Sharon Platt-McDonald worked as a nurse and other roles within the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom for 26 years, before her call to serve as a leader within the British Union Conference. She has authored many books and resources for the church, and recently talked about her passions, ministry and recent publications.
Tell us about your role as Director of Health, Women’s Ministries and Adventist Community Services at the British Union Conference.
My role is a strategic one. For Health Ministries, I’m involved in teaching and producing materials for members on healthy lifestyle choices and wholistic wellbeing. For Women’s Ministries, the key objective is to equip women to achieve their full potential. It also involves creating environments in which they can thrive. Then with Adventist Community Services, I focus on encouraging members to be part of and reach out to their communities, and making our churches welcoming and relevant to everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religious persuasion, cultural background or any other difference that distinguishes them.
What led you into this work?
As a young adult, I was influenced by Jesus’ ministry of compassion while He was on Earth. This led me to pursue a career as a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor. I then went into health management and managed nurses, therapists and more for seven years. Although I loved my years with the NHS, there came a point when I felt a desire to work within a Christian environment and began praying that God would open the way. My current role is a result of God’s answer to prayer.
Where did the idea to write Women of Virtue come from?
I would say that book is a culmination of the life lessons God has taught me through the years. It was also borne out of the life of my late mother, Dorothy Mercilyn Platt, to whom I dedicated the book. I saw Proverbs 31:10–31 lived out in every facet of her life. She was a devout woman of God, faithful wife, outstanding mother and exceptional friend to all who knew her. She was a tremendous inspiration in my life, my work and my ministry.
As you studied Proverbs 31, what spoke most to your heart personally?
Two things were highlighted for me. First, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the portrait of excellence in Proverbs 31. Growing up, I often heard that every woman had to aspire to be exactly like the Proverbs 31 woman. We were taught that this was the type of woman a good Christian man was looking for—so expectations were high! However, as I studied the passage, I realised it is not about trying to become the “perfect” woman or attempting to do all the things that the woman of Proverbs 31 does so well. It is about embracing all that God has blessed you with, whether little or much, and giving back to Him wholeheartedly in faithful service to those within your sphere of influence. With that understanding, we can manage expectations and be ourselves. Second, it struck me that our priorities are more important than our skills. Regardless of all that she does so superbly, it is the woman’s fear of God for which she is praised most (Proverbs 31:30).
What is your hope for women in the Adventist church?
There are four areas where I hope we can invest in women’s lives: (1) spiritual development, (2) involvement in mission activities, including social action, justice and evangelism, (3) empowerment of leaders and (4) encouraging inclusion of women in church life.
What drives you to write? What issues do you hope to address through your writing?
I’m passionate about sharing the message of health, hope and healing: aspiring to optimum health through balanced lifestyle practices; developing a positive mindset, which includes embracing hope; and accessing interventions to aid in recovery, healing and restoration. I believe that as we follow Divine directives for emotional, physical, spiritual and social wellbeing, we will positively impact others and bring glory to God.
Women of Virtue and other books by Sharon Platt-McDonald are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.