Do We Need Female Servant Leaders?
“11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.” (1 Tim. 3:11-12)
The obvious question always comes into play here: Can women be deacons?
If we place the emphasis on verse 12, it clearly references a husband and father who is a deacon. Does this mean that men are the only ones who can serve as deacons? Not exactly.
And it has to do with verse 11.
Women or Wives?
Depending on the English translation you’re reading, verse 11 may read the word “wives” or the word “women“. The question arises, which is it, wives or women? And more importantly, why does it matter?
And here is that Greek word:
“Guné (goo-nay’), a feminine noun meaning a woman, wife or my lady.” (NAS Exhaustive Concordance)
Okay wait, so now it means both or either?
My study this week revealed that this is quite a contested debate among churches. That is, until they ask the question, “Where does the Greek word ‘diakonos’ (deacon) appear in the New Testament, in relation to women?“
It’s at this point that they meet Sister Phoebe.
In Romans 16, verses 1 and 2 we read the following:
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.” (Rom. 16:1-2)
Clearly from Paul’s instruction, Sister Phoebe isn’t just some deacon’s wife. She is herself, a deacon representing Paul on some level.
Moreover, Paul regards her as a great asset to the church, a benefactor to many people including himself and he commends her to serve at the church in Cenchreae (sen’-kre-e).
Sister Phoebe is clearly a valuable deacon, a valuable servant of the church, regardless of her gender.
Just when you thought we had this problem solved, trust the church to complicate things.
Perhaps you’ve heard this English term used for female deacons, “deaconesses“. Now, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but it has become a rather confusing term in church structure so it’s worth touching on it.
The history of the English language proves to be a confusing subject (just ask anyone who has an alternate mother tongue).
The first word study we completed this week regarding “diakonos” proved to mean “servant“. In English, instead of simply using the word “servant“, an alternate word was created that sounds similar to diakonos: “Deacon“.
Then we run into this problem that “diakonos” can be either male or female. What should we do? Aha, let’s just create another English word: “Deaconess“
Problem solved…kind of.
CAN I GET YOUR FEEDBACK?
What are your thoughts on a woman’s role as a deacon? In what circumstances does the church need a woman’s touch?