I find the Olympics to be an interesting exposition of culture. People from all over the world proudly don the colors of their nation as the most talented compete against each other for the bragging rights to be the “best in the world”. We watch and celebrate when our fellow countrymen and women win big and groan when they fail miserably. For a few weeks the entire world, it seems, is in rapt attention but, the minute it’s over, the people outside that realm forget and go back to their normal lives.
But the athletes and trainers who eat, drink, and breathe that sport can’t forget. They might get a short break, but long before their next games they are training and honing their skills even further.
“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” Romans 16:1-2 (KJV)
I chose the King James Version of these verses because it uses the word “succourer”, which is a more meaningful word that the words used in some of the other translations. This uncommonly used word means “someone who gives help in times of need or distress or difficulty” (Vocabulary.com).
I think that’s a pretty good way to be described! But it gets better! According to Biblegateway.com, in the classic Greek, succourer is “…describing a trainer in the Olympic games, who stood by the athletes to see that they were properly trained and not over-trained and rightly girded when they lined up for the signal.”
Can we just pause there for a minute? Phoebe was intentional and strategic to ensure that the people in her community were practically trained for their mission of spreading the gospel around the world. She helped, encouraged, strengthened, and equipped. She was a leader in the community and spent most of her time building others up.
The details about her life have long since faded away but her dedication to helping others remains.
If you want to build something that lasts, spend time pouring into others.
Who are you pouring into?
How are you equipping those around you?
This might look like serving at the children’s or youth ministry at your church, or starting a small group, or volunteering at a local non-profit in your area. You don’t have to know it all (no one does!), but you can begin sharing what you know with someone who knows a little less. Or sharing a skill with someone who isn’t able to do what you can do. This goes beyond just Biblical knowledge but can be everything from money management, to relationship help, to car maintenance, to living a healthy life. What do you have that you can share with someone else to equip them for the life ahead of them?
Let’s be like Phoebe and train those around us in whatever capacity we can.