Shrewd as a Serpent, Innocent as a Dove | Margo Tirado
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Shrewd as a  Serpent, Innocent as a Dove

“Be Shrewd as a Serpent, yet Innocent as a Dove”

All women absorb messages during their lifetimes, and these messages have a profound influence on a woman’s voice.  Women—especially women of faith—receive numerous messages  about how they are supposed to behave and these messages influence a woman’s voice.

Sometimes we give specific messages more value than others, such as…be gentle, be kind, be patient, be loving, be innocent.These are powerful and truthful messages. As women of faith, we should treasure the pursuit of these qualities in our character.

On the contrary, as women, how many times have we been given these messages:

Be hyper-vigilant, guarded, calculating, astute. Be marked by a practical and hard-headed intelligence. BE SHREWD! Do place as much value on developing these characteristics as we do on being innocent, kind and patient?

Think about the definition of the word “shrewd.” It means to show sharp powers of judgment, to be astute, sharp-witted, intelligent, clever, canny, sagacious, perceptive and savvy.Being shrewd is a great quality to have.

Let’s pause for a moment and really reflect on the message given to us from the Book of Matthew:

“Be shrewd as a serpent, yet innocent as a dove.” Matthew 10:16.

Do you hear it? This powerful instruction puts as much emphasis on being shrewd as it does on being innocent. In fact, it suggests we should put equal weight on both qualities when we make decisions. We should not be more innocent than we are shrewd; we should pursue a fifty-fifty balance.

In my blog post “Create a Meaningful Ruckus,”  I wrote about the tendency of the feminine soul to associate the feeling of tension caused by rocking the boat with having done something wrong. This tendency may be rooted in the fact that women have often absorbed more messages about being loving, kind, and innocent and fewer about being calculating, savvy, and shrewd.

I would estimate that within our church walls, 90% of messages created for women emphasize patience, love, and kindness, and fewer than 10% of messages emphasize the importance of being shrewd. Yet, according to the book of Matthew, these character attributes should have equal weight.

Quite frequently I observe women in my counseling office feeling guilty when their circumstances require them to act shrewdly.  They have not yet created a mindset that being shrewd is as honorable, valuable, and imperative as being innocent.

Why must we equally weigh being shrewd with being kind in all of our decisions and interactions?  Because shrewdness prevents us from confusing being kind, loving and gentle with having a high tolerance for crap.  There is simply no other way of saying that, my friends.

In order to find your voice and create more balance in your decision-making process, be both innocent and shrewd.

I hope these insights encourage you to find your Voice!



Do you give yourself permission to be shrewd and calculating? Or do you put more emphasis on developing a character based on being innocent and kind?

Do you find that overemphasizing being innocent and underestimating the value of being shrewd leads you into relationships or circumstances that create having a high tolerance for crap?

Is there a decision you are currently making where you need to practice being shrewder and less innocent in order to bring balance to your thought process?

How does meditating on Matthew 10:16 reduce the false guilt you may have about being more calculating, shrewd, and hyper-vigilant?

Have you been given the message that you need to be shrewd, lately? If so, did you resist or absorb that message?

I look forward to your thoughts, comments and dialogue!


If you have found this post helpful or insightful, please share it with the women in your life!



  • Janis Posted November 22, 2016 4:37 pm

    I have been working on this exact topic lately in my personal growth and welcome the affirmation that I am on the right track! Thank you!!

    • Margo Tirado Posted November 22, 2016 5:57 pm

      I am so glad that this message resonates with you, Janis. You are on the right track, indeed. Thanks for sharing>

  • Jade Posted November 30, 2016 7:48 pm

    A lot of us women still hold back because we’ve had the role of being polite, patient and kind. But I’m glad to see more and more women speaking up and not holding back their thoughts even if it means she will be perceived differently.

    • Margo Tirado Posted November 30, 2016 10:12 pm

      Thank you Jade for sharing your voice and encouraging other women to honor their voices!

      • Eliz Posted March 17, 2022 1:25 am

        Do you find that overemphasizing being innocent and underestimating the value of being shrewd leads you into relationships or circumstances that create having a high tolerance for crap?
        Yes I foolishly let myself relax and trust a relationship where I was not getting anything but hurt while I was getting everything taken from me.
        I let it make me suicidal in the end.
        Now I am just discovering what shrewd means, and learning more about it on my new path of being strong confident not taking crap and loving myself.

  • Lisa Posted June 8, 2022 5:26 pm

    I wish this message was taught more as I was growing as a Woman of Christ. The Holy Spirit is now teaching me the importance if having both you so put it ” find my voice” Thank You for this article..

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