Carolyn Custis James:
How can we be faithful stewards of the rich ministry resources God has entrusted to us in the gifted female theologians in our pews? As vital and important as hospitality and nursery ministries are, these theologically informed women want to do more [than wash the feet of the saints and care for babies and young children] in their local churches, both vocationally and as volunteers. As Christians grow deeper in their knowledge of God, they sense a greater responsibility and desire to serve Him in increasing levels of ministry and leadership [above washing the feet of the saints and caring for babies and young children].
A widow is to be put on the list only if she... (has) a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Timothy 5:9,10)
John Calvin (on above text):
...Paul does not wish that any should be admitted... but those who had excellent attestations of the whole of their past life. Besides, they were not appointed in order to lazy and indolent inactivity, but to minister to the poor and the sick, until, being completely worn out, they should be allowed honorably to retire. Accordingly, that they may be better prepared for the discharge of their office, he wishes them to have had long practice and experience in all the duties which belong to it; such as -- labor and diligence in bringing up children, hospitality, ministering to the poor, and other charitable works.
If it be now asked, Shall all that are barren be rejected, because they have never borne any children? We must reply, that Paul does not here condemn barrenness, but the daintiness of mothers, who, by refusing to endure the weariness of bringing up their children, sufficiently show that they will be very unkind to strangers. And at the same time he holds out this as an honorable reward to godly matrons, who have not spared themselves, that they, in their turn, shall be received into the bosom of the Church in their old age.
By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he means by the washing of the feet all the services which are commonly rendered to the saints; for at that time it was customary to "wash the feet." An employment of this nature might have the appearance of being mean and almost servile; and therefore he makes use of this mark for describing females who were industrious, and far from being fastidious or dainty.