Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Carolyn McCulley says more of us need to be saying this kind of thing to our employers . . .

Carolyn McCulley: ". . . I'm not going to take that promotion, or I'm not going to take that step because then I wouldn't be free to serve in the church. I couldn't serve as a small group leader. I couldn't head this ministry team because this job requires me to travel too much." And that, whether you do that as a married person or a single person, is absolutely radical in our culture.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Tuesday, June 14th. This week's series is called, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Here's Nancy to introduce today's program.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you're a listener who is not married and you think that perhaps God may one day choose to have you married, have you ever stopped to consider that many of the decisions you are making right now are going to have bearing on your future marriage and on the relationship with the husband that God may be bringing to your life?

Now the fact that we are talking with single women primarily this week, let me just say I don't want married women to tune out because things we are talking about really do have some practical implications for all of our lives as women. So, you want to be sure and hear this special program today with our guest, Carolyn McCulley. She has been with us talking about her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Carolyn, thanks for writing this book, and thanks for coming here to talk with us about this important subject.

Carolyn: It's been a lot of fun. Thank you.

Nancy: I love the way that in this book you have taken Proverbs chapter 31, which is ordinarily considered to be a passage for married women, but you've shown how the principles, the character qualities, the skills that this woman develops are skills that need to be developed by women that are single before they get married and even if they never get married.

Carolyn: Yes, and one of the things I really appreciate about this is that you see in the Proverbs 31 woman a woman who was savvy about her finances, about her business transactions, and about her ability to save money, but this was all done in the context of relationships--what is it that is going to benefit her husband and her children and others that she is responsible for.

Nancy: So let's talk about this whole area of money: investing, saving, job, work. This passage talks about the woman planting a vineyard. It talks about her buying, selling, and selecting merchandise. That has a lot of application because many of us as older, single women have to make a lot of those decisions on our own, and we need to know how to have wisdom in these financial issues of life.

Carolyn: It's true. For those of us, and I've done this throughout my twenties, have just spent all the money that we made, assuming that one day our status was going to change. We'll get married, and then we'll have enough money to start saving, and then we'll have enough money to start being generous to other people.

I don't think that's right. I don't think that would be God's heart for us in this season. If we don't follow God's principles now for how to handle our money, why do we think that this is suddenly going to change when we get married?

Nancy: For a wife to enter marriage debt-free is really an incredible gift to her husband.

Carolyn: Yes, it's kind of the modern dowry now. I know men who actually evaluate the women that they are dating and considering and praying over by how she handles her money. It is considered an evidence of her faithfulness now that allows them to consider whether she would be faithful with their mutual assets in the future.

Nancy: Yet there is a balance here. Carolyn, we're challenging women to live within their means and for some that may mean living more simply than they would prefer to, and yet you challenge women to also make some purchases and some investments that they may not typically think of making as single women.

Carolyn: Yes, I think there are a number of items that we typically think of as only being conferred upon us when we get married. Even something as simple as owning china. We think we shouldn't have that until we get married. But if you love to have people over to your house, if you love to have dinner parties in order to offer hospitality to people, and this would be something that you would enjoy having, then why not purchase it now?

It's not necessarily conferred upon marriage. If you will use it faithfully, it becomes an asset. It's not just something that just sits in a china sideboard some place, but it's a tool for blessing others that says, "I'm making a special effort for you."

It's not an evidence of giving up that you go and get a china pattern. Nor is something larger, like a house, evidence of something that is given to you as a consolation prize. "Well, looks like you're not getting married, you better get that house." Nor is it something that should be conferred upon you upon matrimony. Because a house is simply a resource, it's an asset.

It's an asset that you can use to bless others, but it is something that helps balance out any investments you are making in the stock market or in banking. It is something that I can use to offer hospitality, to invite people into my home. It's not a sign I have given up. It's not a barrier or impediment to getting married.

Nancy: So, you encourage women to save, to invest, to make wise expenditures. Let's touch on another area that relates to finances, and that is our jobs, the workplace. Most of us as single women are required to work to support ourselves, and we really can glorify God through the way we do our job, through our vocation.

Carolyn: It's true, and there are many decisions that we have to make, thinking in terms of the future and the long-term. If I invest in this career now, how much debt will I take on? Will that be a blessing or a burden to a future husband? If I take on this kind of career track, are they expecting me to work very hard, to work long hours?

You have to think. Just because the world sets a standard before you that says your career is your highest priority, we have to step back and say, "Am I stepping into something that is going to require me to work 10 or 12 or 16 hours a day and thus start to pull me away from relationships." I am not an automaton just because I am single. In fact, I have a greater need for fellowship and intimacy because I don't have it at home.

So I know many people who have evaluated their jobs and said, "I'm not going to take that promotion, or I'm not going to take that step because then I wouldn't be free to serve in the church. I couldn't serve as a small group leader. I couldn't head this ministry team because this job requires me to travel too much." And that, whether you do that as a married person or a single person, is absolutely radical in our culture.

Nancy: Talk for just a moment, Carolyn, about the danger of emotional connections that we may find ourselves in on the job.

Carolyn: Sure. All you have to do is open up a newspaper these days and see how many people have fallen into adultery at work. It is a place where you are working with somebody side-by-side. You are helping advance their cause. If you have a married male boss, you are being his helper--just like God has designed women to be in the context of marriage.

Inevitably, the personal life starts creeping up and you have to watch out. What is my heart doing? Whether it's a married colleague or what I call an "off-limits" man . . . . He may be single, but he's not a believer and that in the context of the workplace can be a real snare for single women because those men are often a lot more aggressive about pursuit than men in the church. It can be hard to keep that standard in mind and say, "This man's not a believer; I can't receive his time and attention."

Nancy: So what are some questions to ask yourself when you see yourself perhaps being drawn into this kind of relationship to really study your own heart and know whether you're headed the right direction in this relationship?

Carolyn: Well, I would say the number one thing is to avoid discussing your married colleague's marital woes. That's like the number one issue. If he is turning to you as a confidant, if he wants to tell you about all the things that are wrong with his wife, beware because that is usually the first crack that he is trying to get through in order to build a relationship with you that is illicit or adulterous. That's where it gets started.

Nancy: Of course, you are not thinking adultery at that moment. You're not having any concept of where this may lead.

Carolyn: No, none at all. You just want to be there for him and just to hear, but it's not appropriate. It's not appropriate for you to receive that about his wife, and more often than not, the reason men are willing to tell you that is because they are trying to win your sympathy.

Nancy: So don't listen. And that is true, not just in the workplace, but in the church. As we are thrown into relationships with men who are married, one of the policies I have in my life, and I work with a lot of godly men, but every couple has issues and difficult moments in their marriage.

One of the policies in my life is I don't listen to those men criticize their wives or speak negatively of them or share those pressures they're going through. If they need a godly, biblical counselor, then he should go to a man, or they should go to a couple. That's not appropriate for me to be listening to that man speak that way about his wife.

How else can a woman in the workplace protect herself from sexual sin?

Carolyn: One thing you have to do is apply the principle of guarding your heart. You have to realize when your heart is starting to turn towards someone that is beyond the duties of your job. Oftentimes we can be blind to it, but we can see it in our friends. So I would encourage us as single women, as all women, to evaluate the kind of response we're seeing coming from our friends.

Are they lit up when they talk about their married colleagues? Do they need to discuss things after hours? Are there lots of times spent together in situations that could be tempting, one-on-one lunches or meeting in hotel rooms when you could just as easily meet in the hotel's lobby? These are situations where you set yourself up, not only for the occasion of sin, but also just for creating a kind of intimacy in your heart that you don't even realize is the beginning of that slippery slope.

Nancy: So, do you have some parameters? You are working in a full-time ministry, working with married men. What are some of the hedges or protections that you put in place in your own life that you put in place to guard your heart and to guard those men's marriages?

Carolyn: Well, one thing that is a very awkward transaction, and that is to ensure that I'm always part of a group. So when I head out, I always have to bring my group with me. It makes some things tedious, and in some cases, even more expensive that I can't just travel one-on-one with another colleague, but it's a way of honoring my colleagues' wives, and it is a safeguard and protection for me and my reputation as well, too.

Nancy: When you sense something stirring in your own heart toward a man who is "off-limits," what do you do?

Carolyn: I think when you find yourself looking forward to Monday mornings, not because you have a challenging task to do, but because you get to spend time with that certain person whose popping up in your thoughts a lot, that's where you have to step back and say, "What are the consequences of my actions going to be if I allow these thoughts to go on in their natural course?"

Either I'm flirting with danger because I'm attempting to draw the attentions of a man who is not a believer, or I'm attempting to draw the attention of a man who's married and perhaps setting us up for adultery. You have to look at the long-term consequences and not say these are little innocent steps, little innocent flirtations, because they all progress some place.

Nancy: One of the things I have found helpful to be honest with my own heart is if there is ever even just that moment of being drawn in a direction that I know is not God's will for my life, is to go to a mature Christian woman and open my heart and share where I am and say, "I need prayer. I need accountability."

There is just something about secrecy, that keeping those thoughts to yourself, that fuels the emotions and fuels the potential for sin. And so getting honest . . . . This is why it is so important to be a part of a community of believers, a part of a local church and those who will love you enough to say, "How you doing in this? How's your thought life?"

The point may come where you need to change jobs. You need to get out of that environment. I said to a woman recently who had fallen into an immoral relationship in the workplace. I said, "You should have left that job five years earlier when you first starting having these thoughts, this drawing, this emotional drawing, and you knew you were not in a position to be handling that."

That's where we need to be serious enough about wanting to be pure, wanting to protect our hearts for the Lord and also for the possibility of a future husband, not to speak of protecting these other men's marriages where we need to really, really take this seriously and do whatever it takes to keep a pure heart.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Carolyn McCulley have been helping us think through some of the safeguards godly women need to have in place. We didn't have time to bring you the whole conversation between Nancy and Carolyn today, but when you order our current series on CD, you'll hear the complete interview. Just ask for Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? when you call us at 1-800-569-5959.

That's also the name of Carolyn's helpful book. It's the basis of what she and Nancy are talking about today. If you think Proverbs 31 can only describe a married woman, you need to read this book. Again, you can order at 1-800-569-5959 or order online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we'll examine the impact a single woman can have on the children around her. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.