1NOW I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae,
2That you may receive her in the Lord [with a Christian welcome], as saints (God's people) ought to receive one another. And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many including myself [shielding us from suffering].
Although that is all that is said of her in the word, a little background might give you more of a clue into this dynamic early Christian leader (executive). She is thought to be the missionary who delivered the letter to the Romans from Paul. I am wondering if I should hit the issue of women in church leadership in this post, or if I should refrain from the politics and proclaim, as I have been, that women have a role.
I think I'll compromise and give as best an answer as I feel comfortable. In the bible, sisters have been called to all manner of servanthood: Leader, minister, deacon, scholar, layworkers, caregivers, healers, prophets...the list goes on. I believe God calls us into service with the gifts that he has gifted us with as a primary consideration. I toss gender out there with the other human-obsessive issues that divide us from the LORD. I think it was appropriate when God says, "Am I man that I should lie?" I say this, but with all sincerity, I believe that churches teach what they teach because most of the church leaders feel genuinely compelled to teach what they teach. The important thing to me is that you find a bible-based church,and you stand in agreement with the over-arching principals of the church. If the church is not fulfilling you, and/or you are not in agreement with the teaching, it is your prerogative to find a church that does.
Okay, enough about that. I think over the past two months, I've more than demonstrated that God did not--categorically did not--create the female gender to be a second-class citizen. We are made in his image...that being said, lets look at Pheobe.
From what we can gather she is a single woman of independent means who housed the Church at Chenchrea in her home. She undertook this missionary trip to Rome on behalf of Paul, who thought highly of her ministry and her loyalty and support. Think of the verses above and think of them as a "networking" introduction. Paul was recommending, vouching for, the executive in Pheobe that she might be utilized by the Roman church the the best of her gifts.
There is no record for how long she remained in Rome...but one thing is sure, she made an impact and her ministry was successful...how do we know this? You have read the Letter to the Romans, have you not?*smile
I think the lesson we take from Pheobe, my sister executives, are the following:
* Networking with Other Christians is both a right and a duty.
* Fearlessness in Ministry, our Homes, and our Businesses in crucial.
* Steadfastness to purpose is germane to success.
* Moving with Grace and a Servants mentality will set us apart from the rest.
Amazing, huh? Didn't you just read that in the latest self-help, inspiration book? I always think its amazing that priniciples that can be gleaned from a book written centuries ago are still be re-tooled and re-fashioned. God forbid anyone realize they are steeped in Christian principles, we might just get a divine clue on our lives and call in common sense.*smile