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 (Manna 45: A Life of Servitude)
Women in the Workforce
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Yvonne Chan — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The phrase “Women in the Workforce” is one that requires special thought or consideration. The question of equality surfaces—an issue that contemporary society is still grappling with, even though social views of working women have changed dramatically over the past hundred years or so.

Gone are the days when women were expected to remain at home after marriage.  In many countries where girls and boys are given equal opportunities in education, girls are entering the workforce equally ambitious.

The type of work women take on can no longer be stereotyped. In the business world, for example, where women used to be seen as secretaries or junior assistants, many are now rising to positions of authority, becoming key players and decision makers.

This trend of change can be seen in almost every type of job.  Even in traditionally male-dominated areas like construction, women are entering the field to work alongside men. 

The Bible certainly encourages us to work hard. The book of Proverbs especially is full of wise sayings about the positive effects of hard work. “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,” says Proverbs 12:11, “But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.”

The Bible teaches us that “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Prov 12:24), and “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, And an idle person will suffer hunger” (Prov 19:15).  Proverbs 12:27 also tells us that “diligence is man’s precious possession.”

It may surprise some to learn that the Bible encouraged women to take on active roles in the workforce. Women’s contributions were valued even within the patriarchal structure of the Old Testament.

Our Lord Jesus certainly included women in His ministry, and we are also able to find examples of working women worthy of our attention in the Bible.


There are outstanding women in the Bible with successful careers or vocations. Three of these women are mentioned below. They are noteworthy because their success stems from the way they placed God in their hearts.

These are three exceptional women in the Bible who had careers of their own. What were noteworthy about their success, however, were not their own capabilities. Their success stemmed from how they placed God in their hearts.


Acts introduces Lydia, who was “a seller of purple.” She was a merchant and thus a businesswoman. From all accounts, she was a very successful entrepreneur.

After Lydia believed in the Lord, she got baptized with her entire household. She then opened her house to the members as a meeting place. Paul and his companions were able to evangelize and strengthen the faith of the believers because of her hospitality, offered despite her busy business schedule (Acts , 40). 

Philippi was the first European city that Paul preached in during his ministry. Lydia set such a good example that Paul later wrote to the established church at Philippi—thanking the members for their generosity and support (Phil 4:14-20).

The spirit of hospitality and generosity displayed by her became a mark of the church in Paul’s time.   


Priscilla, another woman mentioned in the New Testament, shows us that a married woman can be actively involved in business as well as evangelism.

Paul met her and Aquila, her husband, at Corinth (Act 18:1-3). She worked with her husband in the tent manufacturing business. Since Paul was in the same trade, the apostle stayed and worked with them. Priscilla also traveled and worked with her husband as evangelists.

Later, when Paul left for Syria, the couple accompanied him (Acts 18:18). Paul left them at Ephesus, perhaps a provident move, for it was here that the couple were able to teach a dynamic young preacher named Apollos the correct way of God (Acts 18:24-26).

Apollos became one of the most active evangelists of the church. He was able to keep to the true message of God due to the diligence of Priscilla and Aquila.  They were willing to put God at the center of their lives as husband and wife and as business partners.


There are also examples of working women in the Old Testament.

Judges 4:4 tells us that Deborah, “a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” The “children of Israel came up to her for judgment” as she sat under “the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim” (Judg 4:5).

Although we have no information on Deborah’s early years, we already know that she was a prophetess who judged the people. Here was a married woman who was also a judge. She gave orders to a commander, Barak son of Abinoam, to deploy troops against their enemy. When Barak insisted that she come along with him, she did not hesitate. She went with the army into the war zone as courageously as any modern-day woman in the army would.

Deborah listened carefully to God’s call (Judg 4:6-7) and showed her leadership qualities by delegating tasks accordingly. She willingly went into danger for the people of God (Judg 4:9-10) and inspired the army of Israel to fight their enemies with faith (Judg 4:14-16).

In all that she did, Deborah placed God at the center of her actions and her trust.


There are of course other examples of women in the workforce, like Shallum’s daughters who worked on construction; a male-dominated line of work even by today’s standards. This is recorded in Nehemiah 3:12.

The two women worked to repair the wall of Jerusalem together with their father, using their talents and offering their time for the people of God.

In the medical profession, two well-known midwives were Shiphrah and Puah, God-fearing women who put their own lives at risk by disobeying a direct order from Pharoah by sparing the lives of Hebrew male infants (Ex 1:15-17).

By doing this, the people of Israel were preserved, and God’s plans for His nation were not thwarted by evil design. 


The women in these examples show us that, in whatever we do, we should focus on God first, and everything else will fall into place.

Lydia did not abandon her business, but she prioritized her time differently. Finding the time to offer her house as the center of worship for the believers in the area became something that was very important to her.

Priscilla willingly uprooted herself, setting up her home in different places like the nomads of old, in order to assist Paul and evangelize. She accepted the uncertainty this must have caused in her life, and she was able to support her husband in their business and spiritual life wherever they went.

Deborah also put aside her family life temporarily, when God needed her to motivate His army to defeat their enemy. She risked her life to answer God’s calling.

These women encourage and inspire us to offer our time, our talents, and our lives to God and His people.

We live in troubled times, and life can become stressful. Many are caught in the never-ending struggle to carve a better life—better lifestyle!—for our family. Couples are coming to the conclusion that both partners must work for economic reasons.

The marketplace constantly encourages this trend, offering new gadgets, new technology, and new designs in clothing or decorating. The media continually defines the image of success for us. Business moguls, movie stars, musicians—these are the beautiful, well-built, smart, and rich people who typify success in our modern world. Hence, those who do not have these things aspire to get them.

All of us, men and women, work in such a materialistic environment. As we strive to carve out a better life for our families and ourselves, we must remember our priorities. We must not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the need to survive or to continue improving our lifestyle to the exclusion of all else.


Remember Jesus’ advice in Matthew 6:26-34. Here, our Lord tells us not to worry about our life, “what [we] will eat or what [we] will drink.” He asks if life is not “more than food and the body more than clothing.”

The heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air even though “they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns.” Consider the glory of the lilies of the field. They look more glorious than even Solomon in all his glory. The important thing, Jesus tells us, is to

            Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.

The successful women mentioned above truly understood this. They were able to apportion their time and set priorities to determine what was important to them.

In the passage above, the Lord tells us to place the kingdom of God first in our hearts. When we do that, all things fall into place as God provides everything else that we need.

The examples Jesus gave are simple ones. What could be more beautiful and simple than the birds flying free in the air or wildflowers blooming in the field? Our basic needs, likewise, are simple.

God provides us with what we need, not what we think we need. Sometimes there is a discrepancy between the two. Hence, as we try to prove ourselves as women in this modern society, we must remember to keep our focus and our priorities right.

We need to consistently assign God first place in our hearts (Mt.6:33), consult regularly with our Father in heaven through prayer and quiet time (Ps 55:17), examine our own heart to determine what is appropriate at any given time (Eccl 3:1), and keep ourselves spiritually fit (Eph 6:11).

Only then will we be able to keep our balance as women chosen by God for His purpose.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church