"Single" Sisters in the Workplace
Monday Night, April 3, 1995
She looks for wool and flax and likes to work with her hands.
She is like a trader’s ship, bringing food from far away.
She gets up while it is still dark and prepares food for her family and feeds her servant girls.
She inspects a field and buys it. With money she earned, she plants a vineyard.
She does her work with energy, and her arms are strong.
She knows that what she makes is good. Her lamp burns late into the night.
She makes thread with her hands and weaves her own cloth.
She welcomes the poor and helps the needy.
She does not worry about her family when it snows, because they all have fine clothes to keep them warm.
She makes coverings for herself; her clothes are made of linen and other expensive material.
Her husband is known at the city meetings, where he makes decisions as one of the leaders of the land.
She makes linen clothes and sells them and provides belts to the merchants.
She is strong and is respected by the people. She looks forward to the future with joy.
She speaks wise words and teaches others to be kind.
She watches over her family and never wastes her time.
Her children speak well of her. Her husband also praises her, saying,
“There are many fine women, but you are better than all of them.”
Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you, but a woman who respects the LORD should be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned; she should be praised in public for what she has done (Proverbs. 31:13-31).
(Instructions regarding currently unmarried women that are young) “I want them to… marry, have children, and manage their homes. Then no enemy will have any reason to criticize them” (1Timothy 5:14).
“In the same way, teach older women to be holy in their behavior, not speaking against others or enslaved to wine, but teaching what is good. Then they can teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be wise and pure, to be good workers at home, to be kind, and to yield to their husbands. Then no one will be able to criticize the teaching God gave us” (Titus 2:3-5).
“She must be known for her good works—works such as raising her children, welcoming strangers, washing the feet of God’s people, helping those in trouble, and giving her life to do all kinds of good deeds” (1Timothy 5:10).
Hello : ) Regarding the single sisters, whether widowed or still single for Jesus’ sake unless he provides a husband of His choice: “What is their obligation in regard to bearing their own burdens in a Believer’s home that has brought them in? Should they pay rent? Should they be in the workplace in order to make wages to support themselves?” These are good questions and ones that have been raised for various reasons over time.
In a recent conversation with a couple of single sisters currently working professional jobs in the marketplace, the whole topic was best likened to the “square peg in a round hole” syndrome.
“What are the qualifications of Elders in a standard 20th century ‘church’?” one may ask. There ARE NO qualifications for Elders in a standard Sunday-go-to-meeting, clergy/laity version of “church.” Why? Because there is no church truly present in most all cases. There are likely to be some Christians there, but the definition of Church in God’s Mind has virtually no resemblance to the things happening today. Little daily relationship with one another, filled to the brim with undealt-with “leaven,” a high percentage of the influential members are likely not even saved by Jesus’ definition. These and many other factors make it impossible to apply the “qualifications” in 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1 to the present situation. It would be like speaking Polish in Mexico. It simply cannot apply because the vast majority of the words don’t make any sense in the radically different environment than the original source. A “square peg in a round hole” problem. “You can’t get there from here.”
Should a christian woman wear a one-piece bathing suit at the beach with selectively placed ruffles rather than a two-piece bathing suit? Perhaps she has no business being at a place where everyone is wearing their underwear in public in the first place. Perhaps we are asking the wrong question; we are trying to paint and detail a car that has no engine.
To consider the role single sisters may play in a household of Believers? Or a single sister living with other single sisters, or alone? Important questions. Maybe we should back up a little more and consider the CONTEXT of life as God meant it to be in His Kingdom, where He “sets the lonely in Families.” (The tendency is often to try to fix small details in our lives, without considering that we may be unknowingly saturated with the “patterns of the world” and the “traditions of men.”) I know that looking for God’s Highest is what we all want to do. Many have taken great strides for Jesus’ honor, in the direction of dying to self-life and love of the world. So, in this subject as well it would be healthy for us to go back to the Roots of His Heavenly Kingdom and Plan and see what we can find. As we cooperate more and more, invest more and more in His Economy, we will find more and more of the Blessings of “On Earth as it is in Heaven!”
I don’t really want to say too much about what God may have in mind here about the sisters’ role as I am not entirely certain of all aspects, either. But I do know a couple of things. First of all, the young women, whether single or married or widowed are to be quite occupied with prayer and doing good. THIS is what the Scriptures describe as their Calling. They are Called by Jesus, their Messiah, to be busy and loving, kind and industrious in the home, creative and joyful. Whether single or married or widowed, there should be an order in God’s House where they have men in their lives that watch over them and protect them, provide for them and provide leadership. “Feed and care for” and ultimately “give an account for.”
I wonder if we have not, as I have suggested earlier been sold “a bill of goods” in assuming that a woman should be out in the marketplace earning “a living.” Perhaps, to take a look at how to get the round peg in the round hole, we should reconsider how much responsibility we men should take for seeing to it that the young ladies do not NEED to be in a pagan men’s world attempting to earn a wage. Perhaps we should be seeing to it that, as far as lies within us we allow the women to work hard amongst us in ways that do not require them to be in the middle of a “perverted generation.”
Certainly, there is a context for a woman to be “a seller of purple” and “with money she has earned, plant a vineyard” WITHIN a life that is not forcibly independent in the “wicked and corrupt generation” in which we live! In other words, an industrious woman working within FAMILY LIFE is of great worth. A woman that is forced to provide for her own means via some career path, whether white or blue collar, service industry or otherwise, is a “statement” of a kind that I have grown to dislike greatly.
While a young woman IS to be a hard worker, and a lover of prayer and God’s Work, it seems to me that the Work that God has for her, as I have seen God’s Heart, is within the context of Family Life and involvements, as opposed to working as an employee in the marketplace, outside of the Saints’ lives for large blocks of time. Working with Saints in a company, riding with them, lunching with them, within the love and care of God’s Family, or working a job that does not require an interface with pagan men (a home computer-related means of income is one possibility of many)—these things can work if God authors them specifically. However, for the most part, I am more and more convinced as the years roll by that we men have not loved and cared for our sisters with God’s sensitivity all that much. We have, in many areas (and maybe this one also) simply accepted the empty traditions handed down by our forefathers. We have, it seems to me ASSUMED that the greed and fear-driven patterns of the world regarding young women in the marketplace are fine with God. We simply need to “put the ruffles in the right place” (try to modify the situation to attain the lesser of multiple evils) and everything will be okay. An honest mistake for the most part, but I’ve seen a large need to change my way of thinking from my past insensitivity.
There are so many different levels of this insensitivity that have smothered us. In Sao Paulo, Brazil we met some saints that needed to ride the public bus (they thought) in order to meet together with other saints in the evening. A young sister would often ride the bus alone through the most murderous districts of this decadent city at one o’clock in the morning. Two other brothers rode as far as they needed to ride in order to get to their home, and then left her to fend for herself for the last half of the lengthy ride. They HONESTLY had never given a thought to the fact that they might have ridden the entire journey with her, and then backtracked to their home after she was safely home. Their response (to discussing this need to love and cover the women that God has brought into our lives) brought a mixture (as far as my understanding of what was happening in Portuguese would allow) of emotions—horror that they had not been caring for her, AND the uncomfortable thought that they would be inconvenienced with loss of sleep and other factors in order to get her home. AMAZING how the battle generally always ends up being with the sinful nature, not simply our knowledge!
And so it is with our present topic at hand: caring for the single sisters amongst us. Some of this battle will be with our flesh, not our knowledge. Since the single women are not yet 60 years old in most cases, the blessing of meeting their needs is upon individual families in the church. We CAN help the sisters to order their lives in such a way as to be hard workers amongst us, and “bear their own burdens,” and yet keep them out of the pagan’s marketplace. This opportunity is met in a wonderful way by individual families, and caring, sensitive friends in the church (rather than a church-wide provision in a programmatic sort of way). I don’t honestly consider a sister as one that should be charged rent, or one that should pay for meals (except in a rare case that irresponsibility or presumption or laziness require difficult and unusual measures). We should not force situations where she feels obligated to go into the world system to support herself. Of course, out of the love of her heart and for Jesus, she should be a wonderful giver in every way in the home, and even financially bless her family and others whenever and however possible. While there will always be anomalies to keep us humble and in prayer, I remain convinced in my spirit that this is the best and highest Way.
I hope this is helpful to the specific questions that you have, and I would be glad to discuss what I can about particular situations that aren’t easily deciphered in this complicated, fallen world that we live in. : )
In Christ Jesus, Mike