After the conclusion of the First World War, US President Woodrow Wilson was recognized as one of the most powerful leaders on earth. But few knew that after a devastating stroke in 1919, it was his wife who managed nearly all of his affairs, determining which issues should be brought to his attention. In fact, modern historians believe that for a short while, it was really Edith Wilson who served as the president of the United States.
If asked to name the leaders of the early church, most of us would list Peter, Paul, and Timothy as a handful possessing well-documented gifts. But in Romans 16, Paul lists nearly forty people of diverse backgrounds—men, women, slaves, Jews, and gentiles—all of whom contributed to the life of the church in diverse ways.
And far from considering them second-rate members of the church, it’s clear that Paul held these people in the highest regard. He describes them as outstanding among the apostles (v. 7)—people to be celebrated for their service for Jesus.
Many of us feel that we’re too ordinary to be leaders in the church. But the truth is that each of us has gifts that can be used to serve and help others. In God’s strength, let’s use our gifts to His honor!
As a member of the body of Christ, why should you never feel like you’re unimportant? What are some ways you can serve the people in your church?
In Paul’s letters, he shows his appreciation for his fellow workers in the gospel by naming them, which gives us a window into his pastoral heart. He wasn’t just a great theologian; he was also a mentor and dependable friend. As he concludes his letter to the Romans (ch. 16), Paul specifically names those who tirelessly co-labored with him in the gospel. That many of these were women attests to the significant roles women played in the church. In Colossians, Paul warmly singled out ten associates—Jews and gentiles, slaves and free men, men and women (4:7–18). In the book of Acts and Paul’s New Testament letters combined, he expressed his appreciation and concern for some eighty fellow workers (see 2 Timothy 1:15–18; 4:9–22; Titus 3:12–13).