Obviously, this week will be given to the exploration of topic of women in the work force. This discussion might lead to a significant prayer time for the women in your class who are working. Perhaps – a time to listen to their unique challenges and discover ways your class can support them. Also – it is an opportunity to learn to practice grace and patience because there is a wide variety of opinion on this subject.
“We Christians also tend, at times, to view women who are confident and successful in the workplace as less feminine, less submissive, perhaps even less godly than women in more traditional roles. As both sides run to Proverbs 31 to proof-text their choice, we must all admit that the virtuous woman is almost obsessively industrious, leading and serving inside and outside her household walls—as did Deborah the judge, Miriam, and Queen Esther, among other pillars of the faith. Because of these biblical models, and after my own decades of experience in churches, colleges, and businesses run almost exclusively by men, my advice to young Christian women is changing. I still encourage women in their homemaking lives, a life I am immersed in as well. But I also encourage Christian women to aspire to graduate degrees and positions of influence. It is clear to me that the church, the government, and the culture in general will not become healthier without the involvement of more women.”
– Leslie Leyland Fields, Can Christian Women Have It All? Debunking the Work-Life Balance Myth, Online article at Christianity Today, July 2012
One of the more controversial topics among evangelical Christians has to do with complementary roles in the family. This is particularly true with respect to women in the workplace. Some have concluded that “a woman’s place is in the home.” Others have proposed that women are to be welcomed and encouraged in the work force. Here in Proverbs 31, we read of a woman who is juggling the roles of wife, mother, family manager and business owner. We will learn the truths from this passage and apply them to the 21st century context.
WEEKLY READINGS OVERVIEW
The role of women in the marketplace has been a controversial topic in numerous cultures. However, in 21st century America, women are working in all sectors of our economy. More so than men, women experience distinct seasons in life. Depending upon the reality of life’s demands, a woman is often faced with questions and dilemmas that are not usually shared by her male counterpart. For example, the childbearing years often bring unique challenges to women with regards to career choices. As we read these passages this week, notice the significant roles played by women in the biblical narrative. Perhaps this week is a time to sincerely seek God’s guidance as you or the woman (women) in your life are attempting to manage numerous roles that may be challenging or conflicting. Let’s use this week to pray for the women in our church as they seek to fulfill the responsibilities of whatever season of life may be upon them.
ISSUES/QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS
1. The issue of women working outside the home is complex and can be laced with emotion. This topic is connected to issues like the background of a person’s religious upbringing, role models in families, biblical convictions and economic necessities. With that said, this is an opportunity for the church to be gracious to each other in conversation and dialogue.
2. Women face unique challenges in the workplace. This lesson offers an opportunity to discuss them and seek God’s guidance and the church’s support in the face of them.
3. What women have shaped your understanding of work, work ethic, giftedness for work and other work-related realities? Why have these women affected your views of these issues?