Stop Trying to Be a Proverbs 31 Woman (And Who You Should Be Instead)

You know her.

You may envy her. Perhaps admire her. Maybe even hate her.

But there’s no ignoring her: the Proverbs 31 Woman. The epitome of righteousness. The measuring stick many Christian women use to determine if they’re doing ok or not.

Stop trying to be a Proverbs 31 Woman (And Who You Should Be Instead)She’s considered by many a Christian superwoman. How can she not be when she makes her own clothes, keeps an immaculate house, cooks organic meals from scratch, and supports her husband’s public figure, all while wearing a perfectly-matched outfit and laughing all day?

It’s no wonder so many of us sag under the weight of such a burden.

Is God really calling us to live frazzled, sleep-deprived, guilt-ladden lives?

The Problem: Commercialized Righteousness

Guilt sells.

Make someone feel bad enough about themselves, and you can sell them anything. That’s how the fashion, diet, and technology industries all work: creating in us extreme dissatisfaction and then offering us a product to solve our problem.

In our case, the guilt is well-placed. We have all missed the mark of God’s righteousness. We fall woefully short of His standards of perfection.

And we need something–someone–to solve our problem. That Someone is Jesus.

Unfortunately, too many Christian women turn to the “Proverbs 31 Woman” instead.

Search Proverbs 31 on Amazon and you’ll find 10,779 books. Google returns 4,530,000 hits. And the internet is full of heartbreaking memes that speak to our discouragement when faced with the perfect P31 lady (like the one below).

Perhaps in our zeal for righteousness we have replaced our Savior with an idol.

The Solution: Stop Trying to Be Your Own Savior

Perhaps we’ve been reading this text all wrong.

Maybe, instead of reading Proverbs 31 as a manual of everything we ought to do to be righteous, we need to start with this key truth: Jesus paid it all so we can stop trying to impress Him and just be faithful where we are.

When God looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Jesus. If you’re a believer, that applies to you, too.

His Spirit within us brings us to a life of freedom and joyful obedience rather than dutiful observance of the law and multipliers. And while advice on how to raise our families may be helpful, nothing but Jesus’ sacrifice secures God’s favor and grace.

We do not earn God’s smile by our own works after we are saved any more than we did before we were saved:

  • God won’t be happier with you if you homeschool your children than if you send them to public school.
  • Your decision to eat grass-fed organic beef burgers on gluten-free buns with tomatoes and lettuce grown in your own garden won’t impress Him.
  • In fact, He doesn’t shower special blessings on women who quit their careers to stay home with their kids.

The truth is this: every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is available to every believer who walks in the Spirit, regardless of whether or not her lifestyle matches what the church at large promotes as the stereotypical righteous woman.

You can breathe easily now.

Instead of striving to become a “Proverbs 31 woman,” do this: accept the finished work of Jesus on the cross and be faithful where He has placed you.

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The Matthew 25 Woman

For as much attention as the church gives Proverbs 31, you’d think Jesus would be all over it, quoting the passage on His Sermon on the Mount, giving His disciples advice on how to find a “virtuous wife,” and praising Martha for her efforts to win Proverbs 31 Woman of the Year.

You might be surprised to find He doesn’t even mention the mythical woman.

Not. Once.

But He speaks a whole lot about His followers, male and female alike, being faithful to what God has called them to do.

In Matthew 25, He explains that followers of Jesus need to be responsible with the roles and resources they have, like the wise virgins (vv. 1-13) and the wise servants (vv. 14-30), which looks like serving those around us as if they were Jesus Himself (v. 40). There are many such parables and teaching moments throughout Jesus’ ministry.

It’s time we stopped reading Proverbs 31 as a Christian womanhood manual and started reading it for what it is: the cumulative picture of women who are faithful where they are.

As I read Proverbs 31 now, I picture all the different women represented in this chapter.

  • Some women are crafty and honor God with their sewing projects. …And some are not.
  • Some women are business-savy and make deals that make my head spin. …And some are not.
  • Some women are super-athletic and run marathons twice a year and eat only organic. …And some are not.
  • Some women are gourmet chefs and throw pinterest-worthy parties. …And some are not.
  • Some women are early birds and set their worlds in order by 7am. …And some are not.
  • Some women are night owls and stay up late into the night, buzzing with ideas and projects. …And some are not.
  • Some women are master planners and have their life goals, meal plans, holiday shopping, and bills all color-coded in a smartphone app. …And some are not.

And you know what? That’s ok.

You don’t have to be an indigo-copy of the mythical “Proverbs 31 Woman.”

The bottom line is not whether a woman is all of those things and more, but whether she is serving the people around her with her time, energy, and resources. When we reach the throne of God, He won’t ask us whether we crocheted, canned, or made a side income. He will ask us if we were faithful to serve where we were: our family, our neighbors, our coworkers, the homeless on the street corner, the widow in the grocery store, the pregnant teen, and any other person He places in our lives.

Stop trying to be someone you’re not and embrace the unique talents and gifts God has given you to serve Him right where He has placed you. (c.f. 1 Corinthians 14)

Simply be faithful. Rest in the finished work of Jesus. Celebrate your sisters who are gifted differently than you. Invite the Holy Spirit to continue molding you in the image of Jesus.

And rejoice in the sacrifice of Jesus that clothes you in His righteousness right now, just as you are.

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Comments 21

  1. Betsy

    Good words, Asheritah! Isn’t it true that we tend to use Proverbs 31 as a yardstick to measure ourselves with. I loved your summary of “some women…….and some do not.” We all have different talents and gifts, the important thing is using them to serve, as you say.

  2. Rachel Erickson

    The only thing I disagree with is the presentation of organic food as being healthier. It isn’t. You’d have to eat hundreds of servings of unwashed fruit or vegetables in a single day to even get close to consuming enough pesticide residue to cause any problems, and organic foods aren’t any more nutritious or better for the environment than conventional.

  3. Hannah

    This is so good! I love that you identify that guilt is being used to produce Proverbs 31 Women. That’s not going to get anyone the desired result! We are free! We have been gifted by the Holy Spirit. Instead of trying to live up to someone’s idea of what a “godly woman” looks like, we should be more concerned about our relationship with God, and why He has put particular strengths and passions in us, and what we should do with them! One thing i have realized lately is that we already are Proverbs 31 women, and the fun part is looking around to see all of the different types. Thanks for a great post!

  4. Gloria

    Well said !!!!
    It truly goes right along with the racism issue in a way. I love all your writings, but this has helped me sooo much. I deeply appreciate what needed to be said, and for all of us to see with our hearts the freedom of Christ. And you are so right, the Proverbs 31 woman has been taken out of context and commercialized into an idol…thank you so much for Gods Truth, our Righteousness in Christ. AMEN.

  5. MC

    I wish I could believe this. I wish I could.

    I can’t. I will never be pleasing to God, or Jesus, or my husband, or his parents.

    I will never be accepted in a Christian church.

    I will never be welcomed at the Feet of Christ (not even to carry away the wash water).

    I am a broken woman. A broken woman who saw her brokenness too late, after she had already become a wife and a mother.

    I am a defrauder of men, because my husband saw me as whole until long after we were married with children.

    I am IRREDEEMABLY DAMNED.

    1. Post
      Author
      asheritahc

      Dear MC, you are loved by Jesus and you are not beyond redemption. Jesus came for the sick, for those of us who could never help ourselves, never forgive ourselves, never lift up our heads in public. He welcomes you with open arms. Make a move toward Him today, and see if He doesn’t respond. Much love to you!

      1. Michelle

        The entire Bible is filled with instructions we struggle to align ourselves with. I see Proverbs 31 no differently.

        I do see this passage as something to aspire to become. I see myself as this already. I also believe that this woman, in all of her splendor, had a team to support her.

        And here lies the rub. So often we fail to support one another. Here is the challenge: Can we, as beautifully blessed women Christ, get to a place where we support each other? Will we choose to fast and pray for each other? Will we offer kind words of wisdom in support of our sisters? Will we cheer for our sisters in celebration of their success?

        If the answer is yes, then being a Proverbs 31 woman is absolutely attainable.

        Shalom!

        Apostle Michelle

    2. Michelle

      God does His best work in people that believe they are beyond hope! You are simply in need of God…just like many of us that at one time saw ourselves unworthy and beyond repair.

      Nothing is too hard for God. There is no person that He will turn away when they come to Him for help.

      God loves you!

    3. Christy

      MC,

      Please KNOW the Truth, that you are Loved and Cherished by God.
      “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
      And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders
      and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
      I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
      “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
      And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’
      In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:4-10.
      You are the sheep and the coin! The ground is level at the foot of the Cross — all sin is equal. I know I am loved and yet I am an adulter, fornicator, lier, thief, murderer – all washed clean by his blood. Have hope in His Love, dear one.

    4. Susie

      MC,

      I know you wrote this comment a long time ago, but I am just seeing it today and you have touched my heart deeply with your comments.

      God has been gracious enough to help me understand that there is NO gradient to sin – one sin is no better or worse than an other. A conversation full of gossip is just as sinful as taking the life of another. We are all unworthy of the love of Christ – yet He still came and was obedient to the cross so that we CAN be forgiven and redeemed.

      I am praying for you today. Praying that over the days and weeks since you posted this message, you have been comforted by God. That He has made himself known to you and showed you how compassionate and kind He is. God is not about condemnation and making you pay a price for your choices. He is all about wanting you to stop and listen… and take a step towards Him to allow Him to love you, heal you, welcome you and strengthen you.

      May the Lord bless and keep you as you go forward. I would love to be in touch with you directly if you are interested.

      With the love of Christ,

      Susie

  6. Angela Burton

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this passage. It was very encouraging and put much nicer than what I used to say about it. I would always tell myself that it was written by King Solomon and he had 700 wives and it probably took all of them collectively to equal the one he described. That’s how I coped because I fell flat on my face coming out of the starting gate on trying to be like that woman. I knew from the get go it was never going to happen and I made peace with that a long time ago 🙂

  7. Barbara

    Just found your blog. As a Jewish convert to Christianity, I have to say that I always found the evangelical fixation on the Proverbs 31 woman to be somewhat misplaced. Proverbs 31 is the model for the perfect JEWISH woman, whose religious role is to run a kosher household and raise the children so that her husband can fulfill his religious role as a student of Torah. But there are important things she never does–she doesn’t study Torah herself, she doesn’t go to the synagogue, she doesn’t set aside prayer time (though she does fear the Lord). Look at the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is very busy being the Proverbs 31 woman, but Jesus says that “Mary has the better part.” In traditional Judaism, women have an important –but clearly subordinate religious role. Every devout Jewish man, when he rises in the morning, recites a prayer in which he thanks God that he was not born ” a slave, a woman or a beast.” It is Jesus who calls women to a full life in Him, not the authors of the Psalms. Psalm 31 is beautiful, but it is a false template for women who love their Risen Lord.

    1. Post
      Author
      asheritahc

      Hi Barbara! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Your words have stayed with me over the last few days. Truly, Jesus came to erase the stigma of being a woman that has existed in many cultures. He has set us free to fully emody what it means to be human (created in His image) and woman (displaying a specific aspect of His character). What a beautiful picture.

  8. k

    this was very good and I agree on the fact that we must be faithful to God, it is extremely important that we are, but the whole point of proverbs 31 is a guideline to show woman what God calls them to be, and because we are not perfect we will NOT be able to follow all of these, and that is okay, he still loves you. It is a form of worship when we do those things, and it glorifies God. Proverbs 31 cannot be overlooked merely because King Soloman wrote it because he didn’t. God breathed the scripture and God would not tell you to do something wrong.
    Sure, it sometimes is used as a idol and people worship being perfect and godly rather than God, but the idea of following that scripture and honoring God while doing it should not be abandoned or the cause of anger. Be what God calls you to be.

  9. Anne Marie

    Oh my goodness, I woke up this morning listing my dreams and feeling my failures. I’m 35 with 5 children, ages 8-16, and as hard as I try, life is just complicated! So I re-read (again) Proverbs 31. Searching online for inspirations images to serve as visual encouragement, I came across this post. I cried through the entire read. THANK YOU for setting me free! I’m so glad I listened to the Holy Spirit’s prompting which led me to you. I’ve been so blessed. ♡

    1. Post
      Author
      asheritahc

      Oh Anne Marie, I’m so glad you found comfort in Jesus. He came to set us free from these self-salvation projects so that we can rest in His finished work on the cross. Praying that you find renewed joy in serving Him where He has placed you, with all your precious ones and all the dreams He has placed on your heart. Much love, Asheritah

  10. Alicia

    Another good thing to keep in mind is that Proverbs 31 is written as an acrostic. So not a checklist of things expected but a piece of creative writing-words specifically chosen to fit the acrostic. From the Bible Gateway footnotes “Proverbs 31:10 Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.” Just some food for thought. 🙂

  11. Miz P

    wow…wow…i also used to think like that. i am not married yt but i ve being reading it over and over to be jist like that woman before i get married.sometimes i sit picturing what exactly the verse is trying to see. but just reading your enligtenment says Be Faithful. nothing you do will impress God but our faithfulness. God bless. I will be faithful where I am.God bless you and bible nd breakfast has been fun. Thanks.

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