We all have ideas concerning the kind of house we want to own one day. Dream houses. And in the past few months I've remodeled mine in my mind. I’ve added “The Philemon Room.”
I wondered what my calling was for years. It seems many people my age either have it figured out or do not care. Neither was true of me. There was no specific career I felt the Lord leading me to. But I really wanted the identity that came with a calling. I realized my calling might actually be to aid others with their own callings. Taking myself off of the stage of my own calling helped me to see how I could fill that role.
“The Philemon Room” idea is simple. Someday I want to have a special room in my house where believers (or unbelievers) who need a place to stay can come, rest, and have their souls refreshed. Good food, good music, spiritually beneficial books, and a quiet place for prayer and meditation will surround them in this room. They may be ministers who need to get away for a while, struggling people in my church, or strangers who stumble in from the road. Whoever they are, this room would be a sanctuary where they can meet God and draw water from the well of life.
Why call it The Philemon Room? "For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother" (Philemon 1:7). Paul commended Philemon for being an encouragement and a help to his brothers and sisters in Christ. I would like you invite you to consider becoming a Philemon in the lives of the Christians around you, and particularly the leaders in your local church.
Pray for them. This is primary and one of the simplest ways to minister to a brother or sister. When you pray for them, you are coming alongside them in their struggles in a very real way. Another word for prayer in Scripture is “intercession,” which carries the idea of coming in between two people for the benefit of the lesser one. Your prayers, in a sense, come in between God and that person, pleading with God to bless and draw near to him or her.
Listen to and learn from them. This especially applies when speaking about older Christians and leaders in the church. This requires humility on your part, laying down any claim to wisdom you have and accepting the wisdom they can impart. Sometimes our church leaders can be discouraged at seeing their teaching have little effect on their congregations. Opening your heart and taking in what they say may serve to refresh them greatly.
Befriend them. Everyone can become lonely, especially church leaders. The congregation can become so used to seeing them as teachers they forget they still have personal needs, such as companionship. Church leaders pour themselves into their congregations over and over. How hard would it be to invite your pastor or elder for dinner to encourage them in their walk with the Lord, instead of the other way around?
Ask what can you do for them. There are so many practical ways to bless Christians around you. Ask if they would bless you by allowing you to cook them a meal. Or, free up your weekend and do some yard work for them. Go out of your way to make sure they are taken care of, bearing their physical burdens as well as their spiritual burdens (Galatians 6:2).
While you may be called to be a Paul instead of a Philemon, if you are a young Christian you are likely not about to begin pastoring any time soon. Investing yourself in the lives of your church leaders while you have this time is a great honor and opportunity to give back to those who give so much to you.