Free and Focused Leaders
Here at Strategic Renewal, we have a special burden for pastors. You read about it often and are aware of our national fellowship for pastors, based on Acts 6:4, calling pastors to connect with one another around the priorities of “prayer and the ministry of the word.” Since October is Pastor Appreciation Month we want to emphasize another important factor found in Acts chapter 6, which calls God’s people to play a vital role.
Acts 6:1-7, the breakdown in the distribution of food to the widows, created a crisis. Rather than leaving their essential priorities, the apostles received guidance from the Holy Spirit that the congregation would select seven men to handle this important situation.
The Acts 6:3 Fellowship
Acts 6:3 says, “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” Many commentators believe this was the beginning of a deacon-type ministry. However you label it, God used these seven in profound ways.
Every church member can learn from this passage and play an important role in freeing pastors to focus on the highest and best priorities. Six characteristics in this text stand out and, if embraced, could change the landscape of church life, resulting in a new level of health and impact.
A Heartfelt Commitment to Exemplary Living – The first description of these seven was that of a “good reputation.” Something obvious caused these specific men to stand out among the thousands of believers in the early church at this time. Maybe they had a notable pattern of honesty, hard work, loving others, caring for their family, or sharing Christ with the lost. In any case, their testimony was evident and consistent at this moment in the life of the church.
A Humble Submission to the Holy Spirit – These seven were also “full of the Holy Spirit.” Their character was marked by a submission to the Holy Spirit. Their personal ministry surely reflected the power of the Holy Spirit. Their elevation to a greater realm of service brought a great advancement of spirituality in the church. Men like Stephen and Phillip appeared on this list. Acts tells us their stories of powerful preaching, evangelism, and even martyrdom. Yet, all seven men were notably Spirit-controlled.
A Hunger For Godly Wisdom – These servants also exemplified lives full of “wisdom.” Wisdom is truth applied to life. Their salient biblical insight, judicious decision-making, and prudent choices brought vitality and well-being to the situation.
A Healthy View of Their Spiritual Potential – Too often Christians today view themselves as mere “laymen.” I often joke that I do not call congregational members “lay-men” because they often take it as a command and just lay around. The New Testament word for every believer is “saint,” which means a holy one. We are all set apart to God for official, kingdom-oriented service. These seven seemed to understand this calling. They were willing to stand on the promises rather than just sit on the premises.
A Helpful Participation in Ministry – These seven were eager to take the administrative and operational burden off the apostles. What a blessing it would be if every church member would ask their pastor, “What can I take charge of in our church to free you to focus on ‘prayer and the ministry of the word’?” I believe this kind of movement of extraordinary leadership and service would transform the church and empower our pastors like never before.
A Holy Expectation of Supernatural Results – The results of this arrangement in Acts 6 spawned a powerful spiritual advancement. I believe it is the greatest “revival” moment of the New Testament. Read this carefully: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (v. 7). Imagine this great advancement of the Gospel! Consider the exponential multiplication of true believers. Think of the amazement of seeing those Jewish leaders who had previously persecuted the church, and even conspired to the crucifixion of Christ, now being converted in droves. Isn’t this the work for which we long and pray?
Find Your Place in This Fellowship
I believe that it is imperative that we continue to call and connect pastors to the priorities of “prayer and the ministry of the word.” I also believe these times demand that people just like you — of good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit, and marked by godly wisdom — rise up and free our pastors from their many distractions by taking on serious responsibilities to advance the ministry of Christ. Will you stand and be counted today? If so, you might just pay a vital role in the revival our churches need and the awakening that can transform our society.
Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.