Show and (Don’t) Tell

I can wash out forty four pairs of socks and have ’em hangin’ out on the line
I can starch and iron two dozen shirts ‘fore you can count from one to nine
I can scoop up a great big dipper full of lard from the drippin’s can
Throw it in the skillet, go out and do my shopping, be back before it melts in the pan
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

I can rub and scrub til this old house is shinin’ like a dime
Feed the baby, grease the car, and powder my face at the same time
Get all dressed up, go out and swing ’til four A.M. and then
Lay down at five, jump up at six, and start all over again
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

If you come to me sickly you know I’m gonna make you well
If you come to me all hexed up you know I’m gonna break the spell
If you come to me hungry you know I’m gonna fill you full of grits
If it’s lovin’ you’re likin’, I’ll kiss you and give you the shiverin’ fits
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

I got a twenty dollar gold piece says there ain’t nothing I can’t do
I can make a dress out of a feed bag and I can make a man out of you

‘Cause I’m a woman! A W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, and that’s all

– “I’m a Woman” by Peggy Lee

Women who read the lyrics to this song will most likely experience one of two knee-jerk reactions:

“Oh my, somebody’s a little over-confident. Ha!”


“Yes, that sounds just like me! Finally someone understands!”

If you fall into the first camp, it’s likely that you have a healthy view of your womanhood. However, if you fall into the second camp, your self-perspective just might need some adjusting. There is a dangerous tendency in humans to “think of themselves more highly than they ought to think”, as Paul warned about in Romans 12:3. This prideful thinking leads to unseemly and ungodly boasting, which a God-fearing woman will avoid like the plague.

Are you guilty of boasting? I’m afraid that this is a sin that often goes unrecognized, as it’s used among many women in everyday conversation. Practical examples include…

“Oh yes, I always do the yearly taxes for our family. You know how us wives are, just regular secretaries!”

“After I drop Jimmy off at soccer practice, I have to rush Timmy over to his piano lessons. You know how us moms are, chauffeuring everyone around all the time…”

“If I’m not cooking a meal, I’m grocery shopping for cooking a meal, or I’m prepping for cooking a meal, or I’m cleaning up after cooking a meal. You know how us homemakers are…we practically live in the kitchen.”

Boasting is not necessarily shouting, “I’m the best”, as you fly a flag bearing your name on it (though that would certainly fall into the category of boasting). More often, boasting is subtly sneaked in to conversation. Because it is part of our fleshly nature as humans to point to our own accomplishments, many women perhaps don’t even realize when they are boasting. Nevertheless, when we draw attention to ourselves by self-praising our roles as wives, mothers, etc. it is boasting. It is not humble. It is not meek. It is not discreet. A boast should no sooner escape a Christian woman’s lips than a swear word, a lie, or a cutting remark. While it may be tempting to seek compliments and approval from others, God calls us to serve in humility. He calls us to duty and self-sacrifice. He calls us to meekly and quietly perform good deeds, without seeking a pat on the back. As wives and mothers, the name of our game should be: show and (don’t) tell.

Today, I want to share with you two reasons that you and I don’t need boasting in our lives. Reason #1:

As a Christian woman, my aims in life are pretty straightforward:

  • Fear the Lord (Proverbs 31:30)
  • Help the husband (Genesis 2:18)
  • Raise the children (1 Timothy 2:15)
  • Keep the home (Titus 2:4)

Do I have any right to boast about performing these duties that the Lord expects of me? Not according to Jesus! He says:

…when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ – Luke 17:10b

Being a God-fearing wife, mother, and homemaker is my job. To consider myself as more than an unworthy slave would be prideful, and to boast about my deeds would be ludicrous. I was made for this job, and every task I perform therein ought to be for the glory of God, not for the applause of humans. Ask yourself which reward is more gratifying: the praise of men, or of our Lord? We can’t seek after both…

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 6:1

Of course, there will be times where people will notice our work and praise us, and that’s a-okay. As long as we are not self-praising, or actively seeking the praise of others, it is appropriate to modestly receive compliments from others (though we must always be aware of keeping our egos in check).

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:2

Be content to do your work quietly and and joyfully, and your reputation will precede you in the Kingdom of God…

Give her the product of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. – Proverbs 31:31

Show and (don’t) tell!

The most laudable and effective way to promote ourselves is to allow our works rather than our tongue to do it.

Leroy Brownlow, Thoughts of Gold

Reason #2 that you and I don’t need boasting in our lives…

I absolutely love being a woman. It truly is a joy to be in the role God created me for. All my life, I desired to be a wife, a mother, and a homemaker; and now I get to live that dream! I am in my happy place when I am at home with my family. I feel my best when I am being productive and needed. See, when you truly love doing something, you will rarely feel the need to boast when you do it…

  • The musician does not boast about how many hours he “drudges away” at his piano bench…it feels like mere minutes to him for his joy of the instrument.
  • The chef does not boast about how he “slaves over a hot cook-stove”…it hardly feels like labor to him for his joy of making delightful dishes.
  • The nanny does not boast about how she “wrangles rugrats”…it feels like playtime to her for her joy of spending time with little ones.

Like the old adage says, “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. These kinds of “jobs” are more like hobbies to an individual suited to the task. Well, I am suited to the task of being a wife, mom, and homemaker. Why would I feel the need to boast about performing a job that is pure joy to me? Such boasting is a sort of gluttony, eating up joy twice: once in the performing of the task, and then again in seeking praise for doing so…

It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory. – Proverbs 25:27

Boasting is arrogant. It speaks only of love for self, and nothing for the love of others.

…love does not brag… – excerpt from 1 Corinthians 13:4

Our roles as women are nothing short of a gift from God. Let us joyfully and humbly accept His gifts without putting on airs.

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? – 1 Corinthians 4:7

Show and (don’t) tell!

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

– Rabindranath Tagore

In conclusion…

I am resolved not to boast about myself, or my roles as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Why should I boast? After all, this is my job, and this is my joy! All of us ought to allow our deeds to speak for themselves, and kick the habit of self-praise, A.K.A. boasting, to the curb.

If you think you just don’t have it in you to abolish the habit of boasting altogether, then Scripture provides an alternative. You can amend your boasting to align with Jeremiah 9:23-24:

Thus says the Lord, “let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. [emphasis added]

For the Christian, there is only one proper way to boast…and that is in and of our Maker. Of Him we may freely show and tell.

He who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends. – 2 Corinthians 10:15b-16

For God’s glory,
Mrs. Dustin Bolks

Chaste Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.