That pesky Proverbs 31 woman is back at it again. We read about her—her industry, family, and fear of the Lord— and it’s easy to be overwhelmed. How do we even begin to live like a modern Proverbs 31 woman?
Honestly? Reading through Proverbs 31can be quite intimidating. Especially when we factor in cultural difference and start talking about purple linen and keeping your hand to the distaff.
But Proverbs 31 is mainstream for a reason. There is so much wisdom about Christian life that can be seen if we slow down, look past the cultural principles to the heart of the message and apply the wisdom to our own lives.
Specifically, there is a lot about how Christian women should work and relate to the world. Let’s look at Proverbs 31, not as a list of areas we’re falling short, but as a list of guidelines that we can apply to whatever the Lord has called us to do with our lives.Let’s look at Proverbs 31, not as a list of areas we’re falling short, but as a list of guidelines that we can apply to whatever the Lord has called us to do with our lives. Click To Tweet
Here are 10 principles from Proverbs 31 Christian women should apply to their work:
1. Work Hard and Don’t Resent It
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. – Proverbs 31:13, ESV
Don’t resent the work God has given you to do, seek after it and embrace it. The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t shy away from work or see it as a curse but recognize it is part of the life-giving purpose God has created her to fulfill. Instead of seeing our work as simply a burden to check off, let’s embrace our ability to mirror God as He worked in the 6 days He created the world. While our work may be harder because of the Fall, it is still beautiful and life-giving. We should embrace it as such.
2. Get to Work, Don’t Let it Get to You
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. – Proverbs 31:15, ESV
Wake up early. (I’m mostly writing to myself here.) When you rise early, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the day and get on top of your work before it gets on top of you. Rise (earlier than you need to) and make sure that everything needed for the day is prepared. Take time to prepare your heart by spending time in prayer and Scripture. Look over your planner or to-do list and ensure that you’re prepared and ready to go. Then take a minute to breathe and drink some coffee.
3. Dress Well, But Make Sure You’re Looking at the Inside
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. – Proverbs 31:17, ESV
Can we just take a minute to appreciate that, even back in the days of King Lemuel, women were concerned about dressing well? This makes my heart quite happy. Don’t think that what you’re wearing is meaningless, dress well (Proverbs 31:22) but keep focused on what really matters—the strength you have in our mighty God. Women of God, adorn strength.
As you walk into the world, let this be what catches people’s eyes.
4. Know What Work is Valuable and Focus on That
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. – Proverbs 31:18, ESV
Often, I get caught up in work that has little or no value because it seems like the work I should be doing. A friend recently told me that she knew someone who needed to spend more time with her children but was overwhelmed with laundry. Her solution? She hired someone to come do her laundry so she could focus on what really mattered.
In our work and in our homes, let’s focus on the work that is productive, by whatever goals we have set (familial, spiritual, financial, etc.) and focus on that work. Let us not burden ourselves with work that does not fit the priorities God has given us and instead, work hard at the tasks He has placed before us.
5. Be Willing to do the Hard Work
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. – Proverbs 31:19, ESV
As Christian women, we need to get beyond the idea that hard work is beneath us and embrace the difficult tasks. Both Amy Carmichael and Mother Teresa ministered greatly to others through their willingness to do manual labor that was deemed below them. Through their humility, eyes were opened to the humble heart of Christ. Likewise, we need to be willing to do work, even when it’s hard and unflattering, when it is what we are called to do.
6. Keep Those in Need Always in Mind and Practice
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. – Proverbs 31:20, ESV
Both in our ethics in the workplace and how we conduct our lives, we need to prioritize opening our hands to those in need. Scripture emphasizes helping the poor and needy over and over again but yet, we live as if we are excluded from that due to extenuating circumstances (either ours or theirs). If we are to be God-honoring in our work, supporting the poor through ethical business practices must be central. As Christians, we need to make this a foundational principle not only for how we make decisions, but also how we spend our time and money.Scripture emphasizes helping the poor and needy over and over again but yet, we live as if we are excluded from that due to extenuating circumstances (either ours or theirs). Click To Tweet
7. Learn from Your Experience but Always Stay Humble
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. – Proverbs 31:26, ESV
Especially as we grow older and gain experience, it is easy to look down on those below us. But the Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t do this. Instead of sarcasm and contempt, she shares her wisdom with others and fills her mouth with kindness. Especially as women, it is easy for us to feel like we must force our way into conversations. But this isn’t how Christian women should present themselves. While we should not let others walk all over us, we need to be careful in how we open our mouths. We need to regularly ask ourselves, “Am I opening my mouth to share wisdom and is my speech marked by kindness?” If you can’t answer yes, it is time to reevaluate your speech.
8. Don’t Neglect Your Home
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. – Proverbs 31:27, ESV
As we busy ourselves with the work God has given us, we cannot neglect our homes. While I’m all for dividing up chores and hiring out services (if that’s in your budget), we need to be working towards lives of balances so that both our work and homes are well looked after. This means reading, searching Pinterest, and talking with friends to find out what habits help them balance their various demands. It might mean setting a few habits into place to keep your work from piling up and becoming overwhelming.
For me, this means running the dishwasher before bed every night and unloading the dishwasher before I drink my morning coffee so that it’s easy to rinse dishes and put them in throughout the day. For a friend of mine, this means starting a small load of laundry every night of whatever is dirty from that day (she washes everything together on cold) and drying and folding it first thing so her laundry situation doesn’t get out of hand. Find out what you can do to keep your work at home from becoming overwhelming and implement it!
9. Involve Your Family
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” – Proverbs 31:28-29, ESV
One of my favorite parts of the Proverbs 31 women is that her family recognizes all that she does. But for me? Often I feel unrecognized and unseen. While I this is partially because I need to focus on serving, not for the reward of recognition, but out of love for those I’m serving, it’s also partially because I isolate myself. I don’t think the Proverbs 31 woman did this. I think in her work, she spoke with her family about what she was doing and valued their opinion. She’s inspired me to both serve out of love but also to trust that God has gifted my family in unique was to support me (and for me to support them) and we need to be exercising that mutual support to work as God designed.
10. Know Where Your Value Lies
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. – Proverbs 31:30-31, ESV
Ultimately, we remember the Proverbs 31 woman in Chrsitian circles because of her fear of the Lord. She knows that is where her lasting values lie. So too, we must place our value in the Lord and not in temporary things. Whether it’s beauty, charm, or your latest promotion, you need to recognize these things will eventually all fade away. Work hard, as if working for the Lord, but know that your value lies, not in your labors, but in the completed work of Christ on the cross.