“A woman’s work is never done.” We feel it at the end of the day. I felt it yesterday. I had a mountain of laundry, dinner to fix, and a puppy getting into everything. By 8:30, dinner was cleaned up, kids’ homework done, and I just had to quit. I was exhausted.
When it comes to our home we, almost instinctively, know what needs done. You know how to grocery shop. You know how to cook dinner. You know the dishes need washed afterwards. You know when the bathroom needs cleaned and the trash needs to go out. You know when the kids need baths and their teeth need brushed. You know this stuff and could do it blindfolded and backwards.
So why is it different when it comes to church? Why are we always asking this question? What is a woman’s role in ministry?
We misunderstand ministry.
Our Western eyes have elevated ministry to something Jesus didn’t. We listen to dynamic preachers and stand out worship leaders and assume that their jobs are somehow the pinnacle of church work.
Did you know the word ministry comes from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning “to serve” or douleuo, meaning “to serve as a slave?”
“To serve as a slave.” That’s a major paradigm shift.
It isn’t being a flashy, headlining preacher. It isn’t packing the house for a night of charismatic praise. It isn’t being a world-renown bible teacher or a theological PhD.
It is, quite literally, being a slave.
Our culture has devalued women’s created purpose.
When I had my first child, and lacked confidence in my role as a stay-at-home mom, a co-worker of my mother asked me what I was doing in life. When I told her I was a stay-at-home mom, she said, “Well, if that’s all you can do.”
Almost 23 years later I still remember the shrinking feeling that overcame me in that moment. Twenty-three years later I would also have a much different response.
Girls, we are daughters of Eve, the mother of all living things. She gave life born of her body. It’s where we all came from. Mary, the mother of God, delivered salvation through her womb. This is cataclysmic stuff here. This carries eternal weight. Motherhood is literally life and salvation.
Marriage is degraded.
When God created Eve, she was God’s response to the cry of Adam’s heart. Adam had no companion his equal.
God called Eve the ezer kenegdo. This phrase gets translated in several ways, but Robert Alter’s gets to the soul- sustainer beside him; lifesaver.
The only other person who is referred to in those terms is God himself in relation to Israel in times of distress. Being a wife is big deal.
Serving single is dismissed.
Unmarried ladies, raise your hand if church folks ever ask, “So when you gettin’ married?”
Go ahead, scream next time.
Widowed Anna, the prophetess, dedicated her life to service in the temple. Through that service she announced the arrival of Messiah. Again, epic stuff.
So when you are trying to define women’s ministry start with a biblical perspective not a cultural one. When you are searching for your own ministry, dig into the word to find it.
The bible actually has a couple lists of the things our ministry should entail.
This one, regarding widows indeed, is found in 1 Timothy 5. It addresses women who lost their husbands but because of their service to the church, were able to be financially supported by the church. Even though there was an intended audience here, this is broad teaching that can help us answer the question.
- Faithful to her husband
- Well-known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children
- Showing hospitality
- Washing the feet of the Lord’s people
- Helping those in trouble
- Devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds
So whether you are defining women’s ministry in a general sense or developing your own personal ministry, start with a biblical perspective, search the word. And in all things pray.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.- Jesus