Stop Trying to Be the Proverbs 31 Woman

Have you ever compared yourself to the Proverbs 31 woman? Here are my thoughts on why we should stop trying to achieve this perfection and what we should do instead!

 

If you’re a young woman associated with almost any Christian circle, you’ve probably been told at some point that the Proverbs 31 woman is what you should strive to be. And while the woman described in Proverbs chapter 31 is an excellent example to follow, maybe we shouldn’t be striving so hard to be just like her.

When we strive to be the woman described in this passage of scripture in our own strength, we actually cripple ourselves. When we pick a person in scripture to be like, we often lose some focus and suddenly find ourselves worn out from humanly trying to exemplify another human. We forget that we can’t do anything or become a better version of ourselves in our own strength; we need our Saviour to transform us.

In our pursuit of becoming the Proverbs 31 woman, we start the vicious cycle of comparison and find ourselves grossly inadequate. But…maybe we were never meant to be like her. Let’s look at some context here.

First, Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is a book of King Solomon’s wisdom. It’s full of advice for dealing with different relationships, as well as discernment and finding wisdom. At the very end of the book, we have a passage apparently written by Lemuel, who writes out an oracle his mother used to tell him.

Yep, Proverbs 31 was written to a man, not women.

The second part of this passage is actually describing the kind of women this woman’s son should be seeking for a wife. So yes, these are excellent virtues we should be seeking. But we cannot wear ourselves down trying to obtain the perfection described in this passage.

I’m not saying that we women should not seek to have the characteristics described in Proverbs 31, or that we can ignore that passage because it’s addressed to a guy. Definitely not! We don’t get to ignore passages of scripture simply because they don’t seem to apply to us. What I am asking is, are we looking at Proverbs 31 with the wrong perspective?

Rather than Proverbs 31 being the goal to achieve, it should be a guideline to use. What I mean is that though we will probably never achieve the perfection described in the passage, we should still seek those characteristics and work towards them in Christ’s strength. Proverbs 31 hurts us when we set standards for ourselves that we can’t achieve in our own strength.

In seeking to become a Proverbs 31 woman or wife, we can take our focus off of being like Christ. And when anything becomes a distraction from being like Christ, it is a stumbling block in our path.

However, we know that we can become worn out seeking to be like Christ in our own strength. The key to being successful in molding our hearts into that of Christ’s is allowing Him to do the work in our hearts. Just like looking to the woman described in Proverbs 31 as our example, we need to ask God to change and mold our hearts into ones that reflect His.

Have you ever compared yourself to the woman described in Proverbs 31? Did it help you or hinder you in your walk with Christ?

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What to Do if You Don’t Like Your Church

Today, a lot of churches seem to be out of touch when it comes to young people. The question is, what can we do if we don't like our church? Click here to find out!

In the last little while, I’ve seen a lot of blog posts popping up about how the church needs to do more to accommodate for the millennial generation, or why millennials are leaving the church. (You can check out one of these posts at Recklessly Alive–he has some good points!) I can understand why so many young people are looking at their church and wondering how they can get more out of it. I’ve made a list of some things you can do if you’re struggling with liking your church.

1. Check your motives & attitude.

The first thing we should be doing when we don’t like the church we’re at is look at ourselves before we look anywhere else. Ask yourself, why don’t you like your church? Is it a matter of the church or do your motives need to be checked? It’s important to make sure your reasons aren’t selfish. When your heart’s in the right place, you can start to look around.

2. Pray.

Seeking God’s will and listening to His voice is always important to do in every situation. What would God have you do? Take the time to tell Him of your struggles, then listen to hear what He would have you do. Does He want you to wait or begin to seek out a new local church? Ultimately, nothing will truly help your situation if you are not walking in His will.

3. Find a place to serve.

Every church has an area you can serve in, no matter what size it is. I’ve been a part of a smaller church (approximately 30 congregants at the time) and more medium-large churches (services of 300 attendants). In every church, there is always an area to serve—whether that’s helping out in the nursery or serving coffee after church; leading a group of youth or simply being an encouragement to those around you. There is great joy in serving. Christ Himself came to serve, not be served. If you’re feeling a little disconnected, getting involved is a great way to connect with others!

4. Find someone to mentor & disciple you.

Your pastor is only one person! Unfortunately, he probably simply doesn’t have time to take the time to mentor you individually. Because of this, it’s a great idea to find someone in your church who can mentor or disciple you. Find someone you admire, such as an older woman, and ask if she would be willing to mentor you—meeting together every now and then. Ask her to keep you spiritually accountable and pray for each other.

Take this one step further and find someone you can mentor. There are so many younger girls who are going through middle school and high school, trying to figure out the world of boyfriends, womanhood, and everything else life has to offer. By taking someone under your wing, you’ll not only be a help to them, but you’ll also learn and grow in your own spiritual walk.

5. Check your devotions and prayer life.

Church is great when it comes to corporate worship, fellowship with other believers, and learning. But it’s not meant to keep you going all week. If you’re feeling a little spiritually dry and believe your church is the problem, check again…it could be your personal prayer life. If you aren’t regularly spending time in the Word, you won’t grow closer to Jesus. Church isn’t meant to replace your own personal time with Jesus.

6. Look at your church.

Yes, evaluating your church is the last thing on my list. When I moved to a different city for my last year of school, my roommate and I began the oh-so-fun church hunt. We chose against some because there were no young people, and others because there were way to many (literally a few hundred university students). You should definitely look at your church and seriously consider whether or not it’s a good fit for you, but only after you check yourself. There’s no doubt that there are many different churches out there—churches with mostly older people, churches geared towards younger families; some churches are super-charismatic, while others are really structured.

Finding a church you’re comfortable attending is so important. The problem happens when we believe the church is there to serve us. The truth is, we are the church, and we are to serve each other. Let’s start being the change in our churches!

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Seeking God when He Seems Far Away

We've all had those mountain-top experiences. But what about when God seems to be far from us? How do we seek Him in those times? Click here to find out!

I loved going to youth conferences in high school. The bus trip, hanging out with friends, staying up late, great worship, amazing speakers. I would leave the youth conference so on fire for God, eager to love Him unconditionally and serve Him every day.

But inevitably, within the week, the spiritual “high” I was on would fade, and I would come down from the mountain to the plateau of everyday life. I was left wondering where my eagerness went, and if I was a bad Christian for being less interested in God.

The reality is that the Christian life isn’t supposed to be fuelled by these mountaintop experiences. There are lots of times of our lives during which God seems far away. The question is, what do we do when He seems to be far from us?

Spiritual check-up.

Whenever I realize that I’ve been drifting from God, I stop and take a look at my life lately. Have I been spending time in the Word? Have I been praying regularly? Am I taking time to worship and seek the Lord? If I’m not making an effort on my part, my relationship with God won’t grow. Great friendships happen when both people put an effort in; it’s the same with God. Yes, He loves us unconditionally, but my relationship with Him won’t mature if I’m not putting any priority on it.

Re-prioritize spiritual disciplines.

There have been so many times where I’ve felt distant from God, only to realize that I haven’t been in the Word for two weeks. Not spending time with God has an impact on our lives! When I make Jesus a priority again, He is able to reveal Himself to me and I’m able to grow closer to Him.

Spend time in prayer.

There have been times when I’ve found myself far from God because I’ve actually been walking away from Him. There are so many things that get between us + God—new relationships, school/work stress, pride, selfish desires, wrong choices. I have often wondered why I’m far from God only to realize that I’ve been making decisions based on my own wants, rather than His will from my life.

Ask God to show you areas in your life that you need to give back to Him. Before I can seek after the Lord, I need to come to Him with these things and confess them. When we make ourselves right with God (that is, accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and intervention for us before God), we are free to seek Him and grow in our relationship with Him.

Seek, and you will find.

James 4:8 says this:

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…

God does not withhold from us. When we pursue Him, He awaits us with open arms. He is waiting for us to return to Him, and He will meet us where we are. Next time you’re feeling far from the Lord, remember that He has not left. He loves His children and has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us.

Join the conversation! How do you seek God when you feel far from Him?

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Bible Study Tools: My Top 5 Essentials for Quiet Time

Are you overwhelmed by the number of Bible study resources available, or simply looking for a good place to start digging into God's Word? On the blog, I share my top 5 favourite Bible study tools! You can click here to read more!

Whether you’re a brand-new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for several years, Bible study is so important. But it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the number of resources and tools out there designed to help you study God’s Word. I’m a back-to-the-basics kinda girl, and I prefer studying the Word by itself to reading through a devotional. Reading books by Christian authors designed to help you grow in your faith is super valuable, but it still doesn’t replace time spent in God’s Word.

Today I’d like to share some of my favourite Bible study tools with you, as well as some tips to help you get more out of your quiet time!

1. My Bible.

I thought I’d start with the obvious: the actual Bible. Personally, I love my Thinline ESV Bible. I like the ESV version because it’s a word-for-word translation, rather than a phrase-for-phrase translation. The language they use is also great—it’s not too hard or too easy to understand.

Although it doesn’t matter what translation of Bible you use, it is important to use one you can understand and apply to your life. If you love the NKJV, stick with that! If you have an easier time understanding the NLT version, use it! Neither is wrong or right—as long as you’re understanding it, use whichever version you feel most comfortable with.

2. Coloured highlighters.

As I read through a Bible passage, I like to highlight. I use three different highlighters. I colour-code as I go to make it easier to find verses by topic. Yellow is basically anything that is important or spoke to me, pink is anything to do with God’s promises to me, and blue is for verses about God’s love for me (SO important to remember!). Although there are several different kinds of highlighters for Bibles, my favourite are these gel ones. 😊

If I want to make notes in the margins of my Bible, I use a pencil (I have commitment issues to using ink in my Bible…)

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3. A notebook.

I’m a journal-er. If I’m not writing down notes, verses that stuck out to me, or general thoughts, I feel like nothing I studied has really sunk in. Writing down what I’ve learned is a great way for me to reflect on the passage. In my notebook, I write down:

  • the date
  • what Scripture I’m studying
  • verses that stood out to me and why
  • prayer requests/notes
  • any other thoughts

Now, I do want to say this…journalling is not for everyone. Writing stuff down may not work for some people, and that’s okay! If having a prayer journal or notebook doesn’t help you retain God’s Word, don’t pressure yourself to do it. Bible study is about learning God’s Word and applying it to your life, not doing what everyone else seems to be doing.

4. Coloured pens.

Because I like to journal as I study the Word, I like to have pretty pens. I bought a package of multi-coloured Sharpie pens, and I love using them! I use different colours for headings, dates, and passages as I journal. Of course, plain ink works just as well. For a couple years I only used pencil, and the quality of my quiet time didn’t suffer at all. 😊

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5. My phone.

I know, I know…major distraction potential. But I can justify this. I promise.

I use my phone for a couple different things when I have my quiet time. The very first thing I do is put my phone on silent/do not disturb, and I place it face-down. This means that I won’t even be tempted to check what my friend just texted me, or who just commented on my Instagram photo. When I can’t see or hear my phone going off, I can focus on God. Satan will use every distraction to pull us from time in the Word, and I try to prevent that as much as possible.

Then I use my phone for two things: worship and study. I play worship music (softly!) on my phone in the background as I have my quiet time. But I have to be a little careful with my music choices. I love music, and sometimes my favourite jams end up being more distracting. No, Emily, now is not the time for a private dance party. I made up a worship music playlist on my phone, packed full of Hillsong, Bethel, and Chris Tomlin.

I also use my phone for different Bible studies. Currently, I’m working through IF:Equip’s Joshua study. Sometimes I used She Reads Truth as well. I love both of these communities and the study resources they provide!

Part of following IF:Equip’s study is the journalling aspect of my quiet time as well. For each passage you study, they suggest you journal three questions: 1) What does this mean about God? 2) What does this mean about me? and 3) What does this mean about the world? These questions help me to take what I just learned and apply it to God, myself, and the world around me. I use these questions even when I’m not doing my scheduled Bible study; they apply to any passage, which I love!

If you’re not into journalling, I would still encourage you to check out IF:Equip! They also have brief video discussions for each study, as well as a question of the day and a comment/discussion forum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into my Bible study time!

How do you study the Bible? What’s your favourite way to learn God’s Word?

 

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When Honesty isn’t the Best Policy

As Christians, we know that honesty is important. But is there such a thing as being too honest? Click here to read more!

Once at youth group, our youth pastor showed us a video of a young man standing in the streets of a large city, talking into a megaphone. He was calling the world out on their sins and threatening fire and brimstone to those who did not repent. There was a crowd around him, listening to what he had to say. Some were laughing at him, others were agreeing with him. But then one woman stepped out of the crowd and spoke to him with tears streaming down her face.

“I’m listening to what you’re saying, and it’s breaking my heart,” she tells him. She professes to be a follower of Christ, then shares that she is where she is because someone took the time to get to know her and love her, not because someone told her everything she was doing wrong.

The street minister explained that without knowledge of sin, there cannot be repentance, and that’s why he was doing what he was doing. At the end of the video, our youth pastor asked who we thought was right. And I really wasn’t sure.

On the one hand, Jesus didn’t sugar-coat sin. He called it what it was and demanded full repentance. We need to fully repent before we can accept healing from God and grow in our walk with him. But at the same time, Jesus did not shame everyone who came to him. He formed relationships and loved people right where they were at. He accepted a broken prostitute’s worship and assured a repentant thief of his salvation. So what’s the balance?

We need to stand up for our faith and say what we believe. But how are you doing that? Are you bringing up debates or disagreements with the hopes of bringing people onto your side? I have seen people start debates or arguments with non-believers to try to “witness” to them. But how many people do you know who have actually become a follower of Jesus Christ because they lost a debate?

Hold on. Jesus argued with the Pharisees and told them off and was honest with them! He said all kinds of things about their self-righteous ways.

I agree. Jesus did tell people off. There were many times when he was brutally honest with people who couldn’t get beyond themselves—people who were more concerned with their perfect reputation than the physical and spiritual welfare of others. Jesus had strong words for those who showed no love to those around them because of their own pride.

But to the broken-hearted, Jesus had a very different response. He healed them. He saw to their needs. He loved them. Ultimately, he died for everyone. He sacrificed for others. He did not pull aside the despondent and start a debate on the Law. He responded to debates brought to him with ultimate wisdom, but he also did not waste words with those who refused to listen.

As Christians and representatives of Christ, we are called to show love first. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is first to love the Lord our God and then to love our neighbours. If someone wants to start a debate with you or ask you a theological question, by all means, engage them in discussion. But when a debate starts to go in circles or is not getting anywhere, you may be wasting your words.

Paul encourages Timothy with the following words:

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:23 – 25)

We are also called to show love to others. Human beings are relational. We all need relationships and love and belonging. It’s how we were created. We can bridge the gap by extending friendship and giving of ourselves for the good of others. Ultimately, it was not Jesus’ wise words that saved the world, but his unconditional love and sacrifice by giving up his own life.

When talking to others about your faith, remember these words of Paul to the Ephesians:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

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