For Feb. 7, 2015. Acts 6:1-7
Isn't it usually easier to just do it yourself? It's hard to teach people how to do something, divide up a task, and then trust that those doing it will do the job "right."
I remember trying to teach my children (when they were small) how to do household chores. It takes longer to do the dishes, cook meals, clean, and get laundry done when children are involved. They need instruction, supervision, encouragement and pushing. Sometimes, in the interests of efficiency, getting it done my way, and avoiding unpleasantness, I would just do it myself.
In the long run, however, I hurt both myself and them by doing it all. I get grumpy and overworked, while they lose out on learning important life skills and the satisfaction of contributing to the home.
This morning I am feeling incredibly blessed. There's a list of chores and everyone is working. It's a happy atmosphere, everyone understands why they have to be a part of the work. I'm glad we stuck with the times of teaching and equipping our kids when they were younger, we can accomplish so much more, so much more pleasantly, when we work like this.
In Acts 6, the disciples find themselves as "overworked moms and dads." Their faith family has greatly increased as lots of "newbies in the faith" were joining up. Many hellenists (Greeks) were joining the Jesus following community and the needs were growing exponentially. The disciples find themselves attempting to do everything for everyone and failing to keep up. They are especially frustrated when the more menial task of distributing food to the needy falls on them on top of their work of preaching and teaching.
They consult the community to decide how to handle the problem.Together they decide to equip and empower new leaders for the ministries of caring for the poor, administering charity, and spreading Jesus' love through very practical means. The disciples are then freed up to spend more time doing the things they are uniquely equipped to do-preach and teach.
It's an amazing and hopeful story-but it's also hard to do. Sometimes I really don't want to give up certain tasks because I like the way I get it done and I don't want to give control to someone else. I also can be a little conflicted about delegating to others, especially when "delegating" might seem like a buzz word for handing off the things I don't like. No one person can do everything, no one person has all the skills or time, and just like in families, it hurts both individuals and communities when we concentrate all the know-how in any one place.
This Acts story is a good example of how to grow a healthy faith community. The community is involved in the decision, there is no authoritarian protecting his or her own turf. The unique abilities and gifts that different people bring are used to their full potential and not wasted in doing things that someone else is equipped to do. The people for each task are specially chosen by the group for the skills they bring. The delegation of ministries and tasks means that more and more disciples are gaining in ability and skills-this is the only way the church will grow and thrive.
How often should any community shake itself up and re-organize? This Acts community has discovered a good way of doing things, but does that mean they should stick with it forever? Ongoing discernment and reorganization according to the presenting needs makes sense. Having the group work to decide and bless leaders makes sense.
What things do you control that you should be equipping others to do? What could your communities (family, neighbourhood, church, etc...) look like if they re-organized in the way that this Acts community did?