Growth and Empowerment. Acts 6.1-7t
1/31/2017 11:40:51 PM
Leadership and team management strategies
Growth and Empowerment! Acts 6:1-7, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%206:1-7&interface=print
“Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”1 A problem has arisen in the young Christian church, and the community is being threatened from within. Growth has been explosive! Luke has told us several times that 'the number of disciples is growing'--many more Jews are coming to believe the gospel message, and meeting together regularly. We’re talking many thousands by this time.
But, not only are the 12 apostles doing all of the teaching and pastoral care, they are taking care of the practical needs of the people as well--administering material goods and money. They are aware that something has to change as troublesome complaints arise from their flock. How they respond is both remarkable and significant. “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…so the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly …” from Acts 6.1-7
They could have said, 'Look, your squabbling is doing none of us any good, so knock it off!' But instead, they got a grasp of where the problem lie--between the Grecian or (Hellenistic) Jews and the Hebraic Jews. "The Hellenistic Jews were those who spoke mainly Greek, and formerly lived outside of Palestine, but they had settled in Jerusalem—retired, as it were, to the homeland. Nevertheless, they still had affinities with lands of the Jewish dispersion from which they came. The Hebraic Jews were those who spoke mainly Aramaic, and were born in the Jerusalem area. A parallel in modern Jerusalem would be the distinction between Jews who were born in the country and those who emigrated to Israel from other nations."2 So, while they all became Jewish Christians, they were still cloaked in their acculturation--language, customs, etc. The Grecian Jews, (who felt they were sometimes treated like second-class citizens by the Jews born in Jerusalem), felt their widows were not being cared for as well as the Hebraic Jews.
>>>I COULD SEE THIS AS A MODERN-DAY PROBLEM WITH REFUGEES AND RESETTLEMENT<<<
The reaction of the apostles was remarkable--they had not attended leadership training school, after all. Or had they? Well, yes they had. Their Master Teacher had modeled team leadership for them. He chose the 12, poured everything he had into them, mentored them for three and a half years, sent out pairs to minister, etc. So, yes they were the products of team leadership in practice. Instead of letting things fester, they sprang into action and called a meeting to address the problem. Just like that. They knew what their God-given priority was:
teaching the Word of God, and prayer.
There are some great leadership strategies that emerge from this passage as we see the apostles agree they must keep the main thing, 'the main thing.' And it fits with a leadership maxim I picked up from Andy Stanley years ago,
"Only do what only you can do."3
What was the requirement to be one of the seven? The men would have to be "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit." That alone is interesting--remember the seven were primarily chosen to distribute food, acting like administrators; why would they need to be full of faith and the Holy Spirit for that? Let's break it down a little further. The seven leaders needed to be: 1) Known from their sphere of influence- "seek out from among you" 2) People who could serve on a team "seven men" 3) Trusted among the people - "of good reputation" 4) Empowered for the task - "full of the Holy Spirit" 5) Competent and intelligent - "full of wisdom" 6) Responsible - "whom we may account over this business."4
Seven were chosen, and the apostles "commissioned" them before the people: they laid their hands on them, and prayed for them.
What happened as a result? The
Gospel message flourished--the good news of Jesus Christ
spread out even further--"rapidly"
It does not seem we have near the same fervor the apostles did. . . to make sure people near us know that there is a God who loves them and has an excellent plan for them, who will give their lives purpose for today and eternity. Hmmm.
Do you think God might be calling you to do something you haven't stepped out to do, like befriend. . . serve. . . tell. . . give. . . maybe lead someone or something? 'Plate too full? Consider this, what Mark Mittelberg said to me:
Why do you keep on doing the things other people can do,
and leave undone the things only you can do?
This early model instituted by the apostles was successful for a reason.
1 – from “Lost in Space”, 1965
2 - Paul Kroll
3 - Andy Stanley, The Next Generation Leader
4 - John Maxwell