By Nathan Jones
Tucked along with the teachings of King Solomon, considered according to the Bible the wisest of the ancient Israelite kings, is an oracle from the mother of King Lemuel of Massa. The wisdom of Solomon produced a golden era for his nation, and by his great business sense the country reached its peak in trade, building and production. Truly Lemuel's mother's teaching on the ultimate definition of the wife of noble character must have made a great impression on such an accomplished leader like Solomon, for he included the truth of her teaching to echo across the generations as the inspired words of Proverbs 31.
The wise business leader of today should apply the excellent characteristics of the noble wife as setting the bar for what they and their employees should emulate. The wise leader will in turn respond to the success of their employee in praise as those reciprocate to the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31. As verse 31 reads, "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
What defines the character of the noble wife? She is known for being compassionate to the poor and generous to needy. She plans ahead for all troubles and contingencies. She is both professional in her manner and reflects that in her appearance. She is known for her strength of fortitude. Her bearing is full of dignity. Her vault of wisdom flows to others in her teachings. She manages smartly her affairs, and no one every finds her idle. The woman's nobility of character derives from a reverent fear and respect for God.
The noble wife is also a businesswoman at heart. The passage describes her superior level of productivity. She shows great discernment in choosing the right products. Her hands are eager to work, and she gathers over the long hours from early morning to late at night. She's known not just for providing for her family but for her employees as well. The woman is learned in buying and selling. She adds to what her husband earns. She's known as a vigorous worker with the strength and skill to be a profitable trader.
The honorable character of this woman inevitably brings honor to her husband. He has full confidence in her, knowing he'll lack nothing of value while she manages the family affairs. She's known for bringing good and not harm to all around her, and her fortitude remains all the days of her life. In summary, the noble character of this woman drives her to be the best in all her endeavors, and all those around her benefit as well from her toil.
A modern day example of a woman seeking to attain to be this Proverbs 31 woman is Salina Johnson — wife, mother of three boys, and owner of the Princeton Events Center. She puts God first as the center of her life, supporting her husband as the spiritual leader of the family and raises her boys to live in faith. When not managing the household, she puts long hours building her community center and has become known as a pillar in the Princeton community.
Because the family and business community benefit from her hard work, she is naturally due respect. A wise husband and employer would do well to follow Lemuel's mother's advice and give the appropriate respect earned. As affirmation is part of the human condition, praise becomes the consummate reward for a job well done. As former dean of the Regent University School of Business' Michael Zigarelli explains, "God does not regard praising employees as optional... praise is something earned and as such, something owed by faithful managers to their worthy employees (Zigarelli, 2008, p. 276). Godly wisdom produces noble character, noble character produces hard work, hard work produces profitability both tangible and intangible, and the final result deserves "praise at the city gate."
Zigarelli, M. (2008). Management by Proverbs: Scriptural Wisdom for Superior Results. United States of America: Xulon Press.