In part 1 we talked about how God has given us influence over the most important establishment in all of society, the home. And in part 2 we discussed the value of hospitality and how to be strategic in hosting others. Now, let’s look at what the Bible has to say about commitments outside the home.
This is not a black and white issue and therefore requires some discussion. We cannot and must not make rules where God has not made them. And no where in the Bible does it say that a woman cannot work and earn money. But as we discussed in earlier, God has clearly ordained for women to be the overseers of the home. With that in mind, let’s look at a few passages of the Bible for some guidance.
Proverbs 7:11-12 says of the adulterous woman, “She is loud and wayward, her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.”
In contrast the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:27 is said to “look well to the ways of her household and not eat the bread of idleness.”
Proverbs 14:1 states: “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”
NOT JUST JOBS, BUT ALL COMMITMENTS
If you’ll notice, none of the above verses deal with jobs. They deal with the attitude toward the home. This is not an issue of payment, but rather of priority. All women should be mindful of these words, regardless of whether or not a paycheck is involved. There are many ways to be busy outside of the home to the detriment of the family, be it a career, a blog, a busy social life, a hobby, or even a ministry. None of these are intrinsically bad, nor improper to engage in. But, at the end of the day, what matters is how it affects the home, the most important establishment in our society.
As discussed in part 1, your primary place of influence and responsibility is within the home. This means the flourishing of your family is your responsibility. It’s worth considering how heavily career-focused our culture is and what effect this may have had on how you think about work. (See also the section on the impact of feminism in “Biblical Womanhood.“) Of course, there is nothing innately wrong with working outside the home (see Proverbs 31:16, 20, 24), but too often we cling tightly to a job because of its cultural importance.
Another reason we might hold onto things outside of the home is they give us significance. We all want to feel good about ourselves, be paid attention to, and be appreciated. And the task of managing a home doesn’t bring much thanks and, by nature, is repetitive and menial. Though investing in the home has weighty and eternal significance, it is a “marathon” investment. And there are many other avenues where our skill sets can be used with immediate payoff. So the question is, how do you know when and if it’s right for you to say yes to commitments outside of the home?
SHOULD YOU WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME?
Below are some questions to help you evaluate whether a commitment outside the home is right for you. Keep in mind that this applies to other non-payment related opportunities outside the home such as volunteering, ministry opportunities, and social commitments.
Why are you working/desiring to work?
- Is the income essential to meet needs or wants?
- Is working a way to escape or avoid other higher priority responsibilities, such as raising children, discipleship, etc?
- Is a job or career filling a need for satisfaction or approval that should be found in Christ alone?
- Does your husband approve of and encourage you to work? Or does he disapprove yet allow it anyway?
- If God asked you to walk away from your job to care for your family full time, would you be ok?
Can your home flourish while you are working?
- What responsibilities will be compromised by working?
- How does your family feel about you working?
- Can you be excellent in flourishing your home while working? Or are you just “getting by” at home?
- If you are already working, take an honest assessment of your home by talking with each member family. Some helpful questions to ask them are:
- Do you feel valued and cared for by me?
- Do you look forward to coming home?
- How do you feel about my job?
- Is my attitude toward you better or worse since I am working?
- Do you feel you are thriving, spiritually, emotionally, and physically? If not, is that related to things I am or am not doing? How could I help facilitate your growth in those areas?
HOW TO FLOURISH YOUR HOME WHILE WORKING
If you decide working outside the home is best, remember that you are no less responsible to oversee the health of your home. Be strategic in leveraging your remaining time and resources for the sake of your household. Below are some helpful questions to consider:
- Can you choose when your work hours will be? If so, consider when is best time to work with the least negative effect on your home.
- What is the best use of your more limited time at home?
- Is there anything you can cut out to maximize time at home? (Ex: hobbies, entertainment, social engagements, etc?)
- Can any of the additional financial income be used toward delegating other household responsibilities to free you up to care for the deeper needs of your household? (Ex: a cleaning service or more easily prepared, ready-made meals) Delegating is better than attempting to do everything yourself while burning out and becoming irritable toward your family.
As the lives of those within your home change, adjust with them. Working outside the home may fit well in one season but not another. Make efforts to regularly check your heart motives and the spiritual and emotional “climate” of your home so that working doesn’t become a mindless habit, but an intentional effort.
WHY IT MATTERS
The home is the fundamental establishment of any society. Like the rudder of a ship, the condition of the homes will steer the direction of the nation. The home is where future world leaders are molded, where brilliant minds are nurtured, where world views are established. Any investment made in the home has ripple effects that last for generations.
Work and ministry outside the home usually seem like the more important task. But that is not true. It is foolish for us to forsake vital investments in the home just because that’s what our society does or that’s what makes us feel good. Find ways, in whatever season of life you’re in, to make investments in the establishment of the home. And weigh every opportunity outside of that with gravity and wisdom and faith. Let’s change the world through our homes, one person at a time!