She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:13-15, 20, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Family is important to God. He created it before He created the church and, as with each of His creations, He made a plan for it to succeed. At the heart of that plan is love. To be part of a family is to be loved. Yesterday, we saw that the first step to loving our family is to build trust. The second step is to serve our family with joy. We are told by many to serve ourselves – not others. The Proverbs 31 woman had every opportunity to live a life of leisure.
- She had a prominent husband.
- She had a lot of influence.
- She was visible and active in the community.
- She was in charge of charity events.
But she got up while it was still dark to make breakfast for her family and for those who served her. Proverbs 31:13 tells us she worked with “eager” hands. The literal meaning of “eager” is “in delight or in chosen joy.” In other words, she chose to serve with joy, which means we can choose to serve our family with joy as well. Jesus teaches the truth that service is a natural result of love.
Galatians 5:13 “For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other.”
Yet, many of us find it easier to serve everyone in love except our family. When my husband, Dan, was a youth pastor, we saw a variety of family dynamics. At one church, a young man came to us in tears. I will never forget his words, “My parents are getting a divorce because mom has time for everyone in the world except my dad and me!” Service to those we love and call family should not be a burden. In fact, an attitude of service is contagious. The best way to teach your family to serve is to serve them.
From childhood, making the bed was one of my kids’ daily chores. I told them that one day a week, I would make their bed for them. It could be a day when they were running late for school, when they were too tired or didn’t feel well. Whatever the reason, I would serve them by making their bed one day a week. One morning, I was running behind and in a hurry to visit my husband who was recovering from an emergency appendectomy. I had been at the hospital day and night for a week and was exhausted. I got up very early, took one look at my bed and decided I just didn’t want to make it. I went to take a shower, hoping it would wake me up. When I came out, Danna, our eleven-year-old daughter had made my bed. To love our family, we must serve with joy.
Proverbs 31:15b, 21, 27 (LB) “She plans the day’s work. She has no fear of winter for her household, for she has made warm clothes for all of them. She watches carefully all that goes on throughout her household.”
Planning prevents chaos. The Proverbs 31 woman was in control of her home and her life. The control came from good planning. She mastered the skill of homemaking before she ever set foot in the workplace. She set her priorities; then arranged her life around them. She didn’t allow others to set priorities for her and she did what was important, not just urgent. Have you noticed that the urgent things in life barge in demanding attention while the important things wait to be chosen? We can spend a lifetime on the urgent and miss the most important things God has for us. We must set family priorities because if we don’t, the world will.
The Proverbs 31 woman knew what needed to be done and made sure that it was done first and in the right way. She didn’t fear winter or the hard times because she was prepared. Family should provide the most satisfying earthly relationships. If it doesn’t, the problem may be with our planning. Here are some practical tips for planning:
- Budget your time.
- Choose one day a week to plan.
- Eliminate. Have an “elimination” meeting once a month with your family. Eliminate the things that hurt your family.
- Learn to leave the “lesser” things undone.
- Delegate. Include everyone in the family in the work as well as the playing.
- Simplify. Give up on perfection. It’s for heaven – not earth.
- Plan well. It demonstrates your love for your family.
Proverbs 31:16-18 (LB) “She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her own hands she plants a vineyard. She is a hard worker. She works far into the night.”
There is nothing lazy about this woman. Laziness should not be part of our character as women of God. The Proverbs 31 woman was busy, but not too busy …and she was not busy doing the wrong things. Busyness does not always equal productivity. I believe a woman can have it all – a career, a family. I’m just not sure she can have it all at the same time. This woman has a strong sense of who she is and what God created her to be. She has a clear plan for life. And notice she doesn’t do all of the work herself. (By the way, this is your Scriptural justification for a maid or as I tell my children,”Why do you think God made kids?”) Working together builds a sense of family. In a nationwide survey, thousands of school children were asked, “What makes a happy family?” The most-mentioned key to happiness was “doing things together.” Plan family projects and family work days. At the end of the day, order a pizza and rent a movie as a reward. You can build some of your greatest family traditions and memories around work. When our kids were younger, we bought our Christmas tree and put up our Christmas lights every Thanksgiving weekend. While it is a lot of work, it is also a family tradition.
A woman who loves her family is willing to work hard for them and with them, planning well and building trust.
Father, family is so important to You and I want it to be that important to me as well. Thank You for the family You have given me. I love each one of them and want them to be sure of my love. Please help me love them in ways they can understand. I pray that our family will be filled with trust and become a haven for each family member. Be glorified in our home and in our family.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s your turn
- Identify areas of your family life that need to be more structured.
- Establish a weekly family meeting to plan and connect as a family.
- Use the principles in step three to become a better planner.
- Establish a new family tradition that invites every family member to participate.
More from the Girlfriends
I once heard someone say, “Home is the place you go where they have to take you in.” I love that statement. And it really is true. Tomorrow, we conclude this study on how to enjoy your family. I pray that it is making a difference in your life and in your family. Remember, your home and family is the best place for God to show up and demonstrate Who He really is. Need help? Check out Mary’s resources on marriage, parenting and difficult relationships. If you need help dealing with the pain in your life, enroll in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study,How to Handle Hurtand learn how to face and deal with the pain in your life. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or throughemail.