions work.
Another benefit of working at home is you increase your availability to be used by God for ministry and missions work.
In the fall of 2005, my husband and I adopted two little sisters, Cathrine and Ruth, from Liberia, Africa. This wonderful happening came at the end of a wild year, which included the launch of two home-based businesses, my husband’s transition home, and my first book contract.
As I consider that year, I’m convinced those happenings were connected with our more flexible schedules and our openness to be used by God in all areas of our lives.
Adoption is a long and laborious process. You hurry and fill out all the paperwork, then wait for months while it seems nothing is happening. Then, one day you receive a phone call announcing your daughters know they have been chosen for adoption and you can come get them in two weeks.
My husband and I stared mutely at each other and in 60 seconds decided that he would go. Those next two weeks were a whirlwind as we applied for Tod’s visa, he got a physical and the necessary shots, and I tried to finish the girls’ bedroom and guess at their clothing sizes. Two weeks later he flew to Africa and spent nine days there with the girls acquiring their American visas. My husband brought home two beautiful children, but left a piece of his heart in Africa. While there, God planted a vision in Tod to start a nonprofit organization to raise funds for the orphanage. Tod will return to help build those precious children a school. This is a personal passion because Cathrine and Ruth had never even held a pencil before they came to us, and had never set foot in a school.
This missions work is easier because Tod is an entrepreneur who works from home. I know this might scare some of you who fear God might send you to Africa someday. If God does, trust me, you’ll want to go. I tell you this story because when you offer your employment, your time, and your energy to God, prepare to be used. So many women and men who work from home find they are able to pursue more of God’s kingdom work in their neighborhood, city, state, country, and world.
What an exciting by-product of working at home! But perhaps it’s not a by-product after all. It’s very possible that God is calling you to work at home primarily because He’s got something else for you to do. Just consider it . . .
You’ll experience an exciting opportunity for personal growth.
After a recent rain, I noticed the standing water in a garbage can had begun to smell. The stagnant water proved to be a breeding ground for all sorts of unpleasant beasties who enjoy that mucky environment. That can needed a blast of clean hose water to rinse away the foulness.
Anything stagnant for too long needs to be freshened up, and that includes personal growth. Working from home can open doors of opportunities to expand your knowledge, experience, and develop your strengths and character. Instead of moving from one status quo to another, consider this as a time of intentional personal growth.
You can grow in many different areas. When my friend Lynda started working from home, she read books about being a successful entrepreneur. She learned theories that changed her thinking about money and investments. She embraced teachings on leadership and leveraging your assets. Lynda’s dedication to personal growth transformed her life and the lives of her daughters. Lynda continues to pursue growth and it shows in her success.
In an article entitled “Personal Growth,” in his enewsletter Leadership Wired, John C. Maxwell, one of the nation’s experts on leadership, says this: “I realized that to grow like I wanted, my personal development couldn’t be hit-and-miss. I needed to initiate and activate. I made a decision to devote myself to personal growth. I literally made personal growth my personal mission.”
In what area do you want to grow? Is it better time management? Organization? Do you want a broader knowledge of business practices? Marketing? Character development? Do you want deeper relationships? Leadership skills? Embrace this God-given chance and commit to growing in one or more areas.
Growth happens slowly and often unnoticed. It occurs in small increments and it can frustrate those of us who want it in big chunks and right now. When discouragement hits, remember the oak tree. Although the oak tree grows bit by bit and doesn’t produce acorns for at least 20 years, it is universally known as a strong and faithful tree. It’s a tree that can be counted on to survive the storms, support tree houses, and provide shade for generations. While our lifespan is substantially shorter than the oak’s, we can strive to mirror its solid growth and long-standing faithfulness.
Next week: The Challenges of Working at Home
Excerpted from: Work @ Home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home by Glynnis Whitwar (New Hope Publishers). (c) 2007 by Glynnis Whitwar. Used with permission of publisher. All rights reserved. Work @ Home is in bookstores everywhere or by calling customer service at 800.986.7301 or by ordering the book online.
Glynnis Whitwer, a founder of Transition Home, a Web-based and workship ministry is the senior editor for P31 Woman, the Proverbs 31 magazine, and a staff member for Proverbs 31 Ministries. A popular speaker for women's Bible studies, special events, and retreats, she has contributed to The Best of the Proverbs 31 Miinstry; Leading Women to the Heart of God, published by Focus on the Family; and Building an Effective Women's Ministry. She currently lives in Glendale, Arizona, with her husband, Tod, and their five children.