Instead of Leaning In, Try Leaning Hard

Joanna Meyer

Denver Institute is on the move! Friday morning, May 12th we’ll be trekking up I-25 to Johnstown’s Candlelight Dinner Theater for the first Women & Vocation event in Northern Colorado. I can’t wait to meet the 40 women who will join us for a breakfast discussion at “Embracing Our Call: God’s Empowering Vision for Women & Work” (tickets still available!)  As each registration notification arrives in my inbox, I ponder the challenges that each woman faces in her work. I wonder: How Kathy, a small business owner, handles the stress of growing sales while managing her teenagers’ busy schedules; If Laura, a state representative, struggles to honor her convictions in the Capital’s partisan atmosphere; How Marla, a nonprofit director, protects her staff from burning out as they care for clients’ often overwhelming needs. Women’s advocates, like Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, encourage women to fully embrace demanding careers, but what if God has a different message for women and their work? What if, instead of leaning in, he asks us to lean hard? Long before Sandberg challenged women to throw themselves into their work, Anglican minister Octavius Winslow (1808-1878) invited readers of either gender or any occupation to place their burdens on God. Take a moment to enjoy Winslow’s poem, "Lean Hard," and ask yourself: “How could I allow God to carry the weight of my daily work? How might I experience work differently if I relied on God’s strength, rather than my own?” Lean Hard Child of my love, lean hard, And let me feel the pressure of thy care; I know thy burden, child, I shaped it; Poised it in mine own hand,     made no proportion In its weight to thine unaided strength; For even as I laid it on, I said, “I shall be near, and while she leans on me,     This burden shall be mine, not hers; So shall I keep my child within the circling           arms of mine own love.” Here lay it down, nor fear To impose it on my shoulder which          upholds the government of worlds.     Yet closer come; Thou art not near enough;     I would embrace thy care so I might feel my            child reposing on my breast. Thou lovest me? I knew it. Doubt not then But loving me, lean hard. How will you respond to God’s invitation—not only to lean in—but to lean hard?  


Joanna Meyer

Joanna serves as Denver Institute’s Director of Public Engagement, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that disciples women for godly influence in public life. Prior to coming to the Institute, Joanna worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, and campus ministry with Cru. She served as associate faculty at Denver Seminary and as a sewing instructor at Fancy Tiger Crafts. A third-generation Coloradan, Joanna appreciates both the state’s innovative culture and its cowboy roots. She has an MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also completed a certificate of Women in Leadership through Cornell University.

She is the author of Women, Work, & Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World (IVP, Fall 2023) and is a contributor to the multi-author book, Women & Work: Bearing God’s Image and Joining in His Mission through our Work (B&H Publishing, Spring 2023).