Several years ago, the school where my husband and I taught asked us to give the Baccalaureate speeches at the graduation festivities. This was extra special since it was the first graduating class in the school’s history, and it’s a privilege we still talk about to this day! We grew to love these kids as our own. We taught and coached them, had them over for dinner in our home, celebrated successes, and consoled through failures. It’s neat to see how God has worked things out, and now we are not only “former teachers” but friends with many of them.
During the years we had with them, we focused on teaching them about life because they were all about to enter into what many call “the mistake zone,” ages 18-24. We both teach English, so it was easy to incorporate life choices into our daily lessons. We realized early on that while reading and writing are no doubt very important, there is a greater need that God had laid on our hearts. We began to see our students the way God looks at them, and it changed everything. We knew that in the end, God was not going to be concerned with how many kids passed our tests or classes, but He was going to be concerned with how many we pointed to Him.
Encouraging others to fulfillment helped me understand Virtue.
For us, there is so much more to our jobs than just the academic side. We get to help raise young men and women to be responsible and hopefully, one day, live for God in all they do. We felt a huge responsibility to be a light to our kids and not only teach them the basics of English and literature but to encourage them to live a life that is as fulfilling and purposeful as possible. We knew that God had given both of us a great story to share and teaching our students was the platform where He allowed us to do it. You can imagine that teaching in a public school and incorporating “religion” into what we did every day was challenging, but by God’s grace we taught on.
Every year as graduation approaches, I think about that speech I gave at the Baccalaureate ceremony. It was directed towards the senior girls, and my husband’s was specific to the boys. It is the same “speech” I will give my daughter as she grows up, and it is my heart’s desire that every girl and woman would embrace the meaning of the words, myself included. I believe that no matter who you are—whether you are graduating from high school or college, starting at a new job or new school, moving into a new neighborhood, are entering a new marriage or motherhood, are a single mom, stay-at-home mom, widow, or if you’re a mom who is so terrified yet so proud of your girl who is embarking on a new journey—there are some things that we as women should never forget.
Take time to remember The Virtuous Woman.
Many people look to society, celebrities, media, fashion, and so on for what a real woman should look like, act like, and how she should live. I am committed to letting the Bible be my moral compass, and according to Proverbs 31, The Virtuous Woman is the “ideal woman.” Virtuous means being a person of power, either in mind, body, or both. Although we can never be all things to all people at all times (we will never be perfect), we should always seek to live our lives with honor, grit, and grace… no matter our age or place in life.
Here are four reminders of how a woman of virtue should try to act, live, and carry herself, according to her Creator.
1. Remember your value.
Don’t forget the value of a virtuous woman. She is defined by God, and that value can never be overemphasized. Different seasons of life bring about mixed emotions. You might find yourself feeling anxious, nervous, excited, content, frazzled, or even burdened, but remember the circumstances you are facing today don’t define you. God clearly chose you to experience this journey for a reason. God defines you as “you.” I was having a hard day several months ago and was feeling inadequate as a mom, and someone reminded me that I’m the perfect mom for my kids because God chose me for them. You were chosen for such a time as this…whatever your “this” is.
A virtuous woman:
Contributes to overall goodness and moral integrity.
Is careful not to tear down or destroy.
Takes care of her body, is aware of the language she uses, and makes lifestyle choices that are not selfish or shallow.
A virtuous woman does these things, for she knows she is a woman of great worth and beauty. Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
2. Remember your family.
Don’t forget to attend to your family. A virtuous woman is busy with activities that pertain to the good and well-being of her parents, siblings, and perhaps one day her future husband or children. It took me a few years to learn that while I was grown and starting to live my life as an adult, my parents still needed me to “need” them. Even though I have a husband and family of my own, “children, honor your father and mother” is still in the Bible. I still have the privilege of honoring my parents every day in the way I act, speak, live, and take care of my own family.
A virtuous woman:
Is a helper.
Nurtures, teaches, and values discipline.
3. Remember your characteristics.
Don’t forget the characteristics of a virtuous woman, for she is a woman of force and power. Sometimes it’s easy to make our circumstances and daily tasks a priority over our relationship with our Lord. He wants to be the only One, not number one.
A virtuous woman:
Is mindful of God and honors His ways.
Is loyal and pure.
Is kind and selfless.
Is cheerful instead of being bitter and complaining.
Is wise and dignified.
Serves with all her heart, mind, and soul.
Seeks God’s purpose for her life and follows it.
Uses her time wisely.
4. Remember your reward.
Don’t forget the reward for being a virtuous woman. A virtuous woman is a woman of real power. Too often, great women go unnoticed and without praise.
This is not the case with the virtuous woman:
“Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise.” (Proverbs 31:28, MSG)
“Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” (Proverbs 31:31, NLT)
A virtuous woman will get “personal” recognition for the way she lives her life from her Creator.
“The future lies before you
Like a field of driven snow,
Be careful how you tread it,
For every step will show.”
Society likes to praise and define us, but God doesn’t use the same dictionary. Maybe you’re the graduate, the girl who just got dumped, the single girl, the girl who just lost someone special, the girl who has straight A’s, the girl who won all the awards at the banquet, the girl who is…you fill in the blank…but you are a child of God, chosen by Him and for Him, not of this world. Above and beyond all the praise, recognition, and joy of this world, heaven is the ultimate reward for God’s people.
We can look around today and see that we desperately need more women who are seeking to be the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 and not Hollywood’s version of a “real woman.” God’s woman, the virtuous woman, is of real substance and lasting quality, and she offers important contributions to herself, her family, and society as a whole. In all you do, make God look good!
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