“She watches over the activities of her household…”
~ Proverbs 31:27 HCSB
My heart cringed as an acquaintance nonchalantly questioned another woman’s decision to not breastfeed her child. The comment was not meant to be harsh or mean, it just lacked understanding. The mother making the comment could not understand a situation where an average mother would make that decision. However, I had been there. I had made that decision, and I am confident it is the decision God wanted me to make at the time, but I remember the shame. I could see the same doubt in the other mother’s eyes as she fed her baby from the bottle. She did not want anything but the best for her baby. Maybe she had made the wrong decision. I am not here to argue the benefits of breastfeeding (which are many, and which I have joyfully been able to do with my third son for more than a year now). I am here to talk about God’s expectations for us as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and women. I want to say, many women’s idea of supermom is misguided; God does not expect us to do everything, he expects us to run our homes well. Those concepts are two very different things.
Let me give another, more personal illustration. I love to cook and bake, but since having kids, I often find my meals are quick and healthy. I do not experiment with recipes like I once did and baking is often relegated to special events. I have some dear friends, however, who have more kids than I do, but they manage to put lavish, gourmet meals on the table each night, not to mention the hot breakfast each morning. I often compare myself to these woman and find myself lacking. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with the way I do it. It fits our family and our priorities, which are different than theirs. Do our families both eat healthy food? Yes. Do our families find the meals delicious? Yes! Does me accepting some limits on my time make my children and husband happier? Yes! And, truth be told, I am happier too, because at the bottom of all I do is God’s plan for me.
Proverbs 31:27 says “she watches over the activities of her household.” Note that this does not say she DOES all the activities of her household, or she strictly requires exact obedience in the implementation of the activities of her household. God expects that we, as the women of the house, watch over the activities of the household. Watch over means to be in charge of or superintend. For the sake of illustration, let’s think of bosses or leaders you may have had. What qualities make for a good boss or leader? How about a bad one? As we contemplate this, let’s see which can apply to running a home.
1. A good leader has exemplary character. This person may be described as honest, trustworthy, or full of integrity. We have to go no further than Proverbs to find a verse where God confirms that a woman of good moral character is important. In Proverbs 12:4, it says: “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”
2. A good leader is enthusiastic about their work and their role as a leader. Yes, that even includes laundry, cleaning bathrooms, etc. What a blessing to have the resources and ability to do this! God instructs us in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” I am not saying you have to whistle and sing for joy while you do it, but your family should get the idea you are joyful to be their wife, mother, etc.
3. A good leader is confident, able to weather the storms of life. A godly woman is able to do this because she remembers God’s promises. In Isaiah 41:10, it says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Trials and struggles should not cause you to sink into darkness and despair, but cause you to lean on God and the relationship you are building in the quiet times. Good athletes will tell you that practice is what makes the best players in tough games.
This is not an exhaustive list of qualities, but all these things point to one thing: God should be first priority in your life so he can give you strength in all other aspects. Does this mean that if you put God first you will be the envy of other woman in your community because of your excellence in all areas? Probably not. However, it will mean that you are on track to being the best ever you and helping your family to achieve the same. And, hopefully, it will help you relax if you give your children the occasional fast food meal or if your children could not read Anna Karenina by the age of 3. In the end, each person is different and a beautiful child of God. We should embrace that and work on walking together down a righteous path.
May God give you the strength and wisdom to watch over your home.
*A side note for further thought: God instructs us to be watchful in various places of the Bible. For example, in 1 Peter 5:8, we are told: “Be vigilant, watch. Your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour.” While I highlighted the side of running a household where a woman runs herself ragged, their is the other side alluded to in this verse for the woman who is not even watchful over her household. This is a convicting thought for me too. At either extreme, we lose focus on God and our lives go out of balance.