In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 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 and sisters, 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 proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:1-7
I recently watched an Oprah interview with Shauna Niequist, the author of Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. Shauna made a statement that I have been pondering. Here it is, “Stop, right now, remake your life from the inside out. You have more power than you think, you have more authority over your life than you think, you get to remake your life from the inside out.” Sometimes life gets frantic and that which is valued the most is neglected.
Tucked away in the Bible is the true story about God bringing about the wonderful work of giving Christianity its start in the world. This story was not just about miracles and the increasing emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also about the challenges that came as the church grew in number. Within Acts 6:1-7 is the relatable reality of responsibilities, that were once right-sized to the capabilities of the 12 apostles, becoming increasingly affected by the enormous increase of believers. Notice the repetitive use of the word, increase!
This isn’t a story about people (the apostles or the rest of the church) not stepping up and serving. To the contrary, this is a story about the apostles not being able to keep up because of the increasing size of their responsibilities. The apostles’ work was organized for a smaller church. They were in danger of doing too much and this was beginning to show. Feedback from the family of believers came in the form of accusations that they were prejudiced and intentionally overlooking one particular ethnic group in their population, when in reality there weren’t enough hours in the day for the twelve to fulfill their responsibilities of ministering the word, attending to prayer and overseeing the daily distribution of food to the widows. Christianity’s wonderful start in the world was in danger of loosing increasing momentum. How could the twelve apostles keep from letting the previously successful arrangement of focusing all their energy on the one business they were to attend to from becoming stagnant or worse, declining?
A new arrangement was needed; they simply couldn’t do what only they could do and tend to ensuring the day in and day out needs of the church, in this case the widows, were met. So the twelve prayerfully said no to frantically trying to do everything themselves and said yes to turning some of their responsibilities over to seven spiritual and wise men. This arrangement worked well and was followed by an enormous increase of believers!
Sometimes life gets frantic and that which is valued the most is neglected. Over-responsibility can actually hinder God-given dreams from becoming a reality. There are important responsibilities to own and there are important responsibilities to let go. Where are you in need of trusting others to do what needs to be done but you are not called to do? The twelve had first hand knowledge of the precious story of Jesus to make known by word of mouth to the world. What has God given you that only you can do?
Exhale frantic over-commitment. Inhale prayerfully considering and choosing to do only what God has put you here to do.
My God, I repent of getting caught up in over-responsibility and endangering the health of the very responsibilities you have entrusted to me. Thank you that I am free to live better and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Him, Amen
Today’s post was written by Beth Holland.
Beth Holland lives to make a difference that will encourage, inspire and impact lives for eternity. She loves to write, travel, read and work on significant projects. You can often find her spending time with her family at local parks, museums or the beach. Being the mother of two grown children, son Micah (soon to be married to Alyssa) and daughter Ashley Elizabeth and married for over 30 years to the love of her life, Dan, is what she is most thankful for. She can be found on Sunday mornings at Real Life Christian Church | Kaley Campus.