There comes a point in most people’s lives when they starting asking questions: Is this all there is? What’s next? Is there something more?
Speaking at a Christian Women in Leadership luncheon on January 13, Pam Pugh, co-founder of Women Doing Well, shared her discovery that, “I had been doing a lot, but I was not sure I was doing what I was meant to do. God was calling me to do what matters.”
In a radical decision, Pam told how she stepped away from her profession to find out.
“For the first time since high school, I had no job, and a good friend of mine challenged me to do a 40-day fast.” During that time, Pugh determined to “practice the presence of God and not try to drum things up – to still my soul and seek Christ.” So “into the silent space” she went. A bit stir crazy during the first week, Pugh said she was asking herself, “What have I done?” However she soon realized this time was a gift and that as she focused on Christ, all of the other voices fell silent, and she began to find her true self. “I finally felt God reorienting me,” said Pugh.
Soon the phone began to ring as three other women also felt God was calling them to something more.
“We committed to pray on the phone together every Friday concerning understanding Christian women and what they need to steward their lives.” This was the beginning of Women Doing Well.
As they began to look for research, they found almost none and were often told, “Christian women – that’s an interesting demographic; someone should research that.”
So after raising funds for the study, Women Doing Well™ commissioned Sagamore Institute’s Center on Faith in Communities and Baylor University’s Institute for the Study of Religion (ISR) to design and implement a mixed-methods study to examine philanthropy among Christian women.
They explored Christian women’s motivations for giving time and treasure, their giving practices and preferences, the influences that have nurtured their generosity, the barriers they have faced, and the resources and experiences they have found most helpful.
Launched in fall 2011,a remarkable 7,336 women completed the in-depth questionnaire and another 104 women participated in Focus Groups. Most respondents were white, middle-aged, highly educated and married. Approximately two thirds had incomes under $100,000, and some (618) had incomes over $200,000.
“What we discovered is that indeed women are interested in pressing into what matters,” said Pugh.
After completing the first study on Christian women and giving, research showed that women were indeed doing well:
51.3 percent of all personal wealth in the United States is owned by women
48 percent of estates over $5 million are controlled by women
58 percent of college graduates are women
95 percent of women will be their famiy’s primary financial decision maker at some point in their lives (the average age of an American widow is 57)
But women want to do even better.
Three keys to significance
There were three keys we heard in the survey that made a difference in whether women were living a life of significance: purpose, passion, and plan.
Purpose: “It is within all of us to discover our purpose,” said Pugh, and the study revealed that “those who were more purposed appeared more joyful.”
Passion: The Passion of the Christ evokes the question, “for what are you willing to suffer and sacrifice unto death?” In answering that question, we find our passion. And it is often through enduring hardship that we discover what we are passionate about as God redeems our hard times as a platform to minister to others. When that hardship is lifted to the light, women often find that where they’ve been healed, they can minister to others.
Plan: The study found planning is the weakest area for women. Women who have thought out a plan they can execute, tend to do better at giving, enjoy it more and have a greater impact.
Inspiring Generous Joy
With these three guiding principles, Women Doing Well developed “Inspiring Generous Joy,” a one day retreat experience designed to help women discover their purpose, ignite their passion and create a plan for living and giving in God’s image.
Through Bible study, discussion and fellowship, women learn how to develop their own two-word purpose statement, find their passion and develop a plan for giving back that brings joy. They help women make choices and focus their lives on what really matters.
Finding your giving personality
Self discovery is a starting point on the journey. Pugh said, “When women knew what their tendencies were, their confidence in giving went up.” These tendencies can be referred to as their “giving personality.”
Similar to other personality studies, Women Doing Well developed a 10-question quiz that helps women discover their “giving personalities.”
It categorizes women into four personalities:
A Driver, who tends to be competitive, wants clear, accurate and timely fact-based answers and will act boldy and quickly.
A Champion, who tends to be more spontaneous, likes the big picture in story format and is a committed giving champion who balances enthusiasm with due diligence, taking more time to make decisions.
An Analyst, who is methodical about learning the details and finding solutions, but may get bogged down and act more slowly.
An Encourager, who is drawn to humanitarian issues and stories about individuals. A committed encourager, she has a big heart and may engage in giving that hurts.
In exploring these traits about themselves and developing guiding principles for giving, Women Doing Well is helping women become wise and confident givers who experience the joy of generous giving. For more information, visit WomenDoingWell.com.
The next Christian Women in Leadership luncheon will be held on Friday, February 13 at from 12 – 1:30 p.m. at First Fort Lauderdale’s Global Grille & Events Center. Visit ChristianWomeninLeadership.com to register.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/