Seeing the importance that Lydia played in Paul’s missionary work and was quite possibly “a missionary before Paul met her” (Polhill, p. 161) reinforces my belief that God uses women in leadership. It is interesting to me that she is the one described, not her husband or father. “Lydia was a major player in the Philippian church’s pattern of supporting Paul financially” (p. 162). Polhill goes on to state that “one is also impressed with the extensive role that women played in the Philippian church…” (ibid). It is always encouraging for me, a woman in leadership and pastor, to see evidence of women in leadership in the early church. Another example of women leaders is found in chapter 3 when Paul addressed the two women who were “‘contending’ together with him in the gospel” (p. 175). Polhill describes them as possible “leaders of house churches” (ibid).My professor's response thrilled my soul, "The many obvious examples of the empowerment of women in leadership in the Pauline epistles and Acts give us ample reason to assume that these women were in fact leading at all levels from the early days of the church."
Paul not only acknowledged the women in leadership in the early church, he encouraged them in their roles, accepted them as pastors and missionaries and made no distinction between them as female leaders and the male leaders in his letters.
Quakers have long held women in the same light as men. I am thankful that I was raised in a home that encouraged me to be the leader God made me and continues to support me today as I journey down the road of church leadership, ministering, and life.
Polhill, J. (1999). Paul and his letters. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
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