31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #6 She is Hardworking

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Hardworking – [hahrdwur-king] (adj) 1. industrious; zealous: a hardworking person.1

 

She gets up while it is still night;
             – Proverbs 31:15a (NIV)

 

Facts About Early Birds

According to Forbes.com, early birds have the advantage! This assessment is based on an article written by Christoph Randler for the Harvard Business Review.

Early risers can jump with joy at the perks they create for themselves.

Here are 10 encouraging benefits early risers can experience:

  1. Get Better Grades – In a 2008 Texas University study, college students who identified themselves as “morning people” earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who were “night owls” (3.5 vs. 2.5). Good grades help students secure better career opportunities.
  2. More Proactive – Harvard biologist Christoph Randler discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive. They were more likely to agree with statements like “I spent time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
  3. Anticipate Problems – Randler’s research also revealed that “morning people” are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to more success in the business world.
  4. Better Planners – Early risers report using their morning quiet time for organization, goal-setting, and planning out their days and weeks ahead.
  5. Time to Exercise – Many successful businesspeople get up early to exercise (before the family is awake and their official work day starts). Regular exercise boosts mood and fitness, provides energy on the job and helps create deeper sleep cycles.
  6. Get Better Sleep – Sleep experts say that if you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body will be more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms, which offers more restorative sleep.
  7. More Optimistic – Various studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and conscientiousness. Night owls, while linked with creativity and intelligence, are more likely to exhibit traits such as depression, pessimism and being neurotic.
  8. Easier Commutes – Early risers report less congested commutes due to leaving home earlier than the crowds.
  9. A Quiet Hour – Those who arrive at the office before their colleagues say the relish that first hour or two that provide quiet, uninterrupted time to focus.
  10. More Family Time – If you’ve gotten a jump on the day, you’ll have more quality time in the evenings to spend with family. Instead of bring work home, you can relax and unwind.2

There’s no doubt in my mind that strong arguments exist in the business world to support getting up early. In fact, they far outweigh the rationale for hitting the snooze button. But what are the benefits for us as Christian women, wives and mothers?

Hard Workers Rise Early

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”3Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite historical characters to quote. Not only were his observations witty and memorable, often he was just plain right. The facts

Jesus praying in the early morning hours.

mentioned above regarding those who are up before the sun easily refute the late riser’s attempts at building a case to the contrary. Even though every rule has its exception, most would agree an early start to a busy day makes sense, no matter how seemingly painful that might be.

Take the central character of the New Testament for example. Even the Son of God had a schedule to keep and rose before the rooster crowed.

 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” – Mark 1: 35-37

Verse 36 indicates that Jesus rose so early that no one else was awake yet for him to communicate where he was going. In fact, the preceding paragraph to this verse leads us to believe Jesus was most likely a guest at the house of Simon (later to be called Peter).  The night before, Jesus had cured Simon’s mother-in-law of a high fever. She promptly got up and served the men after her illness left her. Jesus rose so early that even the women of the household were still not awake. That’s early.

Why would Jesus need to get up at such and “ungodly” hour? Was he stressed and unable to sleep? Was he simply one of those annoying morning people who automatically wake at the crack of dawn? Was he nervous or agitated about the day ahead of him?

Verse 35 tells us that Jesus got up early so he could be alone and pray. Before the incessant din of the day or endless clamor of the crowds began, he gathered his thoughts, questions, plans and laid them before God. In the cool and quiet of the pre-dawn hours Jesus communed with his Father.

Let’s examine a typical day for Jesus. In Mark 1:21-34, this is what his schedule looked like:

  • Arrive in Capernaum (walking from Galilee)
  • Go to the synagogue (teach with authority, amaze people)
  • Cast out an impure spirit from a man (the news goes viral)
  • Go to Simon’s house (cure Simon’s mother-in-law of fever)
  • Attend crowds (cure the ill and demon possessed)
  • Attend the whole town (heal many and cast out more demons)

As women, wives and mothers, we can pack our schedules. It’s in our DNA to be aware of the status of others and the condition of our surroundings. We can run ourselves ragged tending to the needs of our family, boss, community or church. However, even if we have the good intention of serving others as an act of service to God, do we give Him the prime time of our day? Do we let Him in on the plans at the planning stage or only after a problem occurs? Is God at the start of each day so that He can orient, guide and bless the numerous tasks before us?

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.  – Psalm 127:1-2

No one who is a hard worker wants his/her work to be in vain. We all want our hard work to pay off, show progress, and result in reward. For Christians, that means ensuring we work in step with God.

Hard workers do rise early. However, spiritually-minded hard workers maximize their efforts by first working hard at being close to God, no matter what.

Hard Workers Realize Dreams

“What I was told by my parents was…pursue your dream, as long as you’re a capable and hardworking human being, you will be able to follow and fulfill your dream.” – Chanda Kochhar

Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank.

Chanda Kochhar (born 17 November 1961) is the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank. She is widely recognized for her role in shaping retail banking in India. In 1984, Kochhar joined the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) as a management trainee. During her early years at ICICI, she handled project appraisal and monitoring and evaluated projects in industries such as textile, paper and cement.

Kochhar was instrumental in establishing ICICI Bank during the 1990s. In 1993, Kochhar was appointed as one of the core team members who were assigned the responsibility of setting up the bank. She was promoted to assistant general manager in 1994 and then to deputy general manager in 1996. In 1996, Kochhar headed the newly formed Infrastructure Industry Group of ICICI Bank, which aimed to create dedicated industry expertise in the areas of power, telecom and transportation. In 1998, she was promoted as the General Manager and headed ICICI Bank’s major client group, which handled relationships with ICICI’s top 200 clients. In 1999, she also handled the strategy and e-

Kochhar revieves the India’s Best Banks Award.

commerce divisions of ICICI Bank. Under Kochhar’s leadership, ICICI Bank started building the nascent retail business in 2000 focusing largely on technology, innovation, process engineering and expansion of distribution and scale. In April 2001, she took over as executive director. In 2006, Kochhar was appointed as deputy managing director of ICICI Bank. In 2006–07, Kochhar handled the international and corporate businesses of the bank. From 2007 to 2009, she was the bank’s chief financial officer (CFO) and joint managing director.

In 2009 Kochhar was appointed as managing director and chief executive officer of the bank and has been responsible for the bank’s diverse operations in India and overseas. She also chairs the boards of most of the bank’s subsidiaries, which include India’s leading private sector life and general insurance companies.

Kochhar is a member of the India–Japan Business Leaders Forum and the US-India CEO Forum. She was the president of the International Monetary Conference, an organization that annually brings together the chief executives of approximately 70 of the world’s largest financial institutions from 30 countries, along with officials from government institutions in 2015–16. She is the deputy chairman of the Indian Banks Association. Kochhar is the chairperson of the board of governors at IIIT Vadodara. She is also on the boards of the National Institute of Securities Markets and Institute of International Finance. Kochhar has been a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry, the Board of Trade and High-Level Committee on Financing Infrastructure. She was co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2011.

Kochhar received an honorary doctorate from Carleton University, Canada in 2014, in recognition of her pioneering work in the financial sector, effective leadership in a time of economic crisis and support for engaged business practices. She was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honors, in 2011.

Kochhar resides in Mumbai, and is married to Deepak Kochhar, a wind energy entrepreneur and her business schoolmate. They have two children, a daughter Aarti and a son, Arjun.4

Reading Chanda Kochhar’s bio makes my head spin! It is obvious she is an exceedingly capable, intelligent and dedicate professional. So, it’s interesting that she associates her hard work rather than her intelligence with reaching her dreams, at least as highlighted in the above quote. There’s a certain down to earth quality about it. It makes dreaming big more accessible to the average person. Not everyone is intelligent, but anyone can work hard.

Another over-achiever credited hard work to his spiritual accomplishments instead of calling attention to his mental aptitude, charismatic personality or family pedigree. The Apostle Paul, who was a highly educated man, cited not his own intelligence as the success of the ministries he planted and cultivated but rather the hard work of making Christ known among the believers:

We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me. – Colossians 1:28-29 (HCSB)

Paul evens goes a step further by attributing the strength behind his hard work to Christ himself.

What are your dreams? Whether they are scholastic, professional, interpersonal or spiritual, hard work is an integral factor in reaching your goals.

Hard Workers Inspire Others with Their Example

”Being hardworking is the best thing you can show your children.”5David Beckham

David Beckham

It always amazes me how those who master their craft make their art, sport, or performance appear easy. Have you ever watched a great movie and imagined yourself on the big screen or humbly accepting an Oscar? Or perhaps you attend a show and the singer inspires images of yourself on stage before a sold-out concert hall. Or maybe you watch a sports event and toy with the idea of the crowds chanting your name! That’s what watching superstars does to our perception. It gets bent a bit. Their years of endless practice, toil and rehearsal, which we never see, makes their performance look effortless.

On the flip side of that coin is an opposing warped perception. We think, superstars are not like your average person so why even try to be like them? That way of thinking is just laziness on our part. The assumption that the those at the top of their game are simply naturally gifted removes all responsibility from the rest of us to commit to the same hard work protocol required to achieve similar results. It’s our way out, it’s our irrefutable excuse.

Picture this: David Beckham tucks his young kids into bed at night. In an adorable English accent one of his sons might say, “Daddy, I want to play football just like you when I grow up!” And Beckham responds, “Don’t worry son, you will, it’s all in the genes.”

Instead, based on his quote, I imagine the conversation would go more like this: “Daddy, I want to play football just like you when I grow up!” And Beckham responds, “Son, if you work really, really hard at it you very well could someday.”

When we give the example of hard work, we then expect it in others. We understand its value and don’t try to shield our children from its innumerous lessons. We comprehend the pride that is derived from good old fashioned hard work. We are not ashamed of the sweat and toil that got us where we are today.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.                                – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Saul, later to become the Apostle Paul, giving approval of the stoning of Stephen.

Paul was arguably the greatest of all the apostles, yet he did not pride himself on his intellect or religious track record. He realized he had grave sins that needed forgiveness. The amazing grace that God extended him inspired his hard work. Those of us who identify with Paul’s deep appreciation of forgiveness don’t work hard to be saved but work hard because we’re saved.

What’s your perspective on hard work? Are you ready to get up early to invest in your relationship with God? Do you believe hard work can bring you closer to achieving your dreams? Are you an example of hard work for others to imitate? If you find your perspective about hard work is a little warped, just bend it…like Beckham.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://www.forbes.com/pictures/gglg45gfd/benefits-of-early-risers/#1d1e1d861eb7

3 www.brainyquotes.com

4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanda_Kochhar

5 www.brainyquotes.com

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #5 She is Consistent

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Consistent – [kuh n-sis-tuh nt] (adj) 1. agreeing or accordant; compatible; not self-contradictory: His views and actions are consistent. 2. constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.: a consistent opponent. 3. holding firmly together; cohering.1

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.         – Proverbs 31:14 (NIV)

Merchant Ships

For millenniums, cities have depended upon merchant ships to set sail for distant lands with the promise of returning heavily laden with all sorts of valued commodities and enticing treasures. Local economies counted on the regularity of delivered goods not readily available from surrounding areas, such as: spices, textiles, natural resources like wood, or precious minerals like gold. The arrival of the merchant ship on the horizon signaled the prospect of abundance, prosperity, and comfortable times ahead.

An early merchant shipping vessel

One of the keys to success for any company in the merchant shipping industry was consistency. Without reliability of delivery, commerce would grind to a halt. Fleet owners were required to plan for and handle unpredictable weather, unreliable crewmen, and unrelenting piracy in order to meet the demands of customers without skipping a beat. Only the most consistent companies gained the trust of the store owners and the public, thus solidifying future orders.

Your Consistency Affects Your Family

If someone compared you to “the merchant ships, bringing food from afar,” the comment might not communicate the great compliment it truly is. Really, who wants to be likened to a commercial vessel? Yet the praise is high, indeed!

So much of what is contained in the job description of a wife and mother falls under the category of “unseen and thankless tasks.” No one else notices unless it isn’t done. Rarely will you hear, “Wow, the house looks and smells great!”, after you’ve swept, mopped, vacuumed and dusted the entire house. Yet, skip a day or two of tidying up and every member of your household comments about the mess! Like the merchant ships, only the owner recognizes the hard work behind consistently meeting needs, on time, every time.

When my children were young, toddlers even, I made the decision to have “sit down” dinners every night. As they grew into preteens and teens, we had those dinners together as much as their sports and extracurricular schedules permitted. Why the fuss? Research shows that one of the best ways to connect with your family is through sitting down at the table and enjoying a meal together. It’s a way to communicate with your children. It’s a great way for them to see their parents interacting positively. It’s a perfect way to have group discussion, teach a principle or establish new family codes of conduct or expectations. Most of all, it’s a way to check the negative influence the world is having on your family and counter balance that with Biblical precepts and encouragement.

Early on, my husband and I agreed upon the importance the dinner table would serve in our lives. As a physical education teacher, he fully understood the intrinsic value of consistent training. Around our daily meals together, we would plant seeds of God’s word in our children’s hearts. Daily, they could count on sitting down at the table, praying with us, practicing good table manners, participating in open conversation, remaining at the table until everyone finished and helping to clear the table after the meal was over. What I just described didn’t happen overnight. Every new phase in their development required revisiting expectations and explaining the reasons behind our need to spend time together as a family. Our consistency won out. My husband and I braved the preteen years and somehow survived the teen years. For our now adult children, gathering around the dinner table is what normal looks like to them.

Establish good habits with kids while they are young. They grow up all too fast!

As “the merchant ship” of the family, I took it upon myself to set a proper table, to vary the menu, and to make meals on time and worth coming home to. That takes commitment, especially if you work outside the home. My husband began sharing the responsibility and many nights we cooked together. That was an added and unexpected bonus, time together in the kitchen recapping our day while we chopped and diced. Now that our children are grown, the toil behind that major decision fades and the memories of us around the table remain.

Were there exceptions to the rule? Yes, of course. But that is what it should be. Not eating together is the exception and not the other way around. Ask yourself: Have you fallen into lazy or less effective routines with your family? Has the dinning table become a catch all for mail, assorted junk or dust from inactivity? Do your kids ask if it’s a special occasion should you decide to set the table because they are so unaccustomed to looking at family faces while eating instead of the television or their iPads?

Meal time is so much more than simply satisfying the biological need for sustenance. It represents an opportunity to commune, connect, communicate. It’s not by chance that one of the most well-known scenes of the New Testament took place around a table. In the three years that Jesus spent with his disciples I imagine he broke bread with them daily. Every time they ate together, he had another chance to get to know them and to be known by them. They saw his example, heard his words and felt his presence. The Last Supper was a familiar “family” event for the disciples although they would only come to understand its deep significance much later. And how they would treasure those moments after Jesus had left them to be reunited with the Father!

The Last Supper by French artist Bouveret

Your Consistency Affects Your Righteousness

King David of the Old Testament, a forefather in Jesus’ earthly lineage, was described as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:13-14), meaning God could trust that David desired what He desired. What an incredible attribute! What an amazing description for someone who loved God and wanted to serve Him! Yet, David’s life was characterized by spiritual highs and lows. The most infamous low was his adulterous relationship with a married woman, which resulted in the birth of an illegitimate son and the consequent assassination of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.

David sees Bathsheba from afar.

The prophet Nathan was given the terrifying task of confronting King David and calling him to repentance. Fortunately, for Nathan, after he recounted a convicting parable, realization set in and David acknowledged his sin before God and the prophet, but not without consequence. His infant son soon fell ill and in a week’s time died. It was then that the full extent of David’s sin was felt to his core and Psalm 51 was inspired.

The Prophet Nathan confronts David about his adultery.

10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.                                                              – Psalm 51:10-12

The word steadfast, meaning fixed in a direction; firm in purpose; unwavering or resolute, is what you’ll find in the Bible more readily than the word consistent. It also means faithful or reliable. It stands out in David’s psalm as he is racked with guilt and grief after coming to terms with his iniquity and the loss of his son. He asks God to renew a steadfast spirit within him.  Perhaps David recognized that his failure to obey the Lord’s commands stemmed from his inconsistency.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”   – 2 Samuel 11:1-3

David let his guard down. Instead of doing what a king should have been doing, he sent another in his place and remained back at the palace, idle. Maybe the old adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” sprang from this very situation.

Consistently doing what we know is right can certainly help shield us from temptation.

Your Consistency Affects Your Maturity

“I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and lows.” 2  – Drew Barrymore, Actress/Producer/Director

Drew Barrymore

Typically, I research the lives of the people I quote in my blog. Why? To better understand the circumstances and deeper meanings to their quotes. I need to comprehend the who, what, why and how behind the words of these famous people who someone thought worthy of quoting. Discovering significant events of Drew Barrymore’s life led me to a greater appreciation of the above quote. Here’s a brief description of some of her highs and lows:

Drew Blythe Barrymore (born February 22, 1975) is an American actress, author, director, model and producer. She is a member of the Barrymore family of American stage and film actors, and a granddaughter of actor John Barrymore. Beginning as a child actress on television, she soon transitioned to feature films, including her biggest box office success, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

Following a highly publicized, turbulent childhood marked by drug and alcohol abuse with two stints in rehab, she released her autobiography, Little Girl Lost (1991). Barrymore appeared in a string of successful films and in 1995, she and Nancy Juvonen formed a joint production company, Flower Films. Her godmothers are Lee Strasberg’s widow Anna Strasberg, a relationship with whom Barry has described as “would become so important to me as a kid because she was so kind and nurturing”, and actress Sophia Loren, and her godfather is director Steven Spielberg.

In the wake of her sudden stardom, Barrymore endured a notoriously troubled childhood. She was already a regular at the racy Studio 54 as a young girl, smoking cigarettes at age of nine, drinking alcohol at age eleven, smoking marijuana at age twelve and snorting cocaine at age thirteen. Her nightlife and constant partying became a popular subject with the media. She was in rehab at age of fourteen, and spent eighteen months in an institution for the mentally ill. A suicide attempt, also at 14, put her back in rehab, followed by a three-month stay with singer David Crosby (of rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame) and his wife. The stay was precipitated, Crosby said, because she “needed to be around some people that were committed to sobriety.” Barrymore later described this period of her life in her autobiography, Little Girl Lost. After a successful juvenile court petition for emancipation, she moved into her own apartment at the age of fifteen.

Barrymore went on to star in numerous films, some of which were box office hits and some with less than glowing critical acclaim. She has won a Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award from the Young Artist Foundation, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Grey Gardens (2009). Barrymore’s films compile a worldwide box office gross that stands at over US$2.3 billion.3

All actors dream of the mountain top experiences (the highs) of their profession; fame, fortune, and accolades. I imagine that no one desires the low points; being passed over, starring in flops, and addictions. So, is it possible to have the highs without the lows? Can there be mountains without valleys? I don’t think so. To some, Ms. Barrymore’s words may sound safe and unambitious. However, after a closer examination of her life, I sense experience, maturity and levelheadedness in her quote.

While reaching for the “highs,” perhaps some of the “lows” in one’s life cannot be avoided. However, leading a consistent life may even out the waves, making it easier to deal with the ups and downs of the voyage.

Consistency Affects the Basics of Christianity

There’s no way around it, consistency is one of those characteristics that permeates all others. It’s like excellence or passion. It ends up being applied to every aspect of a person’s life and becomes their hallmark. Whether it be in punctuality, a pleasant demeanor, a strong work ethic, an amazing prayer life or a deep relationship with God, etc., consistency is a cornerstone of those who continually see progress in their lives.

“Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.” 4  – Charlotte Bronte, Writer

As with New Year resolutions, lofty ambitions or awe-inspiring declarations may wear off as time goes by. If you are sensing that your consistency needs an overhaul, my suggestion is that you start off slow and steady in any resolution or decision you make. Small amounts of progress are far better than none at all. Increasing measures of effort and dedication over time are healthier than a burst of energy that quickly dies out.

“The beast, the religion of any restaurant is consistency. The food has to be the same every single time. It has to be as good (as the last time). That requires eternal vigilance.” 5                                      – Anthony Bourdain, Chef/Author/TV Host

The best restaurants can boast longevity because of consistency. Their customers know they will not be disappointed, so they return, again and again.

As a young Christian, I was prone to being led by my emotions rather than being guided by the Word of God. You can easily imagine the problems that could spring up because of that! What would happen if I didn’t feel like reading my Bible, sharing my faith, meeting with other disciples or keeping my commitment with God?

A friend helped me see and understand that feelings, emotions and even circumstances change constantly. God’s Word remains the same. Steadfast. There were many situations where I needed to simply decide to be consistent with God, and hopefully the feelings would follow. Most times, the right feelings did follow the obedient actions. Now, thirty-four years later, that good advice still helps me to be consistent.


In 2018, my personal theme for the year is “Transforming weaknesses into strengths.” The sky’s the limit! Everything in my life and character are open for improvement. Here’s the plan:

  • Decide about what I most want/need to change
  • Pray, meditate, seek input
  • Take practical steps and make achievable goals
  • Reflect, reboot, rejoice in the process and the progress, large or small

I hope you’ll join me! Leave comments and let me know what you plan to grow in.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 www.brainyquote.com

3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drew_Barrymore

4 www.brainyquote.com

5 Documentary, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #5 – Love

by Leslie De Morais

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.


You might wonder why I’d include “love” on the Strong Marriage Check List. Isn’t love a given? Isn’t it obvious that a marriage requires love? Yet I’ve met many women who have married for innumerous reasons other than love. Here are a few (all the names are fictitious):

  • Pat married to get out of her parents’ home.
  • Jenny married because all her friends were getting married.
  • Diane married because she got pregnant.
  • Beth married because she feared her boyfriend was interested in another woman.
  • Sue married because she was obsessed with having her dream wedding.
  • Cathy married because she thought it would solve some of her financial problems.
  • Linda married to end the relentless pressure from her family.
  • Terry married because she was bored and thought it’d be fun.
  • Paige married because she didn’t think she’d get a better offer.
  • Judy married because she was afraid of growing older and being alone.

And the list goes on. Even if you married for love, it may be difficult to maintain that love as life unfolds.

I’ve learned from my own marriage that without love there really is no marriage. Love is the glue that holds us together in the tough times and enables us to flourish in the good times. Love is more than a feeling; it is more than an emotion. Love is a decision made daily, regardless of circumstances and independent of sentiment. Love is the result of a choice and the choice is, “I choose you, I choose us.”

But what exactly is love?

If you are as old as I am, you might remember searching the newspaper for the popular “Love is…” drawings by New Zealand artist Kim Casali. Over the years, the successful comic strip must have accumulated thousands of definitions of love. Some funny, some insightful, some whimsical.

When it comes to love, it seems as if everyone has their own definition.

Watch this video of children who candidly share their ideas about love.

 

Now, what do you do if you found yourself on the list above of women who married for reasons other than love? What is love and how can you cultivate it in your relationship?

Eppie Lederer, A.K.A. Ann Landers

Known for her practical advice dispensed for decades through a syndicated newspaper column, Ann Landers gets us a little closer to a working definition of love. Yet there’s an even more complete definition inspired by the One who invented love.

If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.                                                                                                                  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

The first three verses describe how accomplishing incredible feats and deeds without love only results in emptiness and utter failure. Let’s apply this to marriage:

  • If I have an awesome wedding planner and amazing party, a fabulous dress and incredible honeymoon but have not love, I gain nothing.
  • If I marry a man my friends think is perfect and my family accepts but I do not love, I set myself up for heartache and disappointment.
  • If I have the good intentions and a desire to make things work but have not love, I am likely to fail.

Not very satisfying statements. Yet when individuals do not profoundly understand the true meaning of love, it’s easy to comprehend how couples enter into marriages where love is sorely lacking.

Verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 13 are well known and are the adopted passage for many brides and grooms on their wedding day. It is one of God’s biblical definitions of love.

Many years ago, in a class for wives, the speaker challenged us all to reread the passage removing the word love and put our own names or pronoun in its place. The verse would then read something like this:

Leslie is patient, Leslie is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. Leslie does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Leslie does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Leslie never fails.

It was only after this exercise that some aspects of the biblical love God expects me to have for my husband became crystal clear. I had to admit, some days were difficult to claim possession of even one of these traits. At least now, I knew what love looked like. Love was deep, steady and enduring. Love required discipline and self-control. It selflessly focused on others. Love was incredibly difficult yet somehow attainable. Love was possible…with God in the middle of it.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,           that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.                       – John 3:16 (NIV)

I cannot love like the Bible describes without closeness to God. Without Him to remind me how great His love is for me, I would not have the capacity to love others, to love my husband, or even to love myself. His awe-inspiring love teaches us, by example, how to love. It is this unfathomable, rich and spiritual love that attracts, binds and matures as the years pass.

What does love look like in your marriage? Can you confidently place your name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as the definition of love? If not, then begin today, trait by trait, adding to your love. Both you and your husband will love the result.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character: #4 – She is Diligent

by Leslie De Morais

Diligent – [dil-i-juh nt] (adj) 1. Constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student. 2. Done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.1

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.                                                                                                  – Proverbs 31:13 (NIV)

Wool and Flax

As many of us know, wool comes from sheep. Usually, once a year in the spring, the sheep are shorn (or sheared, depending on the dialect of the region). The wool is then spun into yarn.

What about flax? Considering the verse above, I wondered about flax, so I did some investigating. Here’s what I found out:

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed), Linum usitatissimum, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. The textile made from flax in the Western countries is known as linen. It is traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. The oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax.2

If you have a moment, watch this short and informative three-minute video that shows how to spin flax.3

Now, getting back to the theme verse (Proverbs 31:13) of this blog post and the definition of diligent, what can we learn from the Wife of Noble Character?

What Motivates Diligence?

Imagine living in a time where you not only have to make your own clothes, and those for your family, but you also need to spin the yarn or thread for your fabric. The words time-consuming and tedious come to mind. How full would your wardrobe be if all that work were required of you? What could possibly motivate the Proverbs 31 woman to “work with eager hands?”

Only one answer stands out. She highly valued the end product much more than the long hours ahead of her. Perhaps she envisioned her children dressed in the clothes she so painstakingly made for them. Maybe she cherished the cozy touch of the brand new bed linens that she and her husband would slip into after a long day’s work. Possibly, she was imagining beautiful table linens that would make a meal special when visitors called. The end product is the inspiration that fueled her task, and diligence is what set her apart from the rest.

Consistency, persistence and perseverance are qualities we all admire. No one ever wrote a book or made a movie about the guy or girl who half way through a tough job, long journey, or daunting battle gave up! Who would want to read about that or see that movie? Yet we all love to hear about the person who stuck it out during a challenge. It gives us hope that we can do the same.

A Surprising Quote

“Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.” 4

If this quote came from a cross-country runner, you might say, “That makes sense.” If I told you an Olympic athlete was known for making this statement, you might think it nothing out of the ordinary. How would you feel about that quote if you now discovered it came from a man who spent most of his adult life in political and ethical struggles against racism and injustice?

Nelson Mandela, human rights activist and President of South Africa from 1994-1999.

For most of us, we practice a sport, play an instrument or indulge in a hobby because we have a natural inclination or talent for it.  In Nelson Mandela’s case, he had neither when it came to cross-country running. He got through his task by harnessing diligence. Certainly, this discipline gave him the strength and hope to endure the 27 years he spent in prison for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

Diligent Wives Get What they Want…Eventually

How does a wife benefit from being diligent? There’s a Brazilian saying, “Quem casa, quer casa.” Translation: “The one who marries wants a home.” We’d all love to have an unlimited budget to buy our dream home and decorate it with the finest furnishings. Personally, I have yet to meet a woman in those ideal circumstances. Diligence is the stuff that fuels dreams, little by little.

Consider these verses:

Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.                                                                                                     – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,                                                                         but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.                                                           – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

It’s easy to sit around dreaming or worse, complaining because you don’t have what you want (be it a beautiful home, higher education, an amazing marriage or closeness to God). It takes diligence to bring those desires of the heart into reality.

My husband is a smart and capable man. He has accomplished many difficult undertakings in his life, such as: completing his college education, becoming fluent in a second language, moving to new countries and adapting to unfamiliar cultures, navigating the challenges of raising two teenagers successfully, relocating and beginning new careers several times and going for his master’s degree at age 50. Not to mention becoming a Christian and not wavering in his decision for over 30 years. Obviously, he is grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings he has received. However, to what personal characteristic does Alcides attribute his success? Diligence. He doesn’t consider himself extremely intelligent or unusually gifted. He understands the benefit of staying the course even when it gets hard and when giving up would be much more comfortable.

Diligent Wives Remove Obstacles

William Penn, English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.

William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.5

Like Mandela, William Penn was imprisoned for his idealism. You might think an ordeal like that would dampen his fervor or soften his convictions. Yet Penn was known for this statement:

Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.                                            – William Penn

What are the obstacles you need to remove in your life?

  • Do you have a home in desperate need of organization and order?
  • Are there personal goals you’d like to reach but procrastination and excuses have paralyzed you?
  • Is your husband not yet a Christian and your faith that he’ll become one is dwindling?
  • Does your husband lack the spiritual leadership for your family that you would like him to have and you’ve given up on being the helpmate he needs?

Do you have what it takes to remove these obstacles from your heart and mind? Patient diligence (in prayer, faith, and actions) is what’s required.

Diligent Wives are Wholehearted

In the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages and exhorts the young evangelist about some of a pastor’s worst fears. He warns Timothy that some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons! Paul then cautions Timothy to:

  • Be a good minister
  • Have nothing to do with godless myths or old wives tales
  • Train himself to be godly
  • Put his hope in God
  • Command and teach these things to others
  • Not let anyone look down on him because of his youth
  • Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
  • Not neglect his gift of preaching and teaching

Paul ends the chapter by giving Timothy the key to his future success.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)

Wholehearted diligence and perseverance. Timothy had a mountain to move and Paul set him up for victory.

Whatever mountains you may need to move, whatever your past track record has been, imitating the diligence of the Proverbs 31 Wife of Noble Character will certainly get you closer than ever to making your goals and dreams reality.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax

3 Spinning Flax with Christine MacCleod – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az2VNllZhEE

4 BrainyQuote.com

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penn