Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What do we manage?

Thought for the Day: One should not be assigned one's identity in society by the job slot one happens to fill. If we truly believe in the dignity of labor, any task can be performed with equal pride because none can demean the basic dignity of a human being. Judith Martin
The worthy woman in Proverbs 31 managed her husband's estate so well that he was enabled to fulfill his duties in the community. When I was a little girl, people largely saw her as a housewife. When I came of age, the view had changed, and people saw her as a woman with a career.

I'm not sure she fits either of those models exactly. While all of her activities were centered in her home, she did have some business dealings that grew out of her work in the home. Yet, she did not leave her home in order to establish herself a career, nor did she take her children out of the home so that she could accomplish this. This passage tells us that she had servants. If some of these servants helped to care for her children, these servants were in her home and in her presence. They were under her direct observation and direction. This is different than a day care situation.

She lived in an agrarian society and a society of small home businesses. In such an economy, the husband, wife, and even the children work together as an economic unit. Readers who live on a family farm can identify with her business dealings. Also, women who run cottage industries or who work from home will relate to her days.

The pattern of the worthy wife and her husband has been common to many centuries and many places. In the beginnings of the U.S., women often helped their husbands manage their estates so that the husbands could be either traveling preachers or statesmen. A good number of male historical figures that we Americans hold dear owe a lot of their success to the wives who were their partners in life. Instead of competing with each other for dominance and worth, husbands and wives of that time saw dignity in the respective roles they played. They sought to further their common interests as a family.

In today's world, we live in more urban environments. Yet, we can still learn from the marriage described in Proverbs 31. One woman whose example has impacted me was a woman who took a great deal of interest in her husband's work. She also reached out and was a mother to the young men and women who worked for her husband and also reached out to their spouses. She was a wonderful hostess and made all who entered her home feel welcome. She was truly one of her husband's greatest assets.

How do we apply the example in Proverbs 31 today? Whether or not you work outside the home, it's good to take a look at the areas of home management in which she excelled.

1) She was such a trustworthy manager that her husband trusted her with their property.
2) She brought her husband good all the days of her life. (In Acts, our Lord Jesus is spoken of as having gone about doing good. Tabitha is also mentioned as a disciple who did good.)
3) She knew how to choose quality goods and how to find raw materials that had quality. She knew how to shop for food for her household. She was a shrewd consumer.
4) She clothed her household.
5) She fed her household.
6) She planted a field and a vineyard. Why was this important? Wine was a staple in the home. It provided liquid and medicine. The field provided food. Since ancient Israel had no super grocery centers, she grew her own food and grapes for wine.
7) She was involved in caring for the poor and needy
8) She took care of her bed chamber and made it attractive
9) She presented herself well.
10) She taught with wisdom and kindness.
11) She maintained her relationship with the Lord and was a woman of strength and dignity.
12) She sold sashes, which was an extension of her home sewing. In other words, she brought in income to the family by being a seamstress.

What about you? What areas of the household do you manage?

Kathy Peel, who wrote the Family Manager, divides her home management in this way:

1) Time management: managing time and schedules -- getting the right people to the right places at the right time -- so that the household can run smoothly.
2) Food -- nutrition --
3) Home and Property -- overseeing the maintenance of her family's tangible assets, including personal belongings, the house, and its surroundings.
4) Finances
5) Special projects -- birthdays, holidays, garage sales, family reunions, vacations
6) Family members and friends -- dealing with family life and relationships and acting as teacher, nurse, counselor, mediator, and social chairman
7) Personal management -- growing and caring for herself spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

What about you? What are the different areas of your household that you manage? Do you home school? Do you have an at-home business or work from home job? Do you handle the checkbook? Taxes? Or, does your husband do these things? Do you care for extended family members or for older parents? Don't forget to add things like these into your list of home "departments".

You might want to write the areas you come up with down on a piece of paper to use in a home management notebook. Or, you might want to start a home management notebook on your computer and include these areas in a page there. You might also set up your actual or virtual notebook with dividers that are labeled according to the different areas for which you are responsible.

If you have a lot of responsibilities outside of your home, it's tempting to keep a separate management book or calendar for that. However, you're more likely to see the bigger picture of your life and to manage your life well if you stick to one management notebook or calendar.

If you're not the type who keeps up with a management notebook, at least do this exercise so that you can visualize the results in your mind.

A good family member needs to be balanced. Sometimes, we focus on what we enjoy -- say cooking -- and neglect other areas that need attention. If we are to be effective in managing our homes, we need to understand the different areas that fall under our management.

It's helpful to list these areas. Don't try to write down every little job on your to-do list. Instead, take a look at the broad categories that have to do with running your household well. Jot them down so that you can get a look at them on paper. Organize them how you see them. For example, you could label one area clothing management -- purchase, sew, clean, maintain.
Of, you might add a category concerning your family's health. The key is for you to have in mind the various aspects of your home. Confer with your husband to make sure that you are in line with his priorities and that you and he are united in the way your home runs.

Happy Home Keeping!


  1. Hi Elizabeth. I just got your comment. Thank you for stopping by. Funny thing is that we have the same middle name too. (The irony of it all!)

    I love your quote. One thing I did find is that in order for me to be a good helpmate for my husband I need to help him with the finances by bringing money into the home. Even the woman of Rubies sold her goods. So many forget that. I'm glad that you didn't.

  2. From one Sara Elizabeth to another -- I'm glad you stopped by. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!