I was a single mom with a 7-year-old living in a small town in Iowa when the 2001 recession hit, and I was one of many who found myself jobless. As I looked for a new opportunity, what I found was not only a lack of openings, but many of the local businesses had to lay people off. My plan B was to launch a coaching business. I began with an idea to help local small businesses. What if we could bring business leaders together to brainstorm ways they could collaborate on innovative ideas for growth that could help them overcome the challenges? After presenting the idea to Ed, the mayor, we took steps to make that happen. But before we could get very far, I decided to move back to New York. Thirteen years later, I had occasion to visit that small town and ran into Ed in a coffee shop. He was delighted to inform me that they had run with my idea, and it had made a tremendous difference. Up until that day, I had forgotten all about it.
We may not always see the results of our ideas, our influence, and our work. We may even question whether we belong in a place of leadership and influence, and whether our voice can really make a difference. I certainly didn’t have any grand notion about being able to affect the kind of change needed to overcome such economic challenges. But we can always be assured that God sees our obedient action, and He works through the seeds we plant and through other people (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).
As the 140th Labor Day approaches (and Labor Day has come way too fast in my opinion!), it seems appropriate to pause and reflect on what we are celebrating.
*Labor Day was first celebrated in 1892 to recognize the work of those who were under appreciated. The Labor Hall of Honor was created to honor Americans who made distinctive contributions that enhance quality of life for all workers. Women in the Hall of Honor include:
Frances Perkins, who helped establish the U.S. Employment Service, was the first leader of the Department of Labor, and directed the formulation and enactment of the Social Security Act.
Mary Anderson, a champion for women in the workplace and the most influential of all women in federal service in her day.
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, a fearless and unstoppable champion for mine workers and children.
Helen Adams Keller, who aided the foundation of the American Civil Liberties Union and advocated for workers. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Rev. Addie Wyatt, the first African American woman to hold a senior office on an American labor union. She co-founded the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
These women exhibited great courage and selflessness in the interest of others, sometimes facing harsh consequences. Some of the benefits we enjoy today that women fought for include the 5-day, 40-hour work week, paid sick days and time off, and many other labor laws that have led to more equitable and fair workplaces.
Women have always been powerful change agents. God created women to work alongside men as counterparts, with specific strengths, gifts, talents and perspectives. Although our work and working relationships were certainly impacted by the Fall, Jesus came to redeem not only our souls, but our relationships, our work and women’s leadership in our workplaces.
Women, we make a difference with our voices … and whether we are acknowledged for our contribution or not, God is pleased when we steward our gifts for the good of others. Your reward will be great in Heaven (Matthew 5:11-12).
This Labor Day, let’s remember and celebrate that, not only do we need women in leadership, women belong in leadership and places of influence to achieve the greatest success.
Learn how you can advocate for greater belonging in the workplace. Grab your ticket to the BOLDLY Conference. Celebrate Labor Day and get 15% off the ticket price with the code LABORDAY15 from Sept 1st through 5th.