Few women practiced Godonomics better than Lydia. Her story from the book of acts is an example of a leader, an entrepreneur, a successful business builder, and mother. She produces a high end product (a seller of purple material) to a high end clientele in the strategic sales town of Philippi nestled on border of Europe and Asia. She produced, profited, and invested in her economy. She was a lavish giver as well. Her financial backing, life change, and strategic thinking helped begin a church known for it’s lavish generosity (Philippians 4).
Phillipi was home of some of the largest gold and silver deposits in the world. It was a city filled with business owners and professionals. Dr Luke who wrote the book of Luke and Acts lived there.
Lydia’s secret to life and career included regular prayer, strong listening, and passionate persuading.
11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.b
But these women made prayer a priority. They made their spiritual lives a priority. They put themselves in environments to prioritize the priority of prayer and spiritual growth. They created customs to pray even in the midst of a busy professional life.
Lydia’s success in life and business can also be attributed to her strong listening skills. Listening is the glue of a family, a marriage, or any successful company. Free market capitalism requires the seller to really listen to the needs of the customer and offer a product they want at the right price and quality. Lydia did that.
14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
Lydia heard them. She was a listener, a searcher, an explorer of truth. In fact the phrase used to describe her “One who worshiped God” or “God-fearer” is a technical term in those days. A God-fearer was not a “christian” but a person who was aware of God, studying who God was, but hadn’t put all the pieces together. Lydia grew up in a city with a synagogue called Thyatira where she learned about God, his law, and his will, but was unaware and unsure of the whole Jesus thing. Yet despite her concerns and lack of knowledge, she continued to pursue an informal education weekly at the riverside.
She was also a professional, a “seller of purple”. This was a high end business. Most couldn’t afford purple, so Lydia had a high end clientele. A successful business by all observations. And yet her success, her business, and her busy career didn’t stop her from either prioritizing her faith or keeping an open heart.
In fact, it shows that God “opened her heart” to heed the things spoken by Paul.
The final skill Lydia has in life and business was her ability to persuade.
15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the mother in Lydia from these words. She decided to trust Christ as forgiver and leader. And her husband did the same, and her whole household. Not sure how many kids she had, but all of her household is infected by this new message of hope. The whole family was so impacted, they got baptized.
Lydia was a leader. Lydia cast a vision. She was able to passionately persuade not only her household to hear this message of forgiveness of Christ, but then she begins to persuade Paul and his team to stay with her. She wants to serve them. Wants them to stay with her. Luke, the writer of Acts, says, “She persuaded us.” She talked us into this. “We couldn’t say no…” I even like the “hint of mother guilt you hear in her speech to them…” She says, “IF you judged us faithful, you’ll come to my house…” If you really think this “took” and really think we “got it” and really think “this is important” you’ll stay with me.
Leaders can persuade, guilt, and “beg” us into things that we wouldn’t otherwise do. Lydia was Persuasive and Passionate she wanted to serve others. She wanted to help others. In fact, a few days later Paul will be beaten and whipped for sharing with others the same message he shared with her… And in the midst of his pain and hurt, we find Lydia again.
40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
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