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Thursday, May 31, 2007

What Does Your To-do List Look Like?

We’ve all probably seen the media portrayal of the average American housewife. She begins her morning with a brisk game of tennis at the country club. The rest of her day is spent shopping and eating lunch with friends. At home, she kicks up her feet, watches her favorite soap operas while squeezing the centers of chocolates in a Whitman’s Sampler box. Or perhaps she spends her day lounging in her pajamas, talking on the phone with friends while shushing her noisy kids in the background. Does either of these scenarios describe your day?

The world’s perception of a housewife, or homemaker, is far different than the way our Creator designed this very important role. The word “homemaker” conjures up an image of an unintelligent, lazy woman who is incapable of doing anything else with her life. A “career” as a homemaker is on the bottom rung of life’s ladder to success. But what should a homemaker’s purpose be and what should she do with her time? A godly homemaker’s to-do list may look something like this:

  • Willingly work with hands (Proverbs 31:13).
  • Bring food from afar (Proverbs 31:14).
  • Provide food for household (Proverbs 31:15).
  • Carefully consider purchases (Proverbs 31:16).
  • Help the needy and poor (Proverbs 31:20).
  • Provide clothing for family (Proverbs 31:21).
  • Watch over household (Proverbs 31:27).

Fulfilling a Purpose

The worthy woman in Proverbs 31 has a purpose. She is busy with activities far different than the fictitious homemaker we see on television. The godly woman does not "eat the bread of idleness." Instead, her schedule begins before the sun comes up and extends beyond the night – an expression that indicates a strong work ethic.The Scriptures emphasize the woman's role as a wife, mother, and worker in the home and warn of the danger of living a sedentary or hyper-recreational life.

Paul’s description of the older widow in 1 Timothy 5:9-10 and subsequent instructions for younger widows are very revealing. The older widow is known for her good works, has raised children, lodged strangers, washed the saints’ feet, and relieved the afflicted. She has “diligently followed every good work” (verse 10). Younger widows are encouraged to remarry, have children, and manage the house. Far from wandering aimlessly around the house, the godly homemaker finds purpose in taking care of her family and serving others.

Taking a Break

Being an industrious homemaker does not necessitate eliminating recreational activities. And how active we are may depend on our physical health. While hobbies and activities shared with friends often provide a much-needed break from housework, a godly woman is not called to a life of non-stop recreation. Managing a home requires time, hard work, and motivation.

Women are motivated to become homemakers for a variety of reasons. Some may view staying at home as an opportunity to spend an inordinate amount of time on hobbies or pleasure. The flexibility a homemaker enjoys can also be a curse when it tempts her to become lazy. Paul describes such a woman when referring to the plight of some younger widows: “And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13). When my children were little, I had a neighbor who was the epitome of Paul’s description. She literally roamed from house to house in our neighborhood on a daily basis while plates of half-eaten meals sat on her family room floor.

Understanding the Proper Motivation

What is the godly woman’s motivation for becoming a homemaker? The Proverbs 31 woman seeks to “do good” for her husband and to “watch over the ways of her household.” This indicates a motivation driven by her love for her family and a desire to serve others. We, too, should pursue our daily tasks with the same motivation. Ultimately, we strive to be productive in our homes because we are serving the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

The role of homemaker blesses a woman with an opportunity to serve. However, if we are not careful, we may find ourselves spending hours running the recreational circuit instead. God has chosen women to fulfill a wonderful and much needed role in this life. Are we making God's choices ours?