All of us are naturally good at some things and not so good at others, and that is not an accident. We are each constructed perfectly, but differently, just as God desired, and He made no mistakes when He was personally “fashioning me within my mother’s womb” (Psalm 130:13).
Paul’s list of motivational gifts given to us by God in the womb in Romans 12:3-8 reflects the full range of the diversity He has built into our makeup. The gifts in this list can be seen as being in two categories—either “doing” gifts, such as leading (administering), serving, and giving, and “relating” gifts, like prophecy, teaching, encouraging, or extending mercy. Generally, each of us feels more comfortable and capable in one of these two categories—doing or relating.
To be organized is a wonderful gift to have as a homemaker, and completing the host of tasks she faces each day is certainly much easier if it comes naturally, as it does to most women with doing gifts. It is said of the Proverbs 31 woman that “She watches over the ways of her household (administers her home in such a way that it runs smoothly), and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27). As one woman said, after reading this verse, “How does she have time to eat anything!”
However, a woman who is not naturally gifted in organization can feel very discouraged by the standards set here. She must realize that this is a composite woman, a fictitious woman, whom God is using as a standard—a standard that no one actually meets fully. Much of what this virtuous wife does are tasks that demand organization and the ability to push a job through to completion, and the organizationally-gifted will shine here. Those who are not will discipline themselves as much as possible, and, through hard work, achieve a measure of success in the task-oriented portion of her job, though it may never come easily.
But God does not make mistakes in the giving of gifts and abilities. He does not give anyone all of them, thus the diversity among Proverbs 31 homemakers. The doers do not need to feel too proud of being able to do well what God gave them naturally the ability to do, because sometimes they have difficulty relating to people. By the same token, those without natural organizational ability often excel in the area of personal relationships that demand communicating feelings. These relators are excellent with people, and find they have the younger women’s ready ears because of the relationships they have with them.
Often, more gifted organizers see the task as primary and people get in the way of the job they have to do. As one woman actually said to Jill (her very words!): “Tuesday is my day to shake out the scatter rugs, and I don’t want anyone to come by so I’ll have to talk to them.” This is a task-oriented woman who undoubtedly keeps a beautiful home with everything in order, but it is doubtful that she needs to worry about younger women coming by and interrupting her cleaning to ask any questions, thereby profiting from her experience.
In God’s economy, this is God’s way of showing us that we need one another. We need each other’s gifts to spur us to excel still more in areas in which we might not be naturally gifted. The highly organized will see that she can learn from the relators how to communicate better with people. At the same time, the relationally-gifted can learn from their more task-oriented sisters how to better execute the jobs they must perform.
Over the past few weeks we have taken a rather detailed look at God’s divine call to married women to be workers at home, and what that entails. But what about those single women who as yet are not married, or who will never marry? What about widowed or divorced women?
There is a place in the workforce for single women. When they find themselves in a situation where it is necessary for them to work outside the home to support themselves and their children, God watches over them and protects them as He provides for them. In Biblical times, fathers or other male family members either continued that support or picked it up again, but in today’s culture, that is often not the case.
It is important to see that God’s norm for women is marriage, but I realize there are many women for whom God has a different plan as they find themselves in one of those atypical circumstances mentioned above. If that is your situation, It is important to know that you are right where God wants you, at least for now, and your life is not on hold! He is using you, right now, to spread His rule over the earth. For whatever inscrutable reason, He wants you single at this time. Remember, whether you are married or single, God still prizes the quality of a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:3, 4) in all His daughters.
Therefore, employment outside the home can be in a position that even enhances that spirit, though what a woman does will not guarantee that she will demonstrate this quality (a homemaker can certainly be contentious and ill-tempered). Confrontation or competition with men, or any type of corporate decision-making responsibility that demands strong, controversial, decision making does not reinforce the character for which God is seeking in His daughters.
On the other hand, the caring, nurturing professions can be a way for that gentle and quiet spirit to be expressed and even encouraged. The medical profession (doctor or nurse) and the teaching profession are two of those avenues, and I’m sure there are others that would qualify as well.
And there are always exceptions. There is no more contentious profession than politics, and one would think there could not be a less appropriate vocation for a woman who is working outside the home. However, in 1996 a Christian woman, Ellen Craswell, a sixty-four-year-old grandmother and long-time state senator, won the Republican nomination for Governor of Washington State. She was a personal friend and a devout Christian who pulled no punches when it came to her faith. “I follow Jesus in all I do,” she said. Furthermore, she publicly proclaimed that she would continue to do so as governor if she were elected. Amazingly, there was never any doubt about her deference to her husband and his leadership in her personal life.
You can imagine the response in liberal Washington State, yet she maintained an exemplary “gentle and quiet spirit” throughout the campaign, which she lost decisively. Washington was not ready for such a warrior. Here is a link to her obituary in the Seattle Times, an extremely liberal newspaper, that reflects the impression she made on Washington State. This is well-worth the read. Craswell Obituary. This gentle and quiet spirit was dangerous, and God used Ellen mightily.
Another consideration that bears brief mention is the susceptibility of women in the workplace to sexual advances, be they intentional or unintentional. Women are attractive to men, and sexual relationships generally don’t start out intentionally. A lonesome woman is noticed by a man, who is having trouble in his relationship with his wife. She gives him an open ear as he shares his problems, and an affair is born. This tragedy is replayed over and over again daily among Christians, and must be carefully guarded against when a woman goes to work outside the home.
In the inscrutable, divine plan of God, He has ordained that some women, such as Corrie ten Boom, the renowned Christian Holocaust survivor, will not have the opportunity to function as Proverbs 31 wives, but the love of God, expressed through their gentle and quiet spirits will touch all they meet.