Blog / Pillar People

James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Galatians 2:9, NIV).

I overheard a wise man refer to a young couple as “pillar people”. They fostered five siblings for an extended period and grieved deeply when the time ended. The wise man encouraged them to envision themselves as a steady pillar God had placed within the lives of these children. The siblings would forever reflect upon that season of stability as a frame of reference.

Paul identified several esteemed pillars among the fellowship in Galatia: James, Cephas, and John. The word Paul chose, stylos, is a column, prop, or support. Believers looked to these three for wisdom and leadership. Their presence provided support for their own journeys of faith.

Paul wrote anticipating Christ’s imminent return. He probably did not expect that he, too, would serve as a pillar of the church for almost two thousand years. Imagine his amazement to know his letters have been printed, bound, and translated into 1,441 languages.*

Though Paul referenced men, women in the early churches would have identified Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as Mary Magdalene, as pillar women. We can assume that Mary had found spiritual and emotional strength through the time she spent with Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39-56).

Consider the significant role the owner of the home with the Upper Room played in Jesus’ ministry. I especially think of that room during the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-28). Many assume the disciples waited there during Jesus’ entombment (John 20:2), and during the ten days they awaited the Holy Spirit’s arrival after Christ’s ascension (Acts 2:2-3).

Tradition holds the Upper Room belonged to John Mark’s mother. The physical space, the provisions, and the refuge it offered Jesus and the disciples provided invaluable gifts at a critical time in church history.

I have reflected upon this concept of pillar people and have identified ones God has placed in my life. My grandmother claims the chiefpillar spot—consistent, predictable, and stable. She faithfully prayed for me until her death. I recall the safety and love I felt when I sat with her in church or shared holidays at her comfy home.

God has placed additional pillar people in my life. Each models a life of faith. Some provide spiritual leadership within the church. Others listen well to my spiritual questions, speak wisdom into my life, and faithfully intercede.

Thankfully God continues to provide stabilizing persons within the Body of Christ for each generation. Many, I assume, will not recognize that distinction about themselves.

Just like the young fostering couple, I must accept that God has placed me into someone’s life as a stabilizing force. Only God, though, can transform me into someone who brings that quality to my life of faith. Fortunately, all I need to do is offer my availability to the Lord and trust Him to do the rest.

Thank You, Lord, for Mary, Elizabeth, James, Cephas, John, Paul, and Mark's mother, who served as pillar people by their faith within the early church and later through their writings in Scripture. Thank you for the supportive people you have placed in our lives. Sensitize us to the role we may play in the lives of others. Teach us to depend upon Your strength and Your grace. Continue to raise up many pillar people among Your children for Your glory and for Your kingdom! Amen.



Linda Lesniewski

Linda served as Women’s Minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX for 24 years. She has authored "A Little Book About Knowing a Big God" for children; "Women at the Cross" and "Connecting Women: A Guide for Leaders in Women’s Ministry", by Revell; as well as "His Story My Story", a digital download available from LifeWay. Linda enjoys spending time with her four young adult children and six granddaughters. She has served on the Womenary Board of Directors for many years. You can contact Linda at
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