Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: (Acts 6:2-5 KJV)
It is very easy to grow things from the start; and must times as revival burst into a place, it draws in more people who are eager to be part of what God is doing. At first, this will gladly please the hearts of the leaders of the Revival as it is a sign that God is drawing men unto himself. However, with time, there will be need for administration, as the number of persons being drawn will bring up the need for a proper organization and administration of all resources to meet the needs of all. Many leaders of Revivals and new moves of God react in either of two ways:
- They simply disregard every need for organization in order to face the revival and keep it going on. The results of this choice are that other issues arising from the lack of organisation will choke up the move of the Spirit and quench it. Had the Apostles neglected the squabbles around sharing of meals, they would have given room for the devil to feast upon the new brethren.
- They attempt to single-handedly administrate and run all the errands of the organization, while they continue their teaching and preaching of the Word of God. The result of this choice is that the man of God becomes so busy administrating that he no longer has time to get substantive word from the Lord. Thus, the quality of the labour drops because of the drop in the strength of the carrier of the revival.
What is the 3rd and better approach? It was that which was utilized by the apostles. They simply apportioned responsibilities to others. I have noted that one of the things that kills leaders is the inability to apportion responsibilities. Most leaders prefer to do all things by themselves simply because they trust only themselves and no one else. This, at the end, gets everyone into trouble, as the leader is worn out and unable to perform well by the reason of his responsibilities, and the members thus miss the privilege of spiritual authority which the leader should have exercised.
Notice the caliber of men that were chosen to serve in the kitchen: men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. Ordinary kitchen, which does not necessarily need any form of spirituality (according to our thinking) still needed men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. It is painful to see today that the criteria for positions of influence in the church have been terribly watered down. It is now normal to have musicians whose only reason for being behind the band set in the church is that they are skilled players. It is now normal to see ushers whose flair for organization was the main reason why they were chosen. It is good and wonderful to find skilled men to fit into our services; but may our pursuit of excellence and creativity not lead us into watering down the integrity of the church of Jesus. If a church cannot get spirit-filled men to play their instruments, then they should not bother with playing instruments in the church.
The criteria for any form of service in the church down to the smallest of services are “men (and women) of honest report (who have no forms of allegations or evil news being leveled against them), full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” Through all ages, world without end, this remains the criterion for serving in the church of Jesus, and no one has a business being given such positions of authority that is not of such caliber of men.
Now note that while every Christian is expected to pray and minister the word, there is a greater expectation on spiritual leaders of the Church to specially commit themselves to the ministry of prayers and the word of God.
However, like Brother Stephen, and then Philip as we would later see, every child of God, no matter where you have been given to occupy inn this labour can be a bulwark of resistance against the enemy, and a fort for the sake of righteousness wherever God places us. Though an ordinary deacon in the church, the testimony that began to emerge concerning Stephen was as follows: “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8 KJV) Very soon, his life and ministry drew the attention of the world and he was poised to become the first recorded Christian martyr.
AND SO? What is your commitment to God like? I know that you may be occupying many positions of authority in the church today, but, had you been in the early church, would you have even been qualified to serve in the kitchen according to their standards? As a spiritual leader of some sort, are you committed to prayers and the ministry of the word? Are you raising men and women of substance who can meet up with the demands of the Almighty, whatever it may be?