“…and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31: 15.
So often we study the Proverbs 31 woman and then sit in awe or defeat. We compare ourselves to her, a lifetime of achievements and qualities captured in 21 short verses. We lose perspective.
This woman of God lived a life well lived. She was blessed, praised and honored. She did much. She ran multiple businesses, she managed family finances, she took care of herself physically and emotionally. She provided for her family. Her days started early and ended late. But more than what she did, which is where we often focus, we need to consider who she was. We should study to learn about her qualities, not her achievements.
We have already discussed that she was pure, trustworthy, loyal, industrious, and thrifty. Most of all we know she feared the Lord and sought His guidance daily, hourly. It is in the seeking to know who she was that we will find the lessons He has for us.
I have often joked about verse 15. Before children, when I was working 60+ hours a week, volunteering in my community and with our youth group at church, I had a housekeeper. In fact we had her for 16 years. She became our friend, an extension of our family. Her daughter grew up in front of us. We shared laughs, tears, trials and joys. I was blessed to have her help, her friendship. On occasion, my husband would question our need for her. (You see I am one of those people that would clean up to get ready for the housekeeper. I know. That’s a whole other discussion.) On more than one occasion I would whip out Proverbs 31:15 to justify my decision. I mean after all if this revered woman in scripture clearly had maidservants, then I should most certainly follow suit. So there you have it ladies. Having a housekeeper is indeed biblical!
Well, remember that thing called perspective? In deed the Proverbs 31 had maidservants. She lived in a day and time that financially, politically was one of the darkest and most difficult times in Israel. Families often found themselves unable to provide for their children, thus abandoning them or selling them. Recurring battles and plunder left many children orphaned. Living in a trade community there we enslaved girls brought in and sold or traded, some even abandoned after the merchants were finished with them. Yes, human trafficking existed even then. As such, families who were able, families who felt compelled to help, would take young boys and girls in as bond servants, offering them safety, shelter and provisions.
The Proverbs 31 woman also had need for help. Again, due to the times, life was difficult. Much was required if one was to have food and provisions. It required sacrifice, planning, diligent labor, ingenuity and physical strength. It would have been virtually impossible to do it alone.
While I’d like to stick with the whole “having a housekeeper is biblical” thing, the real lesson is so much more. It’s not about the housekeeper/the maidservant. Again, it is about who the Proverbs 31 woman was. She was wise. She spent time considering all that she had and needed. She sought God’s counsel as she attempted to plan for the future. She was confident enough to know she could not do it all, she could not be all. She knew what and when she needed to delegate. She saw her plenty and knew she was called to serve, to rescue, to help. She provided for her maidservants as she did her family.
This woman did not live in abundance. She had plenty. But even the plenty she was willing to share, with her maidservants (vs 15) and with the poor and needy (vs 20). It wasn’t about having more for the sake of having more. It was about having plenty/enough and being willing to stretch that to help meet the needs of others.
This woman did not work from a place of pride. She was humble. She sought to work hard, give her best, yet she knew and accepted what she could not do. A part of her resourcefulness was knowing what to delegate and to whom. Once she chose to delegate, she then taught/trained those whom she sought help from. Her ways were gentle. She worked alongside them. She cared for them.
So many lessons for us. When I seek help am I doing it to stretch my plenty or to obtain abundance? When I seek help do I humbly come alongside that person teaching/training and working alongside? Do I use the extra time afforded me by having help to do something worthwhile? Do I look for the needy and offer them help?
I don’t have a housekeeper any more. Some days I miss her terribly. But finances changed, my work load lightened, my daughters grew and the wiser choice was to take our plenty and use it wisely. I now delegate to my daughters, working alongside them to train them and teach them how to care for a home, provide for a family and serve others. We open our home to serve others. We look for opportunities to help meet needs in our family, church and community.
We all live in different circumstances. Our plenty is different for each of us. And some of us our blessed with abundance. Remember, to that one, much is expected. Having help is important. Knowing what and when to delegate is critical. Let’s remember those lessons from the Proverbs 31 woman. Let’s dig deep and look at who she was, not just at what she had or did. In the end it is all about stewardship. Stewardship of our time, our resources and our plenty.