Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Community
Preacher: Jessyka Dooley
Reflection: Jessyka Dooley
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 16:1-16 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “Let me introduce to you our sister Phoebe.” Even though things are very different for women serving in the church in many contexts currently, we can still relate to the boldness of the early Christians who followed the way of Jesus by presenting a woman as a sister—a servant of the church. I find myself hearing a faint echo from Paul’s opening statement in his letter to the Romans: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).
Maybe you’ve been introduced before. As a student, it is always a little awkward to be introduced as the “new kid” in school. As adults, we usually brace ourselves when we are introduced at a new job or volunteer position. Regardless of the circumstances, having the spotlight fixed on you can be uncomfortable.
Being introduced as a pastor, a servant of the church, a deacon, or a leader of any kind holds a certain weight. People begin to view you in a different light when you’ve made this transition to “leader.” If you happen to be a female, an additional (and extra bright) spotlight is directed toward you. We see this in our church, and we see it in our government. Whether it is in church leadership or political leadership, when a female is in the mix, the dialogue changes. She is not just another person, but something completely new, complex, and sometimes challenging to understand.
We encounter this “gap” when it comes to many things: gender, age, race, religion, etc. We create lines and barriers to categorize people and often find ourselves peeking over the walls to gain an understanding of people who are different from us. When Paul introduces Phoebe, he isn’t introducing someone from a different gender or a different geographic location (although those identifiers are mentioned). Rather, he introduces a fellow follower of Jesus. Someone who is working alongside him and the rest of the early church members. He is introducing a friend and a colleague.
As you think about yourself, what groups have you been dumped into? When someone introduces you, what defines who you are? Is it your career? Your family? Your political affiliation? Your gender? Even our religious affiliations define us and set us apart. When you are introduced, how are others encouraged to see you? Do they see your labels, or, like Phoebe, do they see you as a fellow follower of Jesus?
Recalibrate: Have you ever been categorized? Was the experience negative or positive? Have you ever been guilty of categorizing others? What prompted you to do so?
Respond: Ask God to show you someone you can “introduce.” Introduce them for who they are in Jesus.
Research: Read “Breaking Gender Stereotypes in the Toy Box” by Perri Klass, M.D.
Remember: “Let me introduce to you our sister Phoebe. She is a deacon in the church at Cenchreae. I want you to welcome her in the Lord, as is proper for one of God’s people” (Romans 16:1-2, KNT).
Jessyka Dooley has served Boulder Adventist Church since 2015 when she first arrived as a pastoral intern. After returning to Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she finished her degree, Jessyka returned as a full-time associate pastor in May of 2016. She grew up in Washington State and is a graduate of Auburn Adventist Academy. Jessyka is a dual citizen of the United States and Switzerland. She married Kiefer Dooley in October of 2018.
The Bible says, in Romans 16:1, that Phoebe was a helper. Using your child’s name say, “[Child’s name] is a helper.” Point to yourself, say “Mommy” or “Daddy,” and add “is a helper.” Help each other do things today— all the time remembering to thank your little one for helping and encouraging them to remember to thank you as well. The first sixteen verses in Romans 16 are all about thanking people for helping. Thank you for taking the time to Live Wonder with your little one today!
Have you ever been about to leave a friend and before you went asked them to say “hi” to a bunch of other kids you know they are going to see before you do? Grown-ups do this a lot! Romans 16 shows Paul doing the same thing. In this chapter, you read about all the people—men and women, family and friends, people in church and people in prison—whom Paul wants the people reading this letter to greet for him. Color in all the names Paul mentions and list why he was thankful to them.
During my senior year of college, I was sitting at a coffee shop in Lincoln, Nebraska, with my good friend Pastor Japhet De Oliveira. I was just about to become a pastor myself, and I will never forget his words to me: “What do you want to be known for?” I panicked at first because I thought he was telling me I had to become the most talented at something and become known for it. (That’s a lot of pressure!) But as his question swirled through my mind for a few weeks, I realized that wasn’t what he was saying. He was really opening my eyes to the fact that I was about to embark on a new journey, and was asking me how I wanted to spend my time along the way. What was I going to try my hardest at? What was I going to do in my new life as a pastor? Why did I misunderstand Japhet’s question? Because the world tells us to get really good at something and let that thing define you. Yet Jesus tells us to follow Him and let Him define us! How would your friends define you? Better yet, how would you define yourself? If you allow what you do and the things you are good at define to you, you will always come up empty. I have learned that it is best to be known as one of God’s people, just like sister Phoebe!