Acts 6:2-4 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
This actually was a major inflection point in the early Church, when things could easily have gone either way, and going the wrong way could have essentially doomed the Church as an organization. There are always important things to be done, but there are also priorities. Ordering those priorities can make or break either individual lives or large organizations. God gave the apostles wisdom, just as He did to Moses’ father-in-law thousands of years before, because the answer is often delegation. (Exodus 18) There is only so much a given individual can do, and there is always more to be done than one individual can handle. It’s not that things aren’t important, it’s a matter of focus and concentration. Just as people are spiritual beings who inhabit bodies, (as I brought up in the message a week ago) the Church is a spiritual organism that is made up of people and deals with all sorts of things involving the material world. If we forget that the first priority is spiritual, everything falls apart. The devil does all he can to distract us with the physical in various ways, both with pleasurable things and unpleasant things like pain and conflict. The only way out of it is, as Jesus said, to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) That’s why we need to start each day by taking time with the Lord, regardless of how urgent other things might seem to be. Here, the apostles faced a situation that threatened to tear the Church apart, so by the wisdom of God they delegated, allowing the people to choose their representatives so that it wouldn’t be seen as a top-down solution but would have everyone’s agreement. However, they set clear guidelines. Those chosen should be “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” The Japanese includes the characteristic of “well-spoken,” which the NIV leaves out but in my view would be very important for this particular job. (Some translations say, “of good reputation.”) These men needed to know how to get along with others. Peter may have been especially aware of this, because that wasn’t one of his outstanding characteristics! That at least Stephen was very gifted with words comes out right after this, when he is arrested for being too effective as an evangelist. In any case the point here is that a genuine issue was acknowledged and people were assigned to deal with it, and a crisis was averted.
Delegation has always been an issue for me. I tend to do everything myself, or at least try, and all too often that makes a mess of things. I am gifted in many ways, and often doing things myself is the easiest and simplest solution, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. I need to involve others in the church far more consistently, for them to grow and the church to grow. Today I am conflicted because of the various things that need to be done, but at the moment I don’t have anyone else to call on. However, starting with this time in the Word and prayer is certainly the right thing to do! With the size and current composition of the church I don’t have options for some of the things, but this is a wake-up call for what we need to do from here. Today, I need God’s wisdom as to the order in which to do things, and indeed, what is to be done today and what later. In the future, I need to be active in seeking the participation of others, so that God’s work may be done by God’s people for God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. I know many things in theory that I don’t apply in practice. James 1:22 was written for me! Help me keep growing so that the church can keep growing and indeed, the Church keep growing, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!