In college, I started a small Etsy shop and blog from the storage closet in my sorority house. A few years later, and through a very non-linear journey, that small Etsy shop grew into an internationally recognized sweatshirt brand & that little blog led to bestselling books and a publishing career. Now, I'm obsessed about helping other women uncover what they're made to do and take steps to make it happen, too.
Every Wednesday, I send my insiders exclusive resources, ideas, and advice directly from me.
I know I’ve shared a lot more about business over the last year or so. And I’m often asked if I’m going to just neglect talking about faith, family, and relationships — the subjects a lot of my content focused on for years.
When I was first asked that question, I didn’t understand why I was being asked… I didn’t have any thought that small business somehow conflicted with those other subjects.
But the more I was asked, the more I realized so many people seem to have this underlying belief that it has to be either/or – either you’re a girl boss or you’re a good Christian wife/mom/etc.
And, if I’m honest, I think I began to subconsciously believe that for a bit, too.
I wrestled with it. At one point I was like, “God, why did you make me so ambitious? Why do I love marketing and business? Why can’t I just love ministry and be content with that?”
And it was almost like God winked back at me like… Don’t put me in a box. Business IS ministry.
I’ve spent hours on phone calls with women in my life who wrestle with the same lie.
One of my friends owns a social media marketing agency, and she loves Jesus, and she expressed the same experience! She told me, “I used to resent the fact that I was so good at social media. That marketing online came easy to me… it felt… I don’t know… unhumble? Is that a word?”
I chuckled. It’s totally a word. And it’s such a real struggle!
I’ve had more women than I can count reach out to me and say they are building this photography business or a blog or a t-shirt company or a marketing agency… but that they feel weird about making more than their husbands, or that they hate the idea of raising their prices, or that marketing themselves on social media feels prideful and very un-Christian of them.
Before I dive into my response to this struggle, or in other words, the 4 core lessons I’ve had to learn over the last year or so, I first want you to understand WHY I believe in small business for women:
One of the biggest reasons I’m a proponent of small business for women is because I think it’s SO incredible that our generation actually has the opportunity to create a job ON THE INTERNET that we can do without having to leave home…
I went to a biz conference a little over a year ago and there were tons of women in their 40’s and 50’s wanting to learn how to do this so they could have more flexibility to be with their middle school / high school age kids before they leave for college.
And I realized that 20 and 30 something women have the opportunity to set this kind of thing up for ourselves before we have kiddos or while they’re still so early on in their lives.
That said, I know it can be a tough balance. So I’ve included 4 lessons I’ve learned over the last year when it comes to being both a boss in my small business, a follower of Jesus, and a wife to my husband.
In other words, being successful as a creative does not make you a bad Christian. In fact, if I believe that it’s true – that I’m made in the image of God and was created to create – then my response to that reality should be to create as well as I possibly can – to do it with excellence and diligence.
Being successful in your career or creative business is not something to feel guilt over. It’s something to steward, and to use to bless your marriage and your family.
Far too many extremely talented and capable women hold their gifts and glorious contributions back from the world — and I think it’s time we change that.
… And that’s okay and good and admirable. Don’t hold yourself back and call it humility. If you’re simply not going for it because you don’t think you *should* … that’s often fear, or false humility.
I think where it gets dangerous is when our goals stop being important things and they start becoming ultimate things… when they are the altar we sacrifice all other values in our life for, that’s when something stops being a goal and starts becoming an idol.
As an achiever, I can struggle with this at times. But that doesn’t mean I have to shame myself for being ambitious.
It simply means I need some boundaries – to be able to look forward and pre-designate hustle seasons and slow seasons, to build some rhythms of rest into our weekly schedule, and to determine non-negotiables ahead of time (what I’ll say yes to and what I’ll say ‘no’ to).
The point is to keep your greater purpose in mind, no matter how much you love your work, by intentionally building your work around your life, not your life around your work.
Keeping even your biggest goals in their proper place will allow you to flourish as a business owner, as a wife, and in your overall life.
You’ll have days where you think you totally suck — either at business or at being a wife.
This is actually normal. Comes with the territory.
One key lesson I’ve had to learn is to not pull discouragement from one area of life into another.
For example, if I have an off day with writing or work, I begin to feel like a failure as a creative. While that’s a lie in and of itself, I also have to be careful not to let that feeling spill over into how I view myself as a Christian or as a wife to my husband.
On the flip side, if I feel like a failure as a wife, I have to be careful not to let that ruin my entire day of work. That’s muuuuch easier said than done, and some days I flat out fail at it. But I think the key here is having an awareness so that we can be a little bit more proactive when we inevitably come face to face with this.
A friend sent me a voice text the other day and asked what she should write about on her personal brand on social media. And I responded by asking her what she loved most or felt like she could talk about for hours.
She said, “I really love God and I also really love business.”
Then, she went on to tell me about how she gets so tripped up combining these things, though, because she knows she’s imperfect and won’t always hit a home run in business… and that she’s afraid to be open about her faith in business because of the fear that if she does mess up, she will somehow misrepresent God.
And I totally understood that tension. I think that pressure can be relevant in both marriage and business as a believer, too.
It’s almost as if when you’re open about your faith, people expect you to be flawless in business or in marriage. You know what I’m talking about don’t you? Those people who think you must just have a perfect marriage.
Or, those… let’s call them “sassy” people who criticize you because of a policy you have in place with your business like, “Well if you were really a christian, you would/wouldn’t do this or that…”
So, here’s what I responded:
“I relate to this on so many levels. It really is a battle. When people know you love God, and when you also create something of your own, there’s that fear of that if you ever mess up or make a bad decision, that’s a reflection of God or affirms people’s beliefs about Christians being hypocrites. But here’s what I realized a few months ago: There is no other way. There’s really no other way to do business as a believer than with God at the center so that HE can cover our imperfections, and ultimately, we are in the business of serving God.
So, I think I just try to keep that perspective that I’m probably going to rub people the wrong way, and there will be times others don’t understand… but I’ve just gotten to a season where I’ve had to accept the fact that it’s going to happen. That doesn’t make it easy when it does. That doesn’t mean I don’t need to vent or cry about it when it does – that’s part of being a human. But I think we actually misrepresent God more when we withhold that part of our identity in our business or work… it’s not to say we need to go beat people over the head with the Bible and be flashy about it… but openly sharing what influences the decisions we make and who we are and how we serve – even if we do that imperfectly and at least open to constantly being refined – that’s not misrepresenting God. I think that’s actually GLORIFYING God…
We are created to create – create a home, create a family, create goods and services to contribute to the flourishing of mankind… so all that to say, I get it. It’s a valid fear. But I think at the end of the day it’s a fear of man… it’s a fear that when I make mistakes or am not as strong as I should be, will people think that’s a representation of God? But if they do… we have to remember that’s the reality of being human. So as long as we’re as open and honest as we can be about the fact that we NEED God in our businesses BECAUSE we’re going to make mistakes, not because we’re somehow immune to making mistakes…
It means I need him all the more to cover and redeem those mistakes. Anyways, I just try to keep that perspective — it’s not easy. But hold onto those components of who you are because they are literally your gifting to the world.”
Long message, I know. But I listened back to it and wrote it down because although I said it, it’s something I need to be reminded of when I begin to feel that pressure to be the perfect leader or wife or creative or business owner simply because I’m open about the fact that I’m a Christian.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: the pressure to prove doesn’t come from God. It comes from the mean girl inside of you. And you get to decide how much weight that voice is gonna hold.
So, there you have it. Four lessons I’ve learned being a Creative Writer / Business Owner, a Christian, and a wife.
What do you think? Which lesson stood out or resonates with you most? Tell me in the comments below!