Market Place calling as a Christian Woman
Many Christians seem to operate on the everyday assumption that God is not or at least that he is not interested in the marketplace for its own sake, as distinct from an interest in the marketplace as a context for evangelism. God, it would seem, cares about the church and its affairs, about getting people to heaven, but not about how society and its public places are conducted on earth. The result can be a rather dichotomized Christian life in which
we invest most of our time that matters (our working lives) in a place and a task that we think does not really matter much to God, while struggling to find opportunities to give some leftover time to the only thing we think does matter to God: evangelism. Yet the Bible speaks comprehensively about the human marketplace. The Old Testament word was “the gate,” the public square where people met and did their business together. And there is a clear sense that God is intensely interested in this world of human social engagement and activity, this world where we spend most of our time. God does care about the public arena, about the world of work, about trade, professions, law, government, education, and industry. He has called and anointed many to effectively operate in the marketplace, we just need to embrace this calling.
Women and the Marketplace
In Titus 2:4-5, Paul exhorts older women to “train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home.” Additionally, 1 Timothy 5:14 instructs women to be managers of their homes. Managing a family requires endless work in order for it to operate efficiently. No wonder Paul encouraged older women to teach younger women how to watch over the affairs of their homes. It’s an ongoing, often overwhelming job, but one God has called us to do.
In addition to these prominent references, Scripture displays a handful of examples of women who worked outside of the home. In Romans 16, we learn that Phoebe was a deaconess; Priscilla was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3); Lydia sold fabric (Acts 16:14); Deborah pulled double-duty as a prophetess and a judge (Judg. 4); Samuel’s daughters were bakers, perfumers and chefs (1 Sam. 8:13); and some women were described as midwives in Exodus 1. Then there is Jael, “the most blessed among women” (Judges 5:24). We read that she lured the commander of the Canaanite army to her tent and assassinated him with a tent peg (Judges 4:18-22). Although not technically a paying profession, this last example is a reminder that the Lord fulfils His purposes through women.
Many people ask if women should even work in the first place. The point is simple. God knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11) whether we work outside of the home or not. So maybe the better question women should ask is, “Lord, what have You specifically created me to do?”
It is not about our job. It is not solely about our homemaking abilities. It is about the assignment He designed before the beginning of time. You can make disciples at home or lead a mission in the office. Deborah’s assignment was not Jael’s. That’s the beauty of life. It’s about bringing Him glory; it’s about being usable for the kingdom. The bottom line is that all eternity depends on us living a life worthy of the calling we have received (Eph. 4:1).
Why I am involved in human capital and organisational development?
I describe myself as “a kingmaker poised to bring out the full potential of individuals and organizations for transgenerational impact.” Born Cynthia Dambudzo Chirinda during the Rhodesian era in the Mtoro farming lands of Chivhu, Zimbabwe, my life story is punctuated with testimonies of endurance, overcoming setbacks and adversity whilst continuing to persevere towards my goals and life mission.
By profession, I am an Organisational and Personal Development Consultant with a Communications background. A Certified Life Coach, Author, and Strategist, I facilitate interventions in various organisations and institutions through Organizational Assessment, Change Management, Problem Solving, Team Building and Process Consulting for organizational growth and development. As a leadership and development practitioner I work with Africa Reform Institute (ARI), and Women Politicians’ Incubator Zimbabwe (WOPIZ) to develop values based leaders. My vision through Wholeness Incorporated is to create platforms that provoke critical thinking and thought leadership.
I am a passionate Pan-Africanist whose message is designed to provoke people and institutions to challenge their comfort zones, live balanced lives and create trans-generational solutions. I love to see individuals, organisations and institutions empowered in order to unleash their greatness so that they can make a significant impact in the world.
The biblical prophet, Samuel, who was a king maker in ancient Israel, ushered in alignment at both a personal and national level by empowering people to become what they were supposed to be and to occupy the positions they were supposed to occupy. The experiences and exposure, or lack thereof, that we encounter in life can sometimes cause us to become misaligned with our divine purposes and life assignments.
As a transformation agent, life coach and personal development consultant, I want to influence positive change among communities. I want to allow people to believe in themselves and unleash their potential so that they can create better communities around themselves.
It is possible to manage multiple roles
Considering the many different hats I put on, I have had my fair share of challenges in trying to keep everything working all at once because it is definitely not easy. Being a mother to five children, I recognise the challenges that most women face as they try to balance their different roles in family, ministry and parenting whilst diligently pursuing their careers. The answer is found in your vision, values, beliefs and priorities. In one of my books, “Can The Whole Woman Please stand Up,” I describe how women are often exerted under immense pressure to perform whilst taking care of the needs of everyone around them. I lament that whilst women are dedicated and committed to remaining the fabric of society that holds things together, they often do not take time out to nourish themselves. This is a tragedy. Investing in your personal nourishment may sound selfish yet it is an absolutely critical ingredient that is required if we are going to be able to meaningfully make an impact in our families, careers, business enterprises and the nation at large.
Personal effectiveness demands that you are diligent in managing your energy. As such, you need to know and identify those things that drain your energy and those that activate energy within you. Once you strike a balance it becomes easier to not only keep the balls in the air but to be truly effective, efficient and productive. I speak more in-depth about this in my first book, “The Whole You- Vital keys for Balanced Living.
Why human capital and organisational development?
I am often asked why I primarily ventured into human capital development amongst the many other things that I do. Whilst Infrastructure and human capital take time to develop, I believe that these pillars are critical to success. Lack of adequate infrastructure and human capital investment can limit the economic potential of a city or nation. Infrastructure, human capital and security are critical building blocks. Where this is in place culture and society starts to flourish. My experience as a high school teacher in Chitungwiza and then Harare in 1997, made me realise the importance of shaping minds and provoking critical thinking skills. After this experience I went on to pursue a career in the corporate world in marketing, communications and Public relations. All of the skills and expertise that I gained through the various organisations I worked for have become instrumental in my human capital development work.
My work in ministry and faith based organisations has enabled me to go beyond the conventional human capital practice to a place where my approach focuses on the “whole” person, beyond the employee or leader in the organisation. As a passionate Pan-Africanist, I believe that Africa has the resources and human capital to position herself as a key player in the global village without the paralysing dependence of foreign aid. This calls for the development of thought leaders in all spheres and levels who can lead these processes.
Christian Vision for Business
Christians in modern societies have a specific purpose and role to play in influencing people and ultimately in influencing organizations. In modern societies a range of institutions, including the family, churches, other civil organizations, and the state, is required for humans to live in obedience to the cultural mandate and to find their fulfilment in relationships with God, other humans, and the rest of creation. In modern societies, however, businesses have a particular role to play in cultivating the gift of creation in order to make material provision for humanity. This task must not be separated from a Christian understanding of the human person and society.
A challenge is presented to Christian Business people to ask themselves, is business just a way to make money? Or can the marketplace be a venue for service to others? What implications does the Christian story have for the vision, mission or sense of purpose that shapes business engagement? What challenges exist as attempts are made to live out Christian ideals in a broken world characterized by tight margins, fierce competition and short-term investor pressures? Finally, ask, how are Christian values used to inform and change areas of business? The answer to these questions is tied to the commitment that the Christian has to their faith. Do we act “Christian” only on Sundays and not when we enter the workplace? Do we allow our values to be driven by fierce competition, tight margins ad investor pressures? I would suggest that if we do, we are not fulfilling the purpose God called us into the marketplace to do.
The danger of compartmentalised lives
Many Christian businesspeople know of no other pattern but to split their vocation into two separate worlds: “Christian” and “businessperson.” They are somewhat forced to do so because their vocation isn’t valued as an opportunity for ministry as it is valued with their pastoral counterparts. In fact, many in Christian circles view business people as just that, business people who happen to be Christian. These people are seen as the ones who supply the money needed to build a building or to purchase a piece of land, but they are called to be ministers also; just in a different way. The church must begin to recognize the true value these business people in their congregations bring to the table. If they don’t, they may lose them. Pastoral leadership should be training business leaders in ways that they can minister in the marketplace effectively, not ignore them or see them as a means to supply money.
Embracing Faith in the workplace
There is awareness, or perhaps an awakening, of the need for Christians to stop compartmentalizing their lives and leaving their beliefs at home or church to only be used on Sundays. It is true that as business people, it is frowned upon to talk about religion at work. However, talking about religion and living out one’s faith are entirely different. Christians cannot step back and not “go into all the world and make disciples” as they are instructed to do in the Bible in Matthew 28:19-20, rather they are to find ways of living out their faith and integrating that faith into the marketplace as they set the culture of organizations as the leaders.
The marketplace is vast in comparison to the populations in churches. Moreover, the people who are to be evangelized are not within those walls; they are beyond the doors of the church and many are in marketplace. Faith should be embraced in the workplace by Christians and brought to the marketplace thereby enhancing people and organizations alike.
The benefits of Christian values in the marketplace
Faith in Christ and those who live true Christian values bring an array of benefits to organizations. Such benefits are fairness, equity, social responsibility and the idea that work is good. Faith should call Christian leaders to do all they can to build community within and outside their organizations and to empower employees with honourable work. Leadership plays an important role in how individuals react and handle themselves in different situations. Therefore, Christian leaders are key in setting the standards and establishing the climate that emphasizes Christian values. Bringing the Christian faith to the workplace should enhance values of honesty, integrity and trust. All of which establishes organizational culture and ultimately economic performance.
Christian values are associated with the concept of Servant Leadership. We can agree that the concepts of Servant Leadership are descriptive of those demonstrated by Jesus in the New Testament. Servant leadership has the potential to offer organizations a leadership approach grounded in values, ethics, morals, and empowerment of others.
From Sovereign Foundations to Life Maturing: Lessons learnt
In my book Destination Wholeness: Going Beyond Brokenness, I discuss the Leadership Emergence Theory, Clinton’s theory of leadership development which is outlined in six stages or phases which are Sovereign Foundations, Inner-Life Growth, Ministry Maturing, Life Maturing, Convergence, and Afterglow
Sovereign Foundations are about the early years of our lives, with all the circumstances, events, and significant people which impact us, often in ways over which we have no say or control. In the sovereign foundations phase I developed a stewardship and shepherding spirit from taking care of the flocks which were our primary wealth base in the rural area where I grew up. Cattle, goats and sheep each require a different technique to herd them yet each time you have to keep a watchful eye on them so that they do not stray as you lead them to pastures. I developed knowledge of managing scarce resources, survival skills, and an attitude of humility. Even though I did not have an intimate knowledge of God I developed a dependency and trust in Him because I knew that He alone understood the pain I was going through as a result of the rejection and abuse I suffered during my early childhood years. I was also exposed to spirituality in traditional ancestral practices which gave me an understanding of how the spirit world operated.
Fast forwarding to years later, having started out my working career as a high school teacher, the passion and gift to impart knowledge and skills manifested deeply in my middle leadership years. When I later moved to the corporate world pursuing a career in marketing communications and human resource development, I developed a wealth of corporate management skills which I still use today in my consultancy work.
My journey in Christianity
From the time I gave my life to Christ in 1991, I also received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to develop my spiritual gifts in the area of teaching, exhortation and word of wisdom. Over the years these gifts have matured and I have had the opportunity to exercise them in ministry, in the market place and in nation building initiatives. During the ministry maturing phase of my life I learnt to seek out for inner healing from God because of the series of challenges I faced in my relational life. I have also developed an ability to receive and relay instructions from God for ministry through writing, teaching and praying. It has been a journey of consolidating my gifts and experiences for use in the body of Christ, in organisations and in developing individuals for nation building.
In my life maturing phase I became actively involved in ministry at various levels and to date I have been able to exercise and strengthen the gifts of exhortation, leadership, teaching, wisdom and administration amongst others on several platforms beyond our church walls. My passion for strategy, organizational structuring and leadership has helped me to train groups, produce materials, publications, film productions as well as helping authors to publish their work to date. God has started to increase my reach into national institutions within Africa.
Why I write
One of Africa’s greatest tragedies is the inadequate documentation of our wealth of wisdom. I talk about this in my book, “The Wealth Diary of African Wisdom.” In every generation there is wealth of information that is being destroyed or being lost without getting passed on to the next generation, when we could be employing the baton technique to preserve our narratives.
My passion for writing, in addition to many other hats that I put on, emanates from my desire to communicate and positively influence communities to bring out the best in themselves.
I tend to share with my readers the same internal processes that I go through as an individual who also has struggles on various levels. I am an avid researcher for solutions to the daily challenges we face. Most answers lie within us, others are found through our inspiration, counsellors, coaches and mentors. The most supreme wisdom however, is supernaturally inspired through our divine connection and relationship with God our creator. My most recent book, “The Connection Factor,” discusses the importance of our connections in more depth.
Understand the true essence of our calling as vessels
The word “Vessel” has a number of different meanings, yet all of them relate in some way to liquids and transportation. In 2 Timothy 2:20 we read about vessel types and uses. As vessels of God strategically positioned for a season here on earth to manifest his glory on earth as it is in heaven, we need to understand the true essence of our calling. If we subscribe to Matthew 5:13 which reminds us that we are the salt of the earth, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we have manoeuvred our way into the pots we have been called to flavour or if we have chosen to remain on the shelf for fear of contamination. We need to believe in the power that is within us to transform the flavour of the world and preserve the substance that we are called to impact. Verse 14 of the same scripture tells us that we are the light of the world and therefore need to position ourselves accordingly in order to provide light in the places where it is needed.
The marketplace is an authentic showroom of Christianity.
If you were shopping for a car, you’d probably go to a showroom. Before you bought anything, you’d probably want to see if the car actually functions properly on the road. You might even ask the dealer to allow you to take the car to test it out. The local church is like the showroom for Christianity. The marketplace is the test drive. The marketplace is where our unbelieving co-workers get to see if they really want what we have. Daily, they see how we react under pressure. They see how we treat people. They see how much God truly matters to us in our daily lives. Most people aren’t even coming to the “showroom” anymore, so marketplace Christians are now serving as both the showroom and the test drive of Christianity.
Marketplace ministry leverages our spiritual gifts
The marketplace forces the Church to use all of its capabilities. So far, most of the teaching about “marketplace ministry” has been defining marketplace ministry without regard for people’s unique spiritual gifts. We need to approach marketplace ministry in a way that leverages the spiritual gifts of all Christians in the marketplace. The “one-size-fits-all” approach only produces self-condemnation and ineffectiveness for marketplace Christians attempting to operate outside of their God-given spiritual gifts. At least 85% of the Christian workforce spends 60-70% of their waking hours in the marketplace. In addition to serving our families and our local churches, the marketplace is the primary context in which our spiritual gifts should be used. The ministry potential for Christians using their spiritual gifts collaboratively in the marketplace is astounding!
Leadership Influence and the Christian Marketplace Leader
Within my everyday work I am confronted with the brokenness and injustice that God has called us to mend. In living in such overlap, it forces me to face the brokenness in our world, in our community, and in the work that I do. In facing it then, I experience the call to be part of renewal. We need to grasp a vision of the Kingdom that Jesus described, and by doing our work in places and ways that help others in their communities experience the beauty and peace of that Kingdom. The leadership image should not be the arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet.
Leaders bring value to organizations. Business codes of ethics are not to be eliminated; they are good starting points. However, they lack one important element, they are not influenced by a personal call and do not drive commitment. These codes can drive compliance, but Christian ethics drive commitment due to the Christian’s commitment to Jesus Christ. In the end, the Christian leader can mould the values of a society. With a world that is going awry with violence, bitterness, hatred and corruption, where are the Christians? We need to be in organizations and at the helm of organizations, making decisions that are Christ-led. We need to reshape what is happening in the marketplace and make an impact for Christ.
A call to Trans-generational thinking
We must all challenge ourselves daily to become better versions of ourselves. This requires us to leave our comfort zones and engage in transformative actions for trans-generational impact. Paul said no matter what kind of work you do, if God has called you to do it you will receive an inheritance for doing it. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. You and I are called to greater things than even the one who was considered greatest! Start now to understand and fulfil your purpose.