As my husband and I prepared to move to Jackson, Mississippi a year ago so that he could finish his degree at Reformed Theological Seminary, I was sad to bid farewell to my coworkers and friends at BCWI. I worked hard to finish projects and prepare notes to aid whoever would take my place, but somewhere during that process we realized that much of my work is done on the computer and thus could be done remotely. We quickly made the necessary arrangements and when I finally set out for my nearly 3000 mile drive to my new home my work computer and a few files were safely stowed away in the trunk of my car.
In the year since that transition I’ve had a lot of time to think about this phenomenon of working at home and particularly how it pertains to my faith. There are ways in which it has clearly been a blessing both to me and the company, but there are also things that one misses out on – spiritually speaking – when working from home.
With all the changes of moving to a new place (let me tell you, Seattle and Jackson are culturally worlds apart!) and adjusting to a new phase of life (as my husband and I both transitioned from working to taking classes), it was a relief for me not to have to learn a whole new job. Similarly, it was a huge blessing not to have to look for a new job, but instead focus all that energy into the job I already had. On a spiritual level, this was a huge blessing financially as my husband and I pursued training for future full-time ministry.
This was also a blessing to BCWI in that they didn’t have to go through the hiring process and train someone new – a costly and time consuming process. This was particularly helpful because during my time at BCWI we had begun utilizing a few new technologies and I was the one most familiar with them making training a new hire all the more difficult. Of course secular businesses benefit from this as well, but particularly for an organization like BCWI, that is doing kingdom work, being good stewards of all God has given the organization is of even greater importance.
My husband and I found that our lives continued to change as we had our first baby and working from home became even more of a blessing as I could work during the time our baby was sleeping and still be available to care for him when he was awake. This flexibility and level of comfort is something I never would have had at the office and as I believe God has called me, among other things, to be a good mother, I’m thrilled that it has worked out this way.
Just as I’m able to make efficient use of my time, I think BCWI is getting the most efficient use of their time. That is, when I was expected to be in the office 8 hours a day, I know there were times I was less efficient due to fatigue or distractions. Now that I have more flexibility in my work schedule, when I sit down to work, I am really able to focus on the task at hand.
Yet, the most surprising thing that I discovered this past year about working remotely and its impact on my spiritual state is how much I miss the fellowship I had in the office. People always joke that working for Best Christian Workplaces Institute must be the best place to work and I can’t deny that I thank God for such a wonderful job with such great people! Now that I work remotely I still have the joy of doing kingdom work and I know that I am compensated fairly and cared for by my employer. But the day-to-day conversations, the sharing of prayer requests, the laughter and commiseration over frustrating days, that is all much harder now. I still care a great deal for my coworkers, but I no longer know what to specifically pray for them. Nor do I have the joy of knowing when those prayers are answered.
In the end, I am thankful for the opportunity to continue working remotely for BCWI, but I miss the depth of relationship that came from being in the office. As a Christian, I know that God created us to be in fellowship with one another and so I encourage Christian business owners to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each individual situation before signing off on having an employee work from home. There’s no simple answer – it’s a matter of wisdom.