Romans 16:1-2 (NKJV)
“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord… and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.”
When Paul looked at those who labored with him in the ministry, he did not commend everyone, at least not in the way he commended Phoebe. But why did he commend her? Firstly, it was because she was a “servant” of the church. This lady did not come across as the boss or someone who wanted others to serve her. On the contrary, she wanted to serve and looked for opportunities to serve God’s people. Truly, God has called us to be servants and not controllers of others. Nobody is called into leadership, and those who lead are actually called into service. That’s why the NLT translates “servant” as “deacon.” Phoebe was a leader in the church, but she led through serving others.
In Paul’s words (NLT), “Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people.” Why? Because, “for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.” As a servant-hearted lady, she always went all out to help those in need, and irrespective of your class or position, she reached out to help in whatever way she could. This is what brings true honor in the eyes of God. It’s not the public showmanship that characterizes ministry money. True leadership deserving of commendation is in the service of God’s people. Seek out opportunities to serve, not looking for honor or commendation, and let God honor you if He chooses to, in His own way or time. Phoebe is an example worth emulating, and honor awaits those who choose to serve and help God’s people. Service leads to honor, and true service does not seek honor.
“Lord, open my eyes to see and my heart to be willing to serve others. Lord, the honor of men matters little to me, but as I serve Your people, I know You will honor me in due season. Teach me to keep serving faithfully. In Jesus name. Amen.”