As we have seen, God has called women to be “workers at home”, caregivers, stewards, guardians of the home. Is there any exceptions to this? Is there freedom to work outside the home or earn income from your home? As Carolyn Mahaney continues in her book, Feminine Appeal, “Since God orders our lives in seasons, there will be periods of time when pursuits outside the home will not compromise the quality of our work in the home (children are grown, before having children, etc), but whenever we contemplate these opportunities, we must first prayerfully consider the consequences they might have on our family. We must always evaluate our motives.”
Use these questions, provided by Carolyn, as you evaluate these opportunities. I would use these not just when considering outside work but as you evaluate opportunities to earn income from your home as well:
1. What are my reasons for considering this opportunity? Are they selfish or God-honoring?
2. Will pursuing this venture glorify God and honor the gospel?
3. Is this an undertaking that will help my husband?
4. Will it enhance and enrich the lives of my family?
5. Does this endeavor hinder my role as caretaker of my home?
Asking these questions will help us all make wise and discerning decisions. Always prayerfully discuss these questions with your husband.
There are definitely exceptions where a wife will need to work outside the home (i.e. husband is debilitated in some way, single mom, etc), but when you see Michelle F. (one of our panel) whose husband is a simple mailman raising eight children and staying at home, or my dear aunt Molly who has been a single mother for the last 10 years and has just been creative in small home business ideas so that she could stay at home with her five children, I believe it is truly possible! If you feel God is calling you to be at home to raise and nurture your children, God will provide! It is important to be in full agreement with your husband in these matters. If he is not on the same page, pray that God might soften his heart. Whatever the outcome, if your husband desires for you to work or not, God will honor your decision as you submit to your own husband (1 Peter 3:5-6).
This brings us to question #3…
3. What are your thoughts on earning income from home and do you have any creative ideas for doing so?
If you have discussed these matters with your husband and feel it is necessary to add a little income to the household, consider first and foremost things that you could do from your home, in order that your domain would not be neglected or left unguarded.
There are lots of simple ideas out their for earning an income from your home…
Evaluate your skills/gifting together with your husband. What do you love doing? What skills has God given you? Could you put that skill to good use in making a little income?
1. Day care within your home – You could include your children in the process of impacting another child’s life as well. This could be a wonderful ministry opportunity alongside your children.
2. Teaching lessons or skills – become a Bradley class instructor, music teacher, offering tutoring lessons, photography services, etc. I have been teaching four piano students on the side which provides a little extra resources. All of these ideas require little expense as long as you have the knowledge and basic skills.
3. Start a home business - my family (particularly my sister Christa) saw a need for modest clothing and began a small business from my family’s home. I know of several individuals who have become consultants with companies like Pampered Chef, Creative Memories, Mary Kay, etc. Through these companies you can sell their products, host little parties and earn income as a result.
Here are a few further thoughts from our panel…
Scarlett: My ideas for creatively earning an income while still managing my household are to make items like: aprons, jewelry and sell them on etsy. I also go through my home and see what we aren’t using and sell items on craigslist. Also, one way we have saved lots of money is to buy items at Goodwill or the Dig. Amazing clothes, dishes, quilts, coats, etc. at such amazing prices. I can’t believe the deals we have found and the money we have saved. I always thought I should buy new, but the clothes, etc. at Goodwill and the Dig are in great shape and sometimes barely worn or even new with tags on for $1-$5.
Michele: In her book, All The Way Home, Mary Pride speaks of the blessing in teaching her children how to run a home-based business, as part of their homeschooling. There are different degrees of self-employment, ranging from a full investment, to a “part-time hobby.” Is there something your family enjoys/excels in, that you could expand into a home-based business?
I know of a couple ladies who joined together and created a gift basket business. They often receive orders from churches and businesses to provide baskets for guests staying in hotels, or for holiday gifts. These women prepare all their baskets from home, and the children love to be involved!
Many women have also invested their time in sewing (such as quilts, baby gifts, etc.). Online avenues for selling your products are widely available (such as Artfire or Etsy). I know of some women who focus their efforts on selling at holiday craft bazaars, or specialize in seamstress work for wedding/formal wear.
I do have a little Etsy shop; at this point it isn’t much, but I enjoy involving my daughter at such a young age! She loves watching me sew (often pretending to sew next to me), helps package up orders, and goes to the post office with me. We even look on the map to see where the packages are going!
When my husband was a child, his family had chickens, and they were able to sell the eggs. A small chicken coop is actually legal in many cities (you don’t necessarily need a farm!). (Some regulations may prohibit the noisy roosters, though.) Check into your local Farmer’s Market options, too, where many families are able to sell homemade wares (such as soaps or sewing), herbs, or produce!
For clothing, we have often been blessed to receive hand-me-downs from friends, along with essentials from thrift stores. Also, learning how to mend is an essential skill, to save on buying new items! I tend to buy most children’s clothing basics in neutral colors (such as shirts, overalls, socks, pajamas, and snow gear), in case our next baby is a boy. (Our daughter always seems to end up with plenty of pink things and dresses through hand-me-downs, anyway, so I try to make wise purchases.)
I sold some outgrown baby items at a local consignment sale earlier this year, which provided some needed items for winter, also. I met some women who used the consignment sales as a source of income. They would purchase nice baby clothes from garage sales, and then resell them for a profit.
Michelle F: This question makes me a bit nervous because I think we first need to make certain that our husbands have asked us to do this. We always want to be sensitive and careful not to undermine our husbands! Always look to God first, your husband second, and God given gifts and talents thirdly. Always seek to please God and your husband and glorify God with your actions. Many businesses have been built by being generous. Giving away your time and talent with a heart of love, and then God gives back with financial gain. It is God who is our provider and it is He who gives and takes away. Look at what you need to do first within your own home – like you laundry, cooking, sewing, etc. and then you can consider incorporating doing these things for others in what you are already doing.
I know a Pastor’s wife who as her children have gotten older (this is key as you can not get back the foundational years). She takes a couple hours during the week and cuts hair within her home. What I love about this is that she does not do it to help her husband provide necessarily but rather she does it to bless others and in so doing she receives financial gifts. She works by donation only! God provides by moving the hearts of His people and what she makes she invests in the building of her home not to walk as equal to her husband. She is putting Christ first and not money, things, or the idea of providing for her household.
Marliss: There are plenty of scams out there, and it is necessary to be very cautious. I would say that craigslist is one of the last places to look for a work-from-home job because of all the scams. However, there are some decent websites where, although it is still wise to be cautious, scams are less likely. Here are a few:
Clark Howard has a radio show about finances, and has a page on his website devoted to legitimate work-from-home opportunities.
Independent Homeworkers Alliance has pretty much all legitimate work-from-home or telecommuting jobs from all over the country. Looking at the database is free, but there is a fee (as little as $9 for a month’s access) for getting the information necessary to apply to a posted job. I got two of the work-from-home jobs I have had on this website.
WAHM.com is where I found my current job as a grant research assistant. There are a bunch of worthless ads, but the telecommuting page is worth looking at.
In conclusion, I want to share my personal struggle. I often have to be on guard against pride and always be evaluating my motives in this pursuit of income earning. I struggle with the desire to earn an income to facilitate the purchase of things for myself, our home and my family, or just considering it “my” money. There is some desire to prove myself and want to demonstrate to my husband how I can earn income as well. As women, part of our curse was that we would want to rule over our husbands, and I believe the tendency will naturally come to want to compete somewhat with them in this income earning realm. Be on guard that it does not become an idol or source of contention in your marriage. God has designed your husband to be the primary provider. You are the helpmeet. Make sure you prayerfully evaluate your motives, and whether or not it will have a positive or harmful impact on your home life and family.
Stay tuned for part 4…