In her book, "Story of a Soul", Saint Therese embraces a fresh servant leadership approach known as “The Little Way”. She encourages us to follow the lead and needs of others while acknowledging, recognizing, and promoting their efforts. Saying, "rather than aspiring to doing great deeds, do many small deeds with great love." I hope this blog inspires others in the same way St. Therese and others have inspired me.
With a great affinity for St. Therese’s life, I have come to know the “Little Way” along with its philosophy of “following the lead and needs of others with great love.” What I did not realize until I awoke one morning last week was that St. Therese’ life demonstrated in very real ways the beauty and strength, the self-reliance and discipline described in the Proverbs 31 verses. This realization compelled me to seek out not only the real truth, but also the misconceptions surrounding these verses.
In the Book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible, Proverbs 31 describes the qualities of a woman of good character. Most notably, the 10th to 31st verses of this chapter is known as “Eishes Chayil”. Traditionally, this term translates to mean “virtuous” or “noble.” However, many scholars now suggest the true meaning of the term as “forceful,” “mighty,” or “valiant” with the term being used almost exclusively in reference to warfare. Apparently, back then as is now, a “woman of good character” is not only viewed as a cherished life partner, but a powerful entrepreneur too!
Like many of you out there, before taking a closer look, I too had misconceptions about Proverbs 31; most notably I thought the verses were only directed toward women. What’s more, I had visions of home confinement, having to surrender my strengths, only to become weak; having to surrender my independence, only to become dependent on another; and having to surrender control of my life and my voice, only to have decisions made for me. Upon learning the history and carefully reading Proverbs 31, however, I learned a male chauvinist did not write the verse with the purpose of dictating how a woman should behave to benefit him. In fact, I was surprised to learn that the verses were offered as loving advise from King Lemmuel’s Mother to her son about the qualities that empowered both men and women along with the relationship they shared. While the chapter focused on the qualities of a woman of good character, it also implied a man of good character when read between the lines, for why would a woman follow a man’s lead only to be mistreated? I found Proverbs 31 to be a beautiful portrait illustrating a loving relationship between man and woman as a dynamic, mutually rewarding partnership; one that a woman followed a man’s lead and the man in return followed a woman’s needs.
Proverbs 31 also placed a high priority on family life along with the practice of wisdom within the home. The thought is that learning wisdom at the home not only taught family members to relate to one another, but also taught them to relate to others in the real world as you would family members – whether it be socially, professionally, spiritually, or romantically. In ministering to one another, the needs of others took precedence before our own. In loving and encouraging others to reach their full potential in all areas of life, we also helped our loved ones reach the kingdom of heaven.
As I started to read and learn about Proverbs 31, the deep meaning behind the verses slowly sunk in. It became clear that in our quest to belong to the secular world, we often misinterpret God’s Word. In taking a closer look at Proverbs 31, I discovered the secular world to be far more demeaning to women with the message of the Gospel far more liberating. In future posts, I will share my thoughts on the meaning behind the 10th to 31st verses of Proverbs 31 and how they may apply to life today.
Why? Leave a legacy…
Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my community, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.
Many equate good leadership with exerting control; whether it be control of people, information, technology, events, or themselves. With time though the truly wise individual realizes they have little control over anything in life. In fact, the most effective leader is one who listens to then follows a path meeting the needs, interests, wants, and desires of his or her people. Tao Te Ching says it best:
The river carves out the valley by flowing beneath it.
Thereby the river is the master of the valley.
In order to master people
One must speak as their servant;
In order to lead people
One must follow them.
So when the sage rises above the people,
They do not feel oppressed;
And when the sage stands before the people,
They do not feel hindered.
So the popularity of the sage does not fail,
He does not contend, and no one contends against him.
~Tao Te Ching
Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.
In her book, "Story of a Soul", Saint Therese de Lisieux embraces a fresh leadership approach. Known as “The Little Way”, she encourages us to follow the lead and needs of others while acknowledging, recognizing, and promoting their efforts. Saying, "rather than aspiring to doing great deeds" she asks us to "do many small deeds with great love." With this philosophy in mind, I created this blog to inspire others in the same way as others have inspired me.
About St. Therese
For generations, many have admired this young saint known as the "Little Flower", finding more inspiration in her short life than in their own lives. Yet Therese died when she was only 24, after having lived as a cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was a brief edited version of her journal called "Story of a Soul." Yet within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great she was canonized. Over the years, some modern Catholics have turned away from her because they view her message as being too simple and child-like. Yet as simple as her message may be, it remains as compelling to us now as it was almost a century ago.