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June 12 – Fit to Serve?

If you’ve ever seen those awards programs on TV you probably know what shout outs are. A person wins their award, they come up on stage and get their trophy, and then they begin thanking the people who helped them along the way. Sometimes we hear all about the person’s history as they go back to their Kindergarten teacher and the influence they had. Shout outs are a nice way of recognizing people who have become important in a person’s life.

It’s important to recognize that other people have an effect on our lives. Sometimes it’s because we interact with them in person; at other times it’s because we know of their work. Were I to give a shout out for inspiration in this writing, other than God, it would be for Paul. Even though I never met him, his writings inspire me. Paul, in Romans 16, begins a whole series of shout outs to people who have been serving in the church of God and have been important to him. He begins with an interesting one. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.” (Romans 16:1)

I find this interesting because it assigns a title to a woman that many churches might have problems with: a woman deacon. Many churches have had major discussions over whether or not a woman could be a deacon or a pastor. It wasn’t that they had problems with women doing many of the jobs that deacons or pastors did, but they sure didn’t want to give women the title. What they forget is that the word “deacon” wasn’t originally a title, it was a verb that talked about service in the church. Paul, in the list in Romans 16, gave shout outs not only Phoebe for her service, but a lot of other people: men and women.

Perhaps that’s the key we need to remember: our goal as followers of Christ is not gaining titles, it’s doing the work the God has set in front of us. A friend of mine put it this way that at his church, he was the pastor, but the ministers were all the members. The whole discussion that still exists now about “women in ministry” is ridiculous if you think about the calling of God on a person’s life instead of getting a title: women have been involved in ministry throughout the history of the Church and in many of those churches that don’t believe in “women ministers,” women are doing far more ministry than men. I think each of us would be better served by seeking to follow God’s call in our lives than worrying about God’s call in the lives of others; and we should avoid telling God whom He can call and to what. So I ask you now: where is God calling you to serve? Are you serving according to His call?

Oh Lord, You’ve called me to serve You and too often, like Peter worrying about John, I worry about what others are doing. Help me to be faithful to your call on my life and serve You with all I do.


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