What is the difference between men’s work and women’s work? Is there a difference?
I had a reader ask me about the difference of “men’s work” and “women’s work” awhile back, and after some conversation on the subject, I promised to put a few thoughts into a post.
There is so much confusion surrounding this topic. We want to follow God’s plan for our womanhood, but problems happen when we start taking our cues from pop culture, or conservative culture, or any culture or group.
First, I want to share with you a few resources on this topic:
-The book Girl Defined (find it here) has THE BEST explanation I have ever read on what Biblical Womanhood really is. They do a fantastic job explaining some core truths about womanhood and how that relates to our work and relationships. I highly recommend this book for all women!
-My post “Hard Workin Gals: Should Christian Girls Have Jobs?” explores why hard work and earning income is totally Biblical.
-The initial comments that sparked this post:
“Hi Allison! It was interesting for me to hear that you have done landscaping work! My oldest brother owns and runs a landscaping business and I am able to help him out (and earn a paycheck by doing bookkeeping and making lunches. However, my brother prefers that I not get out and work with him on the job for several reasons: femininity, “gender roles,” and the overall hard and strenuous nature of the labor. He does occasionally ask me to help him with a big planting job, but I’m wondering what sort of landscaping work you did?? Also, how did you get your violin students? I play violin and would like to begin teaching, but I don’t really want to advertise??? Thank you for your advice!” -Clara
And my comment in response:
“Hi Clara! How great that you get to work for your brother! In answer to your question: I worked for a professional landscaping company. Being a farm girl, I have always loved dirt, heavy lifting, and hard work. Some days my landscaping work included lighter jobs such as pruning and planting small annuals, but many days I was digging out or planting larger plants or small trees, or lifting and applying many bags of mulch. I remember one particular day when I lifted out of the truck and transported to the gigantic flower bed several hundred 30 pound bags of mulch. I loved it!
I never felt at the least as if my femininity was at risk with a job that included hard manual labor. I think that in the Proverbs 31 woman we see that physical strength is actually virtuous. I would encourage you to do a study of that chapter. You might be surprised to see the physical strength and business savvy of this woman given to us for an example. I don’t think that hard physical labor is blurring the gender roles or damaging our femininity at all! I encourage girls to workout and embrace physical strength, not in an obsessive way, but in order to be strong, sturdy women who will be up to whatever challenge comes their way!
I hope that answers your question!
And now, for some additional thoughts since Clara asked. I hope this might be helpful for even one girl who is struggling to know how her work relates to her femininity:
Girls tend to be a little on the fragile side these days.
We need the backbone of the pioneer women, the strong arms of the Proverbs 31 woman, the business savvy of Lydia (seller of purple in the Bible), the courage of Katie Majors (leaving everything she knew to go to a foreign land and adopt many children as a single woman), the boldness of Esther, the tenacity of Gladys Aylward (going against the “safe” and “proper” status quo to be a single missionary in China), and the poise of Abigail Adams (gracious first lady).
Many girls these days aren’t developing the poise to be a first lady, the courage to live the life of Gladys Aylward, or the spiritual + physical + financial strength to imitate the Proverbs 31 woman.
Specifically, in conservative Christian circles, the thought process seems to be that if a girl knows how to keep house and take care of children, she is equipped for life. I disagree. I believe that this mentality leads to a grievous waste of time + talent among young women, as well as lending itself to poor preparation for real life.
It is wrong to assume that a girl need only know how to clean, cook, and care for children in order to be prepared for life.
Young women need to know how to earn, budget, and invest money.
They should learn business skills. They should work hard, study, create, push themselves.
Getting outside of the comfort zone needs to get on our radar! Girls (and their parents) tend to like what is comfortable, safe, and easy far too often. But your greatest potential does not lie in the comfort zone. I am so grateful I have parents who have encouraged me to dream big and live outside my comfort zone- flying many states away by myself as a teenager to live with and help another family for a week, taking a job with a near-stranger in the city (again, as a teenager) and learning the skill of landscaping (as well as the skill of earning and spending/saving a paycheck!), moving to Mexico for a fall (without any family members) to do mission work, taking a job that is high pressure + high responsibility + has included living alone for weeks at a time, and the list goes on. There are more things right now that I am dreaming of that will push me even farther outside my comfort zone. So that was a lonnggg little sermon! Moral of the story: I’m cheerin’ for all you gals to get outside your comfort zone! Start writing down things you would love to do but don’t think you can or would be good at. Things that make you a little nervous. And then start praying over that list and see where God leads! Buckle up, cause you might be in for the adventure of a lifetime!
Girls need to cultivate loving hearts and deep character instead of spending their youth reading romance novels and writing lists of “what he must be”. They should start becoming a gracious + wise + sturdy girl who would make a good helper to a good, Godly, man of vision and purpose.
This is the time to be mentoring younger girls and learning from older women.
Young women should be focused on caring for the things of the Lord- seeking meaningful work and ministry in their single years. There is work to be done and people to be served. Life is too short to be spent on Pinterest and Facebook. There is more to our life than home decor and DIY projects.
Girls should make the most of their days, becoming disciplined, industrious, capable women.
They must get a vision for the hurting people in the world, and start loving the things Jesus loves.
They need to learn how to handle money well. Girls do not need to constantly be living from one little project sold or monetary gift given to the next. They should learn to earn money, live frugally, invest wisely, and plan astutely. Read the story of the talents/stewards in the Bible (Matthew 25)……and then seek to live as the wise steward!
I want each one of you girls to flourish, to really prosper! In your soul, in your spirit, and in your work. This doesn’t mean “success” by anyone else’s standard, but simply getting a vision, pursuing growth, and embracing hard work. Loving Jesus above all else and living joyfully with Him, stepping out in faith and not living in fear.
There are literally hundreds of skills to learn, books to read, places to travel, and character qualities to cultivate.
Look at the Proverbs 31 woman. She was quite a lady! Not only is she praised for her virtue, trustworthiness, and care for her household, but consider these descriptions:
-She worked HARD: “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands…..She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.” (verses 13 + 18)
-She was a savvy business woman: “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” (verse 24)
-She was physically STRONG: “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.” (verse 17)
-She bought property: “She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.” (verse 16)
Girls, there is not a list of “men’s work” and “women’s work” in the Word of God. There are structures laid out for leadership in the nation, church, + family, but the Bible doesn’t say that a woman shouldn’t do work that includes lifting heavy things, having male employees under her, getting down + dirty, driving big equipment, etc.
Here are some things the Word of God DOES say:
We younger women need older women to mentor us.
Find a Godly, feminine lady who loves Jesus and has a happy marriage and ask her to mentor you! Titus 2 explains what kind of older women should be mentoring younger women, and what they should be teaching them.
We are meant to love our husband + children and doing that WELL should be our first priority.
If not married, we should be actively growing in character qualities such as kindness, gentleness, selflessness, and humility- things that will help make us a loving wife and mother someday. Unmarried women can practice loving home + family by cultivating sweet family relationships, serving family and others joyfully, and making people the priority over their personal desires and plans.
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5)
We should seek to be women of virtue.
Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”
The definition of virtue: “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness; uprightness: chastity; a good or admirable quality.”
We were created because, “It is not good for man to be alone.”(Gen. 2)
God looked at the man He had made and decided to create a woman and bring them together in a beautiful relationship called marriage. He saw that the man needed a helper, and that his life would be completed when he had a woman by his side.
Girls, our “femininity”- that soft + tender side, the “Mother’s instinct”, the love for children and homemaking- this was created by God. Even in our work, we should be cultivating the nurturing, gracious woman God created us to be.
Please take note: You don’t have to be married to fulfill God’s purpose for you!
Just because you are not a wife and mother does not mean that you can’t be the woman God created you to be.
I know some extremely beautiful, kind, virtuous women who, although unmarried, fully embrace their femininity and nurturing + helping instincts. They can be found in all manner of work environments- working at a hospital, helping homeschool younger siblings, working as a secretary, teaching violin students, running a business, tutoring English students, selling houses, doing landsaping, managing political campaigns, and the list goes on.
The common thread I see in these women is this-they love serving others in all areas of life.
They nurture people. They help and encourage their family members. They bring kindness, joy, and compassion to their work environments. They realize that they were created by God, to showcase His glory to the world.
They want to be conduits of His love and grace in everything they do.
They know that whatever work they do is an opportunity to be good stewards of what has been given to them by their Heavenly Father.
Whether you are changing diapers or selling houses, flying airplanes or baking cakes, writing books or homeschooling children, sewing costumes or hiring employees, administering iv’s or recording cd’s, taking people’s photos or doing people’s taxes, installing tile or mowing lawns…….do it all “heartily, as to the Lord.”
To every woman reading this- may your work, no matter what that is, be done with intention, love, and joy.
And now, I’d love to hear your feedback What struck a chord with you?
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