What a strange name, and to those less familiar with scripture, likely meaningless. Yet this morning as I was gliding through Phillipilians I felt a strange identify with this one whose name is derived from the words "lovely" and "charming."
Oh, not that I see myself that way, but there must have been something akin to this about this friend of Paul's for him to be so cherished.
It seems Epaphroditus spent his life, his focus on serving this now imprisoned Paul. I can only imagine how he felt toward Paul, the sole focus of Epaphroditus' personal calling.
I have had multiple relationships like this with men and women with whom I have served. At the risk of sounding less than humble, I will be transparent in order to honor the roles of those of us called to these ""second fiddle" roles.
Knowing that you are called to enable the success of another is both a privilege and a burden. The latter borne primarily by one's family, as they can easily be displaced by a devotion that mysteriously overwhelms the servant leader type each time that the one served nears a personal victory or the completion of a long sought after challenge or initiative.
Personal joy comes in a way that makes all other material rewards meaningless, so often delivered in the form of a simple hand written note or letter of recognition. I know, it sounds ridiculous that one could so pour themselves and their family into the dreams of another, then awaiting only a certain look of appreciation, the glance of an eye as they themselves recieve public accolades, but for me such has been the case.
Equally painful is when that leader due to some personal or familial crisis abandons a promising goal or worse yet, the team that was so deeply devoted to his or her mission and simply moves on to "greener pastures."
As for the Epaphroditus-types (E-types) the only remedy is to assume that the One to whom you are truly devoted will send another into your life, perhaps expanding on the former dream and skill sets honed, with outcomes even more delightful and with even higher kingdom impact...the ultimate reward for the believer.
The dilemma with institutions such as the church is that political structures fall into place over time, concerned more with the image of the institution than the original dreams of its individuals. The dream is lost, the dreamer relocated, and the E-types left wrestling to regain sufficient hope to relaunch their lives, reassuring loved one's once more their of the necessity of their call, often regrouping personal finances if economic loss is incurred, another hazard of the call. In fact, some have learned to become entrepreneurs for the sake of income and provision for their families, while continuing their kingdom call.
This sounds like a stressful life and stress of course can even lead to physical illness, even at times divorce. I have been blessed by a wife quite resilient, though not without our own stories.
This perhaps is why Paul inserts the following:
"For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow."
Philippians 2:26-27 NIV
Why post such a blog? You might know some E-Type who needs an outsider to come around them or their family in some present transition. Oh, they will find it hard to recieve, that is their being a burden to anyone, come around them anyway. You may be the crucial partner that gives them courage, sufficient for their next assignment. Their calling though few would care for is "without repentance."