If you are a woman in the workplace, you may be wrestling with a number of challenges, from finding your voice as a leader and dealing with workplace discrimination, to managing parenthood and establishing a healthy rhythm of work and rest. What biblical wisdom can women draw from to meet today’s workplace challenges?
In Proverbs 31, Lady Wisdom (who appears at the beginning of Proverbs (1:20-33)), appears in street clothes as a “valiant woman (DRA).” The text focuses on her work as an entrepreneur with a cottage industry and workers to manage. She is the wise manager of diverse enterprises ranging from weaving and wine-making to trading.
Translators variously use the words “virtuous” (KJV), “capable” (NRSV), “excellent” (NASB), or “of noble character” (NIV) to describe this woman’s character in Proverbs 31:10. But these terms fail to capture the elements of strength and might present in the underlying Hebrew word (chayil). When applied to a man, this same term has been translated “strength,” as in Proverbs 31:3. In a great majority of its in the Old Testament, this word applies to fighting men. “Valiant” is one good way to put it.
To some people in biblical times, portraying a woman as a model of entrepreneurship would have been surprising. Even though God gave the gift of work to men and women equally, women’s work has often been denigrated and working women have been treated with less respect than men. The “valiant woman” functions as an affirmation of the dignity of every person’s work.
In this reading plan, you will learn what the Bible has to say about some of the challenges working women face. You will learn that the God who was with the “valiant woman” of Proverbs 31 is with you.
Lord, thank you that you affirm the dignity of all people. Be with me in the troubles and trials of my workplace, as well as its victories and joys. Help me to fear you and you alone. Amen.
For further exploration, read the Theology of Work Bible Commentary on Proverbs 31.