This Fall I was invited into a parenting group. The women were new acquaintances, but month after month, I am getting to know them a little better. Each is unique, authentic, and hard-working. All are loving moms with the similar desire of wanting the watchful eyes of the community on their kids as they navigate high school and beyond. Routinely, a few would have to leave for a conference call or a client meeting, and I started inquiring about their occupations. Without boasting, bragging, or big title dropping, I’ve discovered some of these new friends are powerhouses! Many are out-earning their husbands and a handful are the sole contributors to their families. I say this with awe, not based on their paychecks, but because of their humility and grace.
I’ve worked in some aggressive, male dominant, even chauvinistic work environments. While in these work roles, I witnessed women trying to emulate the men above them on the ladder, trying to crack the glass ceiling, fighting and shouting to be seen and heard, and doing so with a take-no-prisoners approach. I could quickly assess who would use my grit …and then spit me out.
My new friends’ personas are night and day in comparison. Sure, they are assisting with their households, carpooling, and grocery shopping. Yes, they have the achievements and credentials, the degrees, licenses, and certifications to hang on the walls, but their outlook and their approach are different. They love their jobs because they are more than their jobs.
They’ve used their talents to earn their stripes in their chosen careers, and along the way, they’ve realized there is more to life than their financial statements. Instead of burning the midnight oil more nights than not, they acknowledge human limitations. They value the gifts and opportunities given to them, using their time, treasure, and talent to influence areas beyond their 9 to 5. I admire that they don’t strive for recognition, even though each of them could capitalize on it from career accomplishments, as well as from their generosity. Choosing to live below their means and committing to tithing their resources, they quietly care for widows and orphans, the marginalized, the homeless. They aren’t doing these “works” trying to gain eternity; they confidently know they already have it. They do it because they desire to be part of Heaven every day, here on earth. Their paychecks are a means to help others, and giving all the Glory to God!
These modern-day Proverbs 31 women are counter-cultural… and inspiring. They are available, in the moment, doers, well-read, and are lovely to have a conversation with. More than their careers, more than being a mom, it is their faith that is the priority. Regardless of the job they do each day, regardless of the size of their paychecks, they are following Jesus. They don’t balk at submitting to their husbands, even if they are the breadwinners, because they have already submitted themselves to the Lord. (1 Peter 2:13, 3:1-8 ). Maybe they came to know Jesus early in life and never let go. Maybe all those years of having a front-row seat watching the old-boys network operate and being closed out of the men’s clubs, they understood the allure of wealth and achievement, as well as how difficult it is for the self-made to go through the eye of a needle (Mark 10:17-25). Looking at the options, they chose to emulate Someone better. I think that’s the secret sauce that creates peace within my new friends. The more I am around these Godly women, the more I understand that being a financial contributor is part of a woman’s spiritual DNA:
“Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” Luke 8:1-3
“Commentator Richard C. Blight explains who financed Jesus’ ministry: Jesus and His apostles would have a common purse of which all their expenses were paid and these women kept replenishing the purse. Mary (and the others) unselfishly used her wealth to continually back the Lord’s ministry. She helped fill the bank account, so to speak, of the Twelve. God had endless options. He could have employed other means to support Jesus and the Twelve – prosperous businessmen, miraculous bread from Heaven (Exodus 16:4; Nehemiah 9:15) – but He allowed women, working women to support the ministry.” (Vindicating the Vixens, Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible, p 264).
These first three simple sentences of Luke 8 are often overlooked, yet I want to scream them from mountain tops. How completely countercultural it would have been for Jesus to invite Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others, to join Him in ministry! He welcomed them into His inner circle. Jesus saw them as equally valuable. He built friendship and fellowship with them. He loved them well. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others chose to follow the True Leader. They experienced miracles, healings, and answered prayers. Because of their love, their loyalty, even though they were not in the limelight, their legacy is immortalized for all of us to know.
Can you imagine ministering alongside Jesus?
Can you imagine being known as a Patroness of Jesus?
You can. Today. Just like the living examples I found in my parenting group, you can be a modern-day, counter-cultural, humble, and generous minister of the Gospel.
Please pray with me …
Lord, thank You for imprinting hard work and generosity on our hearts and souls. Thank You for breaking cultural norms to list Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna in Your Word, so that we, their future generations, can know the hard and valuable work they did for, and with You. You knew their story would be needed then and today, and I appreciate Your nudge to have it captured as their legacy. Lord, You are blessing me with living examples to emulate and to encourage. Please have the Holy Spirit nudge more leaders to emulate the True Leader. Amen
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