“It’s not fair,” she objected. “Why can’t women preach? Why can’t they preside in the worship assembly?”
In recent years there has been much discussion about the expanded role of women in ministry. Restrictions regarding their public role based on Scripture have been argued, discussed and debated.
Some are frustrated by what they view as an outdated, old-fashioned and even misogynistic view toward Christian women that is deemed oppressive and hurtful.
However, it seems that focus is too often on what women can’t do instead of what they can do. This morning I was reminded again of the wonderful work of women in ministry as I was reading Luke 8:1-3.
“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.”
Women were valuable to the ministry of Jesus. These three women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna are specifically named. But this passage says there were many other women who were apparently women of means who financially supported the work of our Lord.
Through the years, I have known of many godly women who’ve been a source of financial strength to the church. Without fanfare, they not only contribute generously to the common treasury but give individually to those in need.
The apostle Paul mentions Phoebe, whom he identifies as “a servant of the church” in Romans 16:1-2. He says that she has been “a helper of many and of myself also.” What did she do? How did she help? Who all did she assist? We’re not specifically told. Some suggest she was the messenger that carried Paul’s letter to the Roman church. Regardless, when she arrived he instructed them to assist in whatever way she needed. Phoebe, like so many women I have known, had infinite value to the church.
It is the women who sometimes more often than men visit the sick, assist the needy, prepare and deliver food when needed, cheer up the elderly, write notes of encouragement, support the weak, and call or text with words of encouragement. I know because I’m married to such a woman who often puts me to shame with her tireless work of ministry in serving the needs of others.
Women also are wonderful teachers. You don’t have to be a pulpit preacher to minister in the word. In the New Testament church, Priscilla assisted her husband Aquila in teaching the eloquent Apollos “the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:24-26). Paul called them both his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Rom. 16:3).
Timothy, the young preacher and protege of Paul, was firmly grounded in the Scripture because of the teaching of his grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice. His father was a Greek and apparently not a Christian. But these women made a difference in the Kingdom through Timothy. How many men are preaching the gospel today because of the influence of a godly mother or grandmother?
I can relate to Timothy. My mother was a tremendous influence in my life and a great encourager in my ministry. And her faith had its beginning in her mother who faithfully taught her and her siblings what it meant to be a Christian. The God-given role to the woman as wife and mother, encouraging and influencing her family for good is of incalculable value.
Today women are finding more and more opportunities to teach through blogs, lectureships, writing books, workshops, marriage seminars, and retreats. Only God knows the good that our Sisters are accomplishing through these various means.
Let’s refrain from demeaning, dismissing or diminishing the role of women in the church. Let us celebrate their work. Honor their ministry. And thank them for their service.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman