A Modern Lady's Manners
By Dr. Emily Dean, Coordinator of Women's Programs
In the previous post, I introduced the idea of what it means to be a modern lady in a swiftly changing culture. As the culture changes, so do rules of etiquette. I mean, who really knows the etiquette rules for social media and technology use? To post or not to post? To like or not like? To share or not to share? I saw a sign on the door of a business the other day that said in a funny but polite way essentially to leave your cell phone outside. While opinions differ on specific rules of etiquette, especially with the rise of technology use in the 21st century, the general concept behind polite manners remains unchanged.
Did you know that the Proverbs have a lot to say about manners? Some are quite funny but yet speak an important truth. The Proverbs are full of common sense guidelines for how to treat others. The book contains 31 chapters, so I would encourage you to start at the beginning of a month and read a chapter a day. You will be amazed at the modern application you will find in this timeless wisdom.
Here are a few examples:
1. Be considerate of your neighbors -
“If one blesses his neighbor with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse to him.” Proverbs 27:14 HCSB
Who is my neighbor you ask? Jesus was asked the same question in Luke 10 when he taught that we should love our neighbors. To answer, he shared a story about an unlikely man who helped out a total stranger. Anyone can be your neighbor. That can include the person sitting next to you while you are talking on your cell phone, or the person on the opposite side of the political or theological fence from you. Being a good neighbor includes being considerate of others.
2. Use good sense -
“A beautiful woman who rejects good sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.” Proverbs 11:22 HCSB
This one always amuses me as I picture giving expensive jewelry to a pig. It seems absurd. So too, beauty without wisdom is wasted. We all have the ability to use good sense and seek wisdom from the Lord. That’s where true beauty comes from. When it comes to etiquette regarding social media and technology, my rule of thumb is when in doubt, don’t shout it out! (Or post, share, like, etc.)
3. Avoid nagging -
“Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:9 HCSB
Wives or not, all women can be tempted to nag others. Our temptation to nag usually stems from a need for control. We learn early in life that if we pester others long enough, we might get our way. Yikes! Do I really use the same tactics sometimes as my preschool child? Sitting on our roof in the New Orleans heat would be a miserable way to spend the day. I would hope my behavior would not cause my husband to want to endure that misery over being inside having a conversation with me! In Ecclesiastes 3:7 we find there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak.” Wisdom is learning to distinguish the appropriate timing between the two.
4. Stay humble –
“When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 HCSB
This proverb is not so funny, but oh so true. There is nothing funny about the disgrace that comes when we fall on our faces as a result of prideful behavior. Humility before the Lord is the key to wisdom. When we have humble hearts, we are open to letting the Lord teach us how to treat others. If we have prideful hearts, then even if we use polite manners, we are doing so out of our own self-interests. Humble hearts seek the good of others by putting others before ourselves, using good sense that comes from God’s wisdom, and learning when to speak and when to stay silent.
A modern lady uses her manners. Culture changes, but treating people with kindness and grace never goes out of style.
Dr. Emily Dean serves as Adjunct Faculty and Coordinator of Women’s Programs at NOBTS. You can follow her at emilywdean.com.