Money is not just a man’s world. Today women control more and more of the world’s wealth. Making it. Spending it. Giving it.
Women now own 50 percent of the investment wealth in the United States and control over 80 percent of home purchasing decisions.* A 2010 study also reported that high net worth women give almost double the amount of high net worth men.
Some are wives, mothers, and professionals. Others are single, divorced or widowed. Many women with wealth have incredible callings, but feel alone or misunderstood. Their lives feel vastly different from their mothers or other women they know at church. But with four key things, I think any woman can thrive and make an incredible difference in this world.
It starts with vision. Vision answers the question: How does my life connect to something more than just… me? Why am I here and what is life about?
Our world tells women the pathway to happiness is found in a perfect house, fancy clothes, and delicious food. Comfort, beauty and pleasure are the gold medal we’re told every woman should run to win.
But God loves women and made them for a much bigger vision than that. Women were God’s grand finale at creation, his exclamation point at the end of a six-day sentence. Made in God’s image, women are called “very good” by the author of life himself. Their lives are meant for meaning, destined to drip with purpose.
Women are beautifully unique from men, yet equally invited to join God’s big story. God’s vision for women is to walk by faith and not sight, to live in light of eternity, and to give their lives away for God’s glory and others’ good. This is life, the true path to joy.
Jesus called twelve disciples, all of them men. But men weren’t the only ones who followed him and played key roles in his ministry. Two of his closest friends were Mary and Martha. And the three main financial supporters of Jesus’ ministry were women: Mary, Joanna, and Susanna. (Luke 8:1-3)
We must remember, when Jesus and his disciples laid down the carpenter’s tool belt, the fishermen’s nets and the tax collector’s bag, they still needed money. They had ministry expenses just like any ministry does today. Scripture tells us they put Judas in charge of the moneybag. (John 12:6) When the women saw the financial needs they didn’t make a one-time gift and then disappear. Instead, they courageously decided to follow Jesus and join the disciples on the adventure. They became partners in ministry.
Mary, Joanna, & Susanna are specifically named as members of Jesus’ traveling band of followers who kept the ministry budget in the black and served Jesus even through his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. These women were well known among the disciples as influencers. They played a very strategic role in Jesus’ gospel proclamation.
We see something similar in the ministry of the apostle Paul. He entrusted his most important theological letter to a wealthy and influential woman named Phoebe, who would hand-carry it to Rome on his behalf. In the letter, Paul names her before anyone else and then describes Phoebe as “a patron of many of myself as well.” (Romans 16:1-2, ESV)
Paul also partnered with a married couple, Priscilla and Aquila. They were tentmakers like him and equally committed to leveraging their business for God’s kingdom. Priscilla and Aquila turned out to be dynamite teammates who risked their lives for Paul, hosted churches in their homes in multiple cities and anchored the Christian community wherever they went. (Romans 16:3-4)
In modern history we find more generous women playing their part behind powerful movements of God, such as the first Great Awakening, a major missions movement to Africa, the most watched film in history, and the ministry of a preacher who helped our generation recapture a vision for the holiness of God.
The first key a woman needs is vision and the second is examples. Women need to see other women with similar gifts, in similar roles, finding their part to play in God’s kingdom. They need aspirational models of godly women.
Once a woman catches God’s vision for life and sees examples of who she might become, she still needs two more key things. The first is a clear process for growth in her calling. It takes time to clarify our calling and learn to use our gifts. In Scripture, Paul tells Timothy to practice using his gifts. “Immerse yourself in them,” he says, “so that all may see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:14-15)
One organization in America specifically focused on this is Women Doing Well. These women have pioneered a process of helping successful Christian women identify their bigger purpose and make a plan to pursue their passion (or perhaps more accurately, to pursue God’s passion). My wife and I know several of the leaders and are excited about what they’re doing.
Another option is called The Master's Program. They offer separate men’s and women’s groups that meet four times a year for three years. Each session is another step toward building your life on God’s principles and then pursuing your unique kingdom calling. My wife finished it; I’m in it now and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Whatever discipleship process a woman chooses, there is no shortcut to growth. You have to invest the time.
The final thing every woman needs in order to fulfill her calling is a community of like-minded people. Isolated people don’t grow. We all need friends going in the same direction.
When I read a book, I always flip to the back to read the acknowledgements section. I like to see who influenced the author and contributed to their work.
The book of Proverbs says:
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
Leaders rise and fall based on those around them. In order for a woman to thrive, she must pursue a few close spiritual friends who will run alongside her in the things of God. Friendship is not optional, it’s essential, the secret ingredient behind every great life.
Close To Home
This subject is not theory for me. My mother was the first one of her family to leave the small town for the big city where she began her business career. I grew up watching her read books on finance and being shuttled along to conferences where we heard motivational messages from top business leaders. Mom was always learning and pursuing greater success. She spent her peak years in leadership at the corporate headquarters of Starbucks Coffee before retiring.
On top of that, I’ve been married to a brilliant woman for sixteen years. In high school, she almost aced the SAT test. In college, she was awarded the Wall Street Journal Award among all business students at our university. By twenty-two she passed all four parts of the CPA exam in one sitting. For nine years she worked as an accountant before co-founding Gospel Patrons with me.
I have a deep appreciation for women gifted in strategy and leadership. As many of you rise to positions of influence and affluence, my prayer is that you would pursue vision, examples, process and community to help you fulfill the good works you are destined for. (Ephesians 2:10) You might be the next woman to spark a great revival, fund a world-changing leader, or come up with a paradigm shifting idea. The fields are white for harvest and Jesus invites women of all kinds to bear much fruit for his kingdom.
*Footnote: Directions in Women’s Giving 2012 by Amy L. Sherman