What does Lydia’s example show us about women in ministry?

Women in Paul’s Ministry

Women are also part of the ministry God gave Paul. Paul has received a lot of negative attention for his teaching on women in ministry. He has been accused of being a sexist, male chauvinist pig who sought to belittle women in their desire to worship and serve God. But, was Paul really antiwomen, or did he see a place for women in ministry? Let’s find out.

Lydia (Acts 16:11-15, 40)

I love Lydia’s story. There’s something about her that I connect with. In Acts 16:6-10, God gives Paul a burden (or calling) to go to Macedonia. One evening, Paul had a vision of a man calling him to come and help him. So, they went. Scripture says that Paul, Timothy, Silas, and Luke were in Phillipi (a city in Macedonia) several days before the Sabbath. On the Sabbath they went out of the city to the place that is known for prayer. There were women present, and the men began to talk to them. One woman, Lydia, “a worshipper of God,” believed what Paul was saying about Jesus, and she put her faith in Christ. Lydia became the first convert in the European continent. I find it fascinating, and even humorous, that the “man” calling Paul to help him turned out to be a woman.

Lydia was probably a wealthy woman due to her business. She made and sold purple cloth, which was an expensive cloth sold mainly to royalty and the wealthy. Her wealth allowed her a large enough home to house Paul and his associates. Scripture actually says that Lydia tested the men. She said they could prove to her they believed the validity of her conversion by staying at her house. She was persistent in hospitality. Eventually, a church began in Phillipi, and Paul wrote to them about the joy they brought to him because of their faith (Phil 1:3-11). (Before moving on, go back and read Acts 16. Lydia’s story is amazing.)

Are you willing to allow your home to be used for ministry? If not, what’s stopping you? If so, share a story of how you’ve been blessed by people you’ve hosted. 

What does Lydia’s example show us about women in ministry? 

Lydia’s conversion to Christ indicates Paul valued women and their eternal salvation. This Scripture passage doesn’t mention men present at the place of prayer. However, Paul and his associates didn’t shy away from engaging in spiritual conversations with them. Secondly, Lydia was a businesswoman As we have learned, Scripture teaches that the primary job a woman is called to do is to care for her home. But, Scripture also shows examples of women who owned their own businesses and used that money for ministry. Ladies, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for ministry. God uses all of us in very different ways to accomplish the same goal – the spread of the gospel.

Lastly, God used Lydia’s home as the beginning place for the spread of the gospel on the European continent. Some egalitarians teach that Lydia’s conversation and use of her home to begin the church in Europe shows that Jesus’ death and resurrection obliterated any gender roles for the New Testament church. Yet, if you read Acts 16, there is no mention of Lydia having a teaching or leading role over the men or the church that met in her house. Instead, Scripture focuses solely on her hospitality to Paul an his associates. Lydia continued to be an influence in the church of Phillipi (yes an influence), and she is remembered for her contribution to Paul’s ministry.

How can you use your resources – home, money, talents – to minister to those in need?

 

Excerpt from Amanda Walker, Discovering God’s Design: A Journey to Restore Biblical Womanhood (Bloomington: WestBow Press, 2015), 139-41.