Every church has the names most often heard from the pulpit in the organization of events. We have the woman known for her teaching abilities, the woman known for her musical gifts, the woman known for her special touch with little ones, and the woman known for her hosting, and the woman known for her counseling skills. But there’s another woman each church has, but few ever hear of, and that’s the woman in the shadows.
You’re probably pausing right now to think about who that woman (or those women) might be in your church, and that’s because the woman in the shadows doesn’t ask for very much recognition. Her dish washing or cupcake baking isn’t announced from the pulpit on Sunday mornings and her cleaning of the sanctuary or weeding of the front gardens aren’t discussed by other women in the halls afterward. You don’t see her working hard, and she doesn’t tell you about it either. She’s the definition of humble and servant-hearted, content to go about serving her church family and her Lord without being known or applauded on a regular basis. More often than not, until she is no longer doing what she does, many wouldn’t notice she was even doing it in the first place.
But she’s not holding a grudge because people don’t see her like one would expect. She’s not bitter because she’s not appreciated. She smiles, she’s joyful, because it isn’t to be known for her abilities that she works, but to make Him known. In humility she counts others more valuable than herself and in quietness she serves in the lowliest of tasks, just as her Savior did. In that, her joy is full.
When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should also do just as I have done to you.”John 13:12-15 ESV
You may even notice that when she does receive attention for her efforts, she’s uncomfortable. Not demonstrating a fake modesty, but genuinely nervous because attention wasn’t her goal. Faithfulness was. She knows that her Father in heaven sees, and for her, that really is more than enough. There is no craving for human affirmation and applause because she knows the One who died for her is glorified and pleased with her ordinary work in the seemingly mundane tasks of church and home.
Are you the woman in the shadows? Quietly working for the King and taking great delight in being seen and cherished by Him? If so, thank you for what you do. Thank you for the quiet example you are to us younger woman who are too easily attracted to applause and human praise.
If you aren’t the woman in the shadows, do you know one? Look around, because I’m sure you do. Notice how she doesn’t crave attention or affirmation. Learn from her, and pray that God would give all the women in His church humble, servant hearts that seek to be faithful more than to be famous.
I’m honored to know many women in the shadows, and I’m grateful and humbled by their example. They are a gift to the church and loved more than they’ll ever know.
Praise God for all the women in the shadows, working hard and smiling as they do so. You are valued, dear sisters. May we all grow to be more like you.