I’ll admit that I have often read about the “highly praised” woman of Proverbs 31 and left feeling:
Intimidated – How does she DO all that she does?
Exhausted – How does she DO all that she does?
Overwhelmed – I could never DO all she does!
I have done wrongly by comparing myself with this woman in history. Instead, I’ve been trying lately to come to her description with more:
Humility – Scripture describes her as a woman worth emulating, so what can I learn from her?
Open-minded and teachable – (rather than dejected – I could never be like her! or critical – she needs more rest and margin in her life!) I can look beyond the fact that she made all her clothes and bed linens by hand and see a woman who believed in what she was doing.
Proverbs 31:17-18 in the Message version of the Bible describes her as such: “First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.”
She woke up energized to start her day because she saw the great value in her work.
In All Work There Is Profit
We all have been entrusted with work – a plot of land to plow, a portfolio of accounts to manage, a crew of little people to nurture, a congregation to shepherd. Proverbs 14:23 says,”in all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”
What work has God placed into your hand today? Do you know its worth?
Do you wake up in the morning filled with motivation and vision for the day ahead or do you find yourself beginning reluctantly: dreading the dilemmas, headaches, or arguments that may commence in your work space?
Vision for Our Work
At times, all work can be hard, difficult, and disappointing. You may feel like throwing in the towel and just giving up.
Maybe it is time for a change. But before you make that decision, pause and reflect. Ask yourself, “Why do I do what I do?” Is it to help or encourage others? To better an area of society? To serve your country? To extend a cause that is bigger than yourself that you truly believe in? To raise up the next generation to know and love God?
All these are great reasons, but the chief motivator for any of our vocations or work ought to come down to one main thing: We want to glorify God.
We may not have the leisure or opportunity to change career or life paths as readily as we may desire. But God assures us that “in all toil there is profit” and that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Motivation in the Mundane
Changing diapers, paying bills, typing documents, hosting meetings, changing sheets, doing taxes, cleaning toilets – all of us have a share of mundane but necessary duties assigned to us.
When we come to truly believe that we can glorify God in any task He has placed before us today, we will sense the worth of our work.
That means that in God’s kingdom, people who spend their days cleaning bathrooms can glorify God just as much as people who are feeding orphans in Africa or people who are working on Wall Street.
What matters is who we are doing our work for and in what spirit we go about our daily business.
As God instructed Samuel when he anointed young David to be the next king of Israel, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Let us trust God with the work of our hands today. Let us water and plant with hearts full of faith and vision that God will cause all things to grow beautifully in His time.
The world may not see the worth in your work. They may not value or esteem you, give you accolades or trophies or bonuses or raises.
But be assured that your work will have great worth and your life great meaning as you seek to keep your eyes on the Lord and work for Him alone.
The reward that comes from work done for Him will be eternal.
**For further reading on glorifying God at work, check out Keith Welton’s book, “Working for Glory: A Theology for Doing Work that Matters“