Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. (Romans 16:3)
The father carried the cross for Jesus. Simon, an immigrant from northern Africa, helped a beaten and bleeding Savior with the massive beam of splintered wood as He climbed the hill to Golgotha. Simon had two sons, Alexander and Rufus, who would be known by their faith in the Christ who was put to death and yet lived.
Rufus learned from his dad how to reach up.
And he learned from his mom how to reach out.
We don’t know her name, but know she was instrumental in the life of Paul. In fact, he says she was like a mom to him. The family had moved from Jerusalem to Antioch, where they reached out to Greeks in search of love and acceptance. The community had called them “Christians” because of the ways they looked like the One they preached, Jesus Christ. Paul met the family in Antioch when the apostle traveled there to teach, preach, and find restoration.
He was weary, and she was welcoming.
It’s said Paul was in Antioch for 30 years, and through the decades, she reached out and embraced him as family.
Thirty years, in a climate still hostile to the Christ her family loved. Thirty years, through joy and heartache and hope and great grief. Yes, Rufus’ mom was known for the welcome she gave a man learning how to walk the road of faith. She had no idea when they met who Paul would become. She simply knew him as the man who once was lost but now is found, who once preached against the Christ he grew to so passionately love, the man who had risked it all for that love. She offered wisdom as he gathered words to share with the crowds. She offered comfort as he gathered strength for the journey. She fed him and listened well and challenged him to consider well the days ahead. She spoke life to the apostle who would give his life for the sake of a most high calling.
We don’t know her name, but Rufus’ mom is a powerful reality check for you and me. She didn’t demand that Paul speak of her when he spoke of Christ. She didn’t demand to be listed and labeled with Pinterest-worthy words of wisdom. She didn’t elevate herself as a leader. No, Paul did. Her life was her testimony. And that life embraced the lives of others without thought of what she could gain. She offered wisdom with the same breath that invited folks to the table for dinner and talked about how her city was changing and consoled a grieving neighbor and reminded her family that laundry day was Tuesday.
In the midst of culture that whispers to us, “What’s in it for me?” and demands we all label ourselves as leaders in order to be valuable to others, Rufus’ mom is refreshment to my soul. Her life is a reminder that our greatest gifts to offer this world are the ones living within our DNA. When we serve, we lead with our life.
And that’s leadership worthy of lauding.
What gifts live within you right now? What might happen if you allowed those gifts to serve Christ by serving others? Share your story with me!
If you enjoyed this little celebration of Rufus’ mom, you might like the stories of Peter’s mother-in-law, Dorcas and the Samaritan woman. Be sure to subscribe to my little love letters, so you’ll never miss a story—and receive updates on the book One Woman Can Change the World!