In the history of the church, it is often opposition from within the church that causes the most damage. In the case of Acts 6:1–7, the issue at hand is one of unity, one of the primary struggles for the Church since the beginning. Thankfully, in this instance, the 12 Apostles handled this issue with such wisdom that they teach us a lot, especially about service.
The issue at hand in chapter 6 is that the Greek Jews were being overlooked by Hebrews in the daily distribution of food. It’s important to know that the first people to come into a relationship with God through Jesus, and join the church, were Jews. However, among this group was also the Jewish converts. It was this group whose needs were unmet.
The Apostles dealt with this situation by raising up a group of men from within the Greek-Jewish community so that no one would be overlooked. This solution has several implications. First, although it isn’t “beneath” the Apostles to pick up the slack, they had bigger fish to fry. This is a fantastic leadership principle—prioritization and delegation. What is the work that only you can do? What work needs to get done that you can hand off to somebody else? The Apostles needed to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Any other work would detract from the task that they needed to do of first importance.
Second, we see that the Church needs different people to fulfill different roles. The Apostles selected seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. Even to “serve tables,” service is leadership and leadership requires standards. Many a church has suffered the consequences of elevating the wrong leaders. These men had “good reputations.” To have a reputation you must, first, be known. As basic as that statement may seem, this speaks to the value of your involvement in biblical community (Connect Group sign ups begin soon, wink wink). These men also had to be “full of the Spirit.” God does not give believers the Spirit to sit in the bleachers; get on the field. The Spirit equips people differently, not everybody has the same spiritual gifts. That is a great thing because none of us can do it on our own. Just like we have to depend on the Spirit for the gifts he’s given us, we have to depend on others who the Spirit have gifted differently. As we tell our daughter frequently when she says, “I do it!”, independence is not the goal. The Christian life is one of interdependence. We need the Lord and we need each other.
These leaders were Greek, they were not Jews. Because of their ethnicity and background, they were uniquely suited to fulfill a need in the church. The Church needs different people to fulfill different roles. The standard of ministry is not the staff team. You don’t have to be like Tim Parsons to be effective. Tim is great, but so are you. We have a Tim, if you’re not serving, we don’t have a you. If you look at yourself and can’t figure out how God can use you, guess what, that’s how a lot of us feel. Let us help you and what you’ll find is every significant thing you are a part of for God’s kingdom isn’t really your work anyway. As the great evangelist Dwight Moody said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate