Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Woman After God's Own Heart

This week, I’m wrapping up the book “A Woman After God’s Own Heart.” I can’t say strongly enough how much I enjoy and recommend this book! My discipler/mentor in college recommended it to me 4 years ago and I’m sad to say it took me until now to read it. I wish I had read it sooner! So if you haven’t, please add it to your reading list. I’d let women who live nearby me borrow it, but I’ve marked, underlined and highlighted throughout the whole thing! It’d be difficult to read with all my notes and markings, but also I intend to return to this book any time I need a refresher, a reminder or encouragement.

I’d like to give a synopsis of Elizabeth George’s book because, for one, if anyone is curious about what it says and trying to determine if it’s worth buying or not, then I want to convince you. Two, I like to recognize any Christian author, but especially female ones, who have written a good book. Simple as that. I want to get their name out there and circulate their message so that others will benefit from their writing like I have. And three, as I’ve been reading this book for the past 4 – 5 months, it’s been changing my perspective on life and redefining my desires for the rest of my life!

So, to sum the entire book into one phrase:

Christ came to serve, not to be served (Matthew ). As Christians, we’re called to live a life of service to others like Jesus did, instead of being concerned about how others can serve us.
What better way to carry this out than beginning at our home with the most important people in our lives- with our husband and children? No other relationship on earth is more special nor has higher priority and lasting affects than that of our marriage relationship and parental relationship.

As I’ve been reading and studying this book with other newlywed girls from church, this idea has, at least for me, become the most life-changing. Obviously, the more important message in Elizabeth’s book focuses on a heart that’s devoted to God, that abides in His Word, that’s committed to prayer, and that obeys him. These make up the first few chapters of the book.

“A Heart Devoted to God”- The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 teaches us that Mary was a woman after God’s own heart. Take a moment to read it then consider the difference between how Mary and Martha handled Jesus’ visit to their home. “Mary made the choice that indicated her heart’s devotion: She knew it was important to cease her busyness, stop all activity and set aside secondary things in order to focus wholly on the Lord. Unlike her sister, who was so busy doing things for the Lord that she failed to spend time with Him, Mary put worship and her relationship with God on the top of her to-do list. Mary chose the one thing that was needed in life, and it would not be taken away from her like everything else can.” We are to be in the world, but not of it. Our whole heart, mind, soul and body is to be devoted to the Lord above all else.

“A Heart Abiding in God’s Word”- “Just like a plant with roots hidden underground, you and I- out of public view alone with God- are to draw from Him all that we need to live the abundant life that He promised to us (John 10:10). The impact of our ministry to people will be in direct proportion to the time we spend with God.” We need to know, study and memorize God’s Word in order to know how to live, for strength and encouragement when living is hard, to know what pleases and doesn’t please him, for strength to obey Him, to be able to help and encourage others, to be able to share the gospel with others, to know how to love, forgive, and teach. It’s our guidebook for life! We can’t make it without it or be the woman God intended us to be without learning from it. A person who trusts in the Lord and abides in His Word is like Jeremiah 17:8, Psalm 1:3 and Phil 4:7.

“A Heart Committed to Prayer”- The blessings of prayer include a deeper relationship with God, greater purity/ our sanctification, confidence in making our decisions, improved relationships, contentment in all circumstances, and greater confidence/faith in God. It is also a ministry. Interceding on the behalf of others is not only an important task as a Christian, but a highly effectual way to minister. If you feel useless, ineffective or helpless in someone else’s situation (or one of your own), then you can always pray. Sadly, we tend to think that because prayer is simple it’s not that effective. Oh, but it is! And it’s a privilege to be a part of praying for someone and seeing God work in their lives as a result of your prayer.

“A Heart That Obeys”- The kind of heart that God delights in is one that is compliant, cooperative and responsive to him. A heart that is willing to obey- that is tender and teachable. He can’t change our hearts, sanctify us and mold us into being more like Christ if we’re inflexible and defiant. We will be blessed and rewarded for our obedience. In all that you do, consult God and follow His will for your life. Let Him lead you on His path so that you know you’re doing the right thing. Check out Isaiah 48:17-18.

But the rest of the book expands on the topic of pursuing God’s priorities for us women, which includes our husbands, children, home, and ministry.

Priority #1 our husband- If you carefully read and study Genesis 2, you see that man wasn’t created for woman. Woman was created for man. Man was alone and God saw that it wasn’t good for him. He decided that Adam needed a helper- a companion, a supporter, a lover, a friend, an aid- that was fit for him. Out of all the other animals and creatures on the earth, He couldn’t find one that was suitable for the job. So out of man God created woman who was designed specifically and uniquely to be the helper Adam needed. As a married woman, the attitude and heart of service starts at home with our family and more specifically, with our husband. I am on an assignment from God to help my husband. That’s what I was created for. That’s where I find my primary purpose as a woman and sense of meaning in our marriage. Every day, my primary purpose or role is to help Patrick, to share his responsibilities, to respond to his nature, to support him, to wholeheartedly cooperate with him in God’s plan for our lives, and to submit to his leadership (as she says, subbing under his mission). It’s the servant-spirit that makes us reflect the character of Christ. To be selfless and serving, we must defer to others, honor them, and turn from selfishness. Not only is our husband affected positively by this, but as other couples, singles and children witness it, they are positively impacted too. It’s important for our own children to see a strong, loving, Christ-centered marriage. We are to admonish the next generation and young women to love their husbands, also (Titus 2:4).

Priority #2 our children- A woman after God’s own heart is not only a heart that serves, but a heart that values being a mother. There is no greater ministry, position or power than that of being a mother.
“The most common fallacy among women is that simply having children makes one a mother- which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician.” By Sydney Harris
Being a mother is not only a blessing and privilege, but it is an awesome responsibility from God. Mothers have the primary role of raising, nurturing, teaching, training and discipling their children. We’re called to teach them who God is, share His Word and wisdom with them, tell them about His ways and all the good things He has done in the past for others and ourselves. We’re called to walk out what it means to be a Christian in front of them- showing love, patience, forgiveness, strength and faith. We’re called to teach our children not only how to live and survive in this world, but how to live for God and thrive in this life. We don’t simply have the responsibility of providing physical needs for them, but also affection and stability. As women, we’re designed to be nurturers. This is a characteristic that reflects God. He made men and women in His image. A father can’t and won’t do the nurturing that we can. Be careful about giving away time to others or other things when you have not given time at home. Show your husband and children preferential treatment.

Priority #3 our home- The wise woman builds her house (Proverbs 14:1). We want to have a heart that makes a house a home. Why is the home so important? It’s where the people whom we love most and who are most important to us (including ourselves) reside. It can be a place of disorder, chaos, fear, anger, negativity and dread. Or a place of calm, order, refuge, fun, and happiness. We want our home to be the place that we, our husband and children look forward to getting to at the end of the day. A place they miss and associate with renewal or peace. Building a house doesn’t only refer to the structure and upkeep of a home, but also to the family members in it. “Building a house” means knitting together the family and the day-to-day routine of creating a happy and comfortable place for them to live. Who is responsible for the quality of life in this place? The woman (Proverbs 31:27, 10 and Titus 2:4-5). She sets the mood and maintains the atmosphere in the home. If she is wise, she diligently and purposefully works on it and doesn’t merely hope it will happen by itself. God can give us everything we need to create a healthy home. A woman after God’s own heart knows that she’s on an assignment to build her home, watch over it and take care of it.. and it’s a lifelong endeavor to be a homemaker. Every day we are called to appreciate and manage the home and family that God has given us- what He has provided through our husband’s efforts and our own. What a blessing to Him and our family when we approach our home and taking care of it with a servant’s heart!

                        If we take care of our homes effectively, then we’ll have time to also participate in church ministry and volunteering our time and efforts outside of the home. But be careful not to rush out the door to go help out at the church when your home is a wreck, or go visit friends when your children need time with you first. “God uses the management of our home as a training ground for our usefulness in the church. He sees how we maintain our personal relationship with Him, how effectively we manage our home, and how devotedly we love our husband and children to indicate how well we could manage a ministry. He uses the primary area of ministering at home to prepare us for training in other areas outside of the home. Live as though you’re accountable for the condition that your home is in and the condition of each person’s heart who lives in it. Because you are. You’re accountable to God for how you treat everyone, including your spouse and kids.

“In the dictionary, the word ‘hospitality’ falls someplace between hospital and hostel. One, a place of healing, and the other, a place of refuge. That’s really all anyone wants when they come to your home. Hospitality offers healing and refuge to those who enter your home. They want to feel whole, safe, and welcomed.” The Bible tells us to “practice” hospitality meaning we don’t have to get it right but we have to keep trying at it.

Don’t be discouraged by the times that you fail to live up to God’s standards or carry out your role as a wife, mother, or minister to others. Simply trying is what’s important. Trying over and over again to love God and love others is why we’re here. It’s what life is all about. Since we weren’t immediately taken up to Heaven to be with God after accepting Christ as our Savior and confessing our belief in Him, we know that we’re left here for a reason: To glorify Him in all that we do so that His name would be made known among all people. This mission begins at home with the people God has blessed us with and entrusted into our care.

Priority #4 our ministry- Throughout her book, Elizabeth touches on the importance of attending church regularly (for our sake and for our children’s sake) and being involved in church. It’s good for us in order to learn the Bible, to give worship, praise and thanks to God collectively, to fellowship and serve one another through our words, prayer and deeds. I’ll add that it’s also good for us to have the opportunity to test and walk out what we’ve been learning. We learn from God’s Word how to live, treat one another and deal with life’s problems. Attending church and being part of a body of believers gives us opportunities to show if what we’ve been learning about God and becoming more like Christ is having an affect on us and actually changing us. This is the hard part.

But besides the importance of attending and being involved at church, we are called to share the gospel. Have you noticed with every story in the Bible about Jesus healing someone or someone coming to know and trust in Him as the Son of God, he always tells them, “Now go and tell others what I have done for you” or “Now go and tell others about what has happened here.” Basically, if you’ve come to know who God is and accepted Christ as your Savior because of the good news, then you’re called to share that knowledge and good news with others. If you’ve been healed and changed by God then you’re called to give Him the glory and make his name known to others. Tell your story, make disciples, teach the next generation, spread the gospel! We’re all qualified and called to minister. We don’t have to be church pastor to do this. We’ve all been given gifts, resources and passions by the Spirit to do good works and carry out God’s will in our life- to help others and point them to Him. This is the other primary reason that we’re here on earth! As women in the church, we’re called to be givers and encouragers (1 Corinthians 15:58, Luke 6:30-38, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Proverbs 22:9, Proverbs 12:25, Colossians 4:6, Isaiah 50:4). By simply being a woman after God’s own heart, you are living out a powerful ministry to other women and people who see you! I say simply, although it’s obviously not simple. It’s a life-long mission and transformation by the Lord himself.  

Whew! Deep breath… That is, in a nutshell, the premise of this good book! I’ve got two more chapters left before our ladies’ small group wraps it up this weekend. It comes with a companion study guide and study workbook if you’d like to get one or both of those to do as a group or on your own. They have questions to help you go deeper in understanding and applying these principles to your life.

Needless to say, I have numerous things I’d like to change in my life and apply from now on as a result of this book showing me what it means to be a woman who is after God’s heart!


  1. It sounds like a great book, and you had me convinced to buy it, until the priority part. I have no husband, children, or home (I live in a room in someone else's house, so I have a room :)...do you think the majority of the book would still be applicable, or does much of it focus on these things? Or maybe put it on the shelf for "when I get married"? I am always looking for great scripture based books, so thank you for the recommendation :)

  2. You're welcome! I'm glad you're even considering it :-) I'm glad you raised that question b/c I forgot to touch on that in my post.

    YES i would recommend any girl or young adult woman reading it now! You don't have to wait until you're married to start being concerned about your marriage, future home, and motherhood. I started reading books for married couples when I was 17 (I didn't meet my husband until I was 22 then we didn't get married until I was 23). It was important to me to learn all I could to prepare me for that next season in life. It can be overwhelming to enter a new phase and then start reading scripture and godly counsel on it.

    The author covers many other important things in the book than just these 4 priorities. Of course, the ministry one is already applicable to you! And so is the home. Even if you're single and living alone or with girl friends, you still have a home and room to take care of.

    The chapters on serving your husband and mothering your children only make up about 4 chapters. The rest focuses on being a woman who abandons herself to following God's will and being more like Christ.

    But it's never too early to start considering your future husband and children and preparing your life and heart for them :-)